REVIEWS OF GRAPHIC CLASSICS: EDGAR ALLAN POE

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Graphic Classics: Edgar Allan Poe
(First Edition, 2001)

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WEIRD TALES #328
Summer 2002
Review by S.T. Joshi

It is not my custom to review comic books, even the more pretentious “graphic novels,” although publishers continue to bombard me with them. But I have now come upon one set of such books that deserve some comment. Eureka Productions (Mount Horeb, Wisconsin) is doing some highly creditable work, especially in regard to popularizing some of the classics of our field. The first issue of Eureka’s Rosebud Graphic Classics (2001) is devoted entirely to Edgar Allan Poe, and here we find skillful and effective graphic adaptations of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “Hop-Frog,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and others. In some cases the entire text of the story is reproduced. I am heartened by the fact that Tom Pomplun—Eureka’s designer and publisher—decided to adapt several of Poe’s evocative poems as well, including “Annabel Lee,” “The Conqueror Worm” (illustrated by Gahan Wilson), “El Dorado,” “The Bells,” and several others. I could have done without Clive Barker’s story “New Murders in the Rue Morgue” (from Books of Blood), but no doubt marketing factors entered into its inclusion. Eureka has done a number of other handsome publications, and if they continue to feature classic works of weird fiction, then they might justifiably take credit for assisting in educating a woefully ill-educated public.

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THE TOMB OF DARK DELIGHTS
www.countgore.com/tomb.htm
3/8/03
Review by J.L. Comeau

Here's a stunning collection of thirteen classic stories and poems by Poe illustrated by such great talents as Gahan Wilson, Rick Geary, Maxon Crumb, Spain Rodriguez and Tom Pomplun.  You'll find The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, Annabel Lee, The Conqueror Worm, The Masque of the Red Death and more brought to life by unforgettable illustrations. 

And you won't want to miss New Murders in the Rue Morgue, a sequel to Poe's original The Murders in the Rue Morgue, written by none other than horror superstar Clive Barker.  This Rosebud Graphic Classics collection is introduced by East Texas horror dynamo, Joe R. Lansdale, and is jam-packed with the dark stuff.  You will love it! TombKeeper's highest recommendation.

Creature Feature ©D. Dyszel 2003

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RUE MORGUE #26
March/April 2002

The quarterly literary magazine Rosebud has entered the publishing arena, launching with a graphic homage to an author near, dear and drear to the Rue Morgue crew. That author, of course, is Edgar Allan Poe. The debut issue of Rosebud Graphic Classics presents a lucky 13 of Poe poems and stories with illustrations or as strip adaptations, many of which were commissioned specifically for the project. The highlight is Rafael Nieves and Juan Gomez's comic strip version of The Bells, which makes a protagonist of Poe himself by pealing out an original storyline while that of the poem rings along. The single, full page illustration by Toni Pawlowsky of the titular Annabel Lee displays the perfect amount of attention to detail, rendering vivid character without limiting the reader's imagination of her seaside story. File under "ahead of its time" J. B. Bonivert's cybertech take on The Raven, which loses none of its visionary, dystopian potency despite originally being commissioned for Star Reach Magazine waaay back in 1979 (!) Also of particular interest are Mark A. Nelson's original, darkly erotic illustrations for Clive Barker's original, darkly erotic New Murders In The Rue Morgue, the only work here not written by Poe, but still exceptionally relevant for its revisionism of the classic horror/mystery. (The story first appeared, sans illustrations, in Barker's Books of Blood, Vol. 1, 1984.) The one drawback to the Rosebud anthology? Roses are red, but this book's black and white. The back cover displays eight of the interior images in full colour; restricting them to grayscale after a tease like that is a bit like throwing them into the pit to die in the dark. Rats! For more information: www.rsbd.net

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THE COMICS JOURNAL #245
Review by Rich Kreiner

NEVERMORE: THE SEQUEL

The description of this anthology as "13 classic stories and poems presented by today's great illustrators" raises legitimate expectations. Unfortunately, it's difficult to imagine any readerly interest that wouldn't find the book wanting in one way or another.

The volume includes some literary classics to be sure (this is Poe after all; swing a dead cat...) but scholars may demur regarding the status of some inclusions. Cynical minds could see such selections as the short poems 'A Dream Within A Dream" and "Spirits of the Dead" as filler, extending the table of contents and running up the page count. Ten of Poe's works appear unabridged — seven poems and three stories. Two pieces are written by others. There are five narrative comics, the rest being illustrated print.

Comics enthusiasts might be drawn to a roster of talent on the back cover that begins with Gahan Wilson, Spain Rodriguez, Rick Geary, Richard Sala, Roger Langridge and Maxon Crumb before thinning to graphic designers, computer game artists, a recent art-school grad, a fan of Roger Corman's Poe movies and a talented musician. The contributions from cartooning stalwarts and familiars are tried and, for the most, true, though longstanding followers of Poe or the artists will place the accent on "tried." Wilson's six pages of illustrations to accompany "The Conqueror Worm" are reprinted, sans color, from his Classics Illustrated volume The Raven and Other Poems from 1990. Rodriguez wrote and illustrated his contribution, "The Inheritance of Roger Griswold," for Arcade back in 1976. This three-page comic skirts the final sad mystery in Poe's life, his selection of a literary executor who hated him and actively worked to destroy his standing and legacy As one page is devoted to the circumstances of Poe's death, the segment amounts to little more that a brief sketch of a dissembler and hypocrite, addressing the woeful appointment only as summation in the very last panel.

Geary's retelling of "The Tell-Tale Heart" is one of the volume's strengths by dint of its distinctive, charming look and its sure narrative step. Geary makes the material his own, adapting elements and incidents most cleverly. In this way, he underscores both his own discrimination and the efficacy and economy of the medium. In 18 pages, he uses a smart catalogue of visual devices to get across the fevered instabiliry of the protagonist. Such ingenuiry is a must as the piece was originally done for a young readers anthology, The Bank Street Book of Creepy Tales in 1989, which discouraged much in the way of literal flourish at such juicy turns as "First of all I dismembered the corpse." Apparently Geary expressed some initial misgivings in reprinting this effort, perhaps for the moderation unnecessary for adult readers and the subtle shifts it works on the spirit of Poe's work.

Another of the book's high points, a quartet of studies from Maxon Crumb, gets that spirit far righter, even as it takes liberties with strict adaptation (B. N. Duncan: "Now, actually, showing a womans genital region doesn't have a lot to do with the poem 'The Bells."' Crumb: "I know, but what am I gonna draw with bells?" from his interview in TCJ #217). There's a like-minded fastidiousness, a mutual appreciation for the ghastly, an ickiness à deux between writer and cartoonist. Whatever license Crumb takes, or perhaps preciscly because of the leeway, the net result is that we have the appearance of art speaking directly to art. The four tableaus were drawn for the book Maxon's Poe.

Accompanying "The Black Cat," Sala provides one (that'd be "1") illustration, reproduced in three places. Mark Nelson provides some nifty compositions for a reprinting of Clive Barker's "New Murders in the Rue Morgue" from 1984's Books of Blood.

Roger Langridge, to my mind one of the most undersung cartoonists in the English-speaking world, suggests what a book like this might otherwise have been with his fresh if straightforward rendering of "El Dorado." As does Geary, Langridge immediately marks the material as his own through an articulate and distinctive visual style. The flow of the two pages is unstrained, paced by a smart, conducive breakdown of page into panels. Forget about merely utilizing the medium's shorthand and conventions: Langridge is ballsy enough to take liberties with the inspirational material, specifically introducing a degree of humor even beyond that of his pleasantly cartoony style. With a blithe ease, Langridge still manages to let the poem carry its punch and builds in the necessary repose to let the full effect sink in.

In contrast, J.B. Bonivert's version of The Raven appears hopelessly labored, overwrought and weighed down by designy ostentation. Inasmuch as it is an old piece (from Star*Reach, circa 1979) perhaps it represents the experimentation and incomplete refining of a conspicuously unique visual approach. Rafael Nieves and Juan Gomez rough up "The Bells" in an entirely different manner. In 16 pages, the stanzas become a linked fantasy that casts Poe as an avenging man of action who winds up in a symbolic deathtrap. As goofy as this is, one wonders if it might possibly, somehow, have worked better in the original, published by Tome Press in 1999 with nine additional pages.
The artwork turned in by the Corman fan, the talented musician, et al. has assorted shortcomings. By and large, it is unremarkable and, worse, does not prove much of a partner for the written material. A reader might be better served by being shuttered up, alone, with just Poe and a ready imagination.

This first entry in the series of Rosebud's Graphic Classics is less the realization of compelling artistic ambition than an opportunistic publishing project, a cobbling of recyclable parts with available labor. It might function as a suitable literary companion for a reader who isn't too fussy about companionship or as a stylistic sampler for a parched comics reader desperate for these examples and experiences.

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COMICOPOLIS
www.comicopolisonline.com

Review by Bitter G-Man

In A Nutshell: “His last hours were tormented by visions of shipwreck and cannibalism... finally on Sunday morning, ‘REYNOLDS oh God Reynolds!’... He passed away.” — Poe’s last delirious words while hallucinating the events of one of his earlier horror stories, “Arthur Gordon Pym”.

Critique: Let me admit it upfront; I generally couldn’t stand Edgar Allan Poe. I know he’s the father of modern suspense, virtually created the horror genre that I hold dear to my bitter beating heart, but Goths stone me to death, after reading and analyzing “the Raven” for a solid week in H. English — quoth the Bitter me — nevermore. That being said, let’s get on to the good stuff.

The differences between an ordinary volume of forgotten lore and this collection are numerous. One, it doesn’t smell like mold and come in a baroque typeface that modern cryptography would struggle to ponder. Two, it’s rather eclectic; while starting off with the classic “The Raven”, it also includes the disturbing “Hop-Frog”, which I’d never read before and other more obscure works. Weber is fantastic, with a Pink Floyd “The Wall”-like style and unsettling freakish characters. You can feel the disturbance in the Swartz in her cover illustration of “The Mask of the Red Death”, which I’ve never read before. I’ve never been willing to cough up the twenty+ bucks for an anthology to read that one story and then let it collect dust. Not that all of it is perfection; the tribal Crumb and chaotic Bonivert work were too abstract for me as well as the McLiman’s piece. I did find Wilson’s adaptation of “The Conqueror Worm” to be crude but oddly disturbing, like a small child’s fanciful Crayola drawing of a nightmare. Barker and Nelson take the cake on fundamental wrongness with their obscene sequel to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, which was strangely absent.

If you like Poe, or would just like him on your shelf, Rosebud might be for you. Interesting, affordable, accessible, and suitable for reading WITH an older child, except for the NC-17 Barker tale and images, which aren’t suitable for ME. I never knew monkeys were capable of that... and neither will you if you don’t read it for yourself.

Final Verdict: 4*

Review by Elan Abrell

This book is an illustrated collection of some of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories and poems. Some are illustrated in a sequential art format, but the majority is illustrated prose stories. Poe is arguably one of the greatest short story writers in English literature. Some credit him with the invention of the mystery story. The gothic horror and suspense of his stories seem like they would lend themselves well to a comic format.

Interestingly, though, it is mostly his poems that are illustrated in this style in this collection. Most of his stories are kept in prose form. The art — from such artists as Gahan Wilson, Spain Rodriguez, J. B. Bonivert, Lisa K. Weber, and Maxon Crumb (R. Crumb’s brother), to name just a few — encompasses a wide spectrum of styles, all of which compliment their stories or poems impressively well. The successful comic adaptations, however, left me wishing that all of Poe’s work collected in this book could have been rendered in this style. Nonetheless, for anyone who is unfamiliar with Poe’s work, this book is an excellent introduction. The editors made fantastic choices in what to include, for the most part. Two odd pieces that weren’t actually written by Poe are worth mentioning, though. Spain Rodriguez’s “The Inheritance of Rufus Griswold” is a brief, but intriguing biographical comic about Poe’s death. The other story, Clive Barker and Mark A. Nelson’s “New Murders in the Rue Morgue,” doesn’t quite seem to fit in the collection — not that it’s a bad story, quite the opposite in fact. It cleverly plays off of Poe’s “Murders in the Rue Morgue” without being a sequel. It would have made more sense for the editors to have included Poe’s “Rue Morgue,” however, since the book is an anthology of Poe’s work. This would have been especially useful for people who’ve never read Poe’s original, so they could better appreciate how the new one responds to it. If this had been done, Barker’s story would have made a nice bonus, instead of drawing attention to what seems like an editorial oversight, in spite of its quality.

Rating:! ! ! and a half.

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EDGAR ALLAN POE REVIEW
Spring 2002
Review by Stephen Rachman

I must confess that as I sat down to read Rosebud Graphic Classics: Edgar Allan Poe (Issue 1, 2001), a compilation by various artists and illustrators of classic Poe stories and poems, my attention was not undivided. The comic book had competition from the TV. I was about to turn it off when ABC’s latest prime time game show, The Chair, came on. John McEnroe, the most tortured of tennis’ great champions, has found a second career tormenting contestants as they vie for $250,000 in prize money by answering questions while strapped into a supercharged dental chair that measures their heart rate. In order to win, contestants must not only answer all questions correctly but also keep their beating hearts under control while subjected to the host’s awkward banter calculated to unnerve, flames that emerge from the floor, bursting balloons and even a live alligator dangled inches from the face. In the ordeal, contestants are revved like engines, their palpitations monitored and displayed like a red-lining tachometer. Each time a human heart flutters too fast, prize money drains away like blood from an embalmed corpse. How, I wondered, could the lowly medium of comic art or Graphic Classics with its pen and ink sketches in glorious black and white compete with The Chair, a game show that seems to be hatched from the mind of Poe himself? How, for example, could Rick Geary’s capable but unremarkable storyboarding of “The Tell-Tale Heart” compete with a show that makes the murmurs of anybody’s tell-tale heart visible on screen and throws in “The Pit and the Pendulum” no extra charge?

It may not exactly be a fair comparison but it may be an inevitable one, and it may also be one that is invited by this new compilation. Graphic Classics finds itself in the surprising position of being a representative of a slightly stodgier pop cultural medium, an instrument of pop canonization—like a new edition of collected stories—while the horror of Poe may be conveyed through the crasser vehicle of a game show. However, as Poe was the arch-theorist of that class of compositions “not to exceed in length what might be perused in an hour,” it is still altogether fitting that a medium such as the comic book that has either rightly or wrongly been accused of catering to the minimal attention span would continue to promote Poe. In his introduction to Graphic Classics, “The East Texas Po’ Kid Finds Poe and Hopes You Will Too,” Joe R. Lansdale (an author who also writes comics), describes himself in rather conventional terms as an invalid, bookish lad growing up in an East Texas cultural vacuum during the 1950s and 60s. Bookishness in this case means that he read comics and, when he “wanted something stronger,” he turned to Poe . And so we have a clear articulation of Poe’s cultural status for a popular segment of postwar America. Baby boomer Poe is a cultural figure who has more in common with Rod Serling, Twihght Zone episodes, and Roger Corman films than American literature, nineteenth-century romanticism, or even Vincent Price. Lansdale writes that the volume is “dedicated to the work of that genteel mad man, Poe”, and putting aside the question of whether or not he is promoting the old canard about Poe’s insanity, this reader gets the feeling that he means it in the sense that, say, Ted Nugent, is billed the “Motor City Mad Man.” Poe was outrageous, dude, and Graphic Classics is intended to inspire a new generation that loves comics to love Poe.

This is not exactly a new phenomenon. Comic art versions of Poe’s writings have been appearing with regularity in the last fifty years, perhaps even greater regularity than film, video, and, oh yes, print versions. Of course, the popular tales—”The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Black Cat,” “The Gold Bug,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Fall of the House of Usher”—have received ample treatment. Detective, Horror, Weird, and Science fiction have all been staples of comics and so Poe’s contributions to these genres have all found ready representation in graphic form. In perhaps the most ambitious recent effort, C. Auguste Dupin himself lives on as a quasi-superhero in Allan Moore’s and Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2000) series.

Graphic Classics brings together seven adaptations of poems, four stories, a biographical vignette about Poe’s death (“The Inheritance of Rufus Griswold”), and a takeoff written by Clive Barker and illustrated by Mark A. Nelson, “New Murders in the Rue Morgue.” The editors have also wisely sprinkled a number of striking illustrations from Maxon ‘s Poe (1997) by Maxon Crumb (brother of Robert). Perhaps the greatest strength of the issue is the wide range of modes of pictorial representation. One finds conventional storyboard panels familiar to all readers of narrative comics, like Geary’s “Tell-Tale Heart” or Spain Rodriguez’s “The Inheritance of Rufus Griswold,” the latter evidently working with charming fidelity from daguerreotypes of Poe, Griswold, and Maria Clemm (though her name is misspelled). One also finds illustrated versions of Lisa K. Weber’s “Hop-Frog,” Richard Sala’s “The Black Cat,” and Tom Pomplun’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” These are presented in typeset text with illustrations.

Several poems are presented as pictorial narratives. These include J.B. Bonivert’s hyper-stylized version of “The Raven” (a cross between German Expressionism and Italian Futurism), Gahan Wilson’s “The Conquerer Worm” (a charming, fold-out Halloween card), Roger Langridge’s “Eldorado” (Sunday funnies style), and Rafael Nieves & Juan Gomez “The Bells” (a joyously over-the-top deep focus love triangle). Toni Pawlosky’s “Annabel Lee” and David McLimans’ “A Dream within a Dream” opt for the emblematic. Pawlosky gives us a shell-breasted, pony-tailed Annabel Lee as a mermaid sipping champagne—a contemplative odalisque; McLimans gives us a delightfully Manichaean image of two figures (one male, one female) crisscrossed and flying away from each other (“Yet if hope has flown away/In a night of in a day”). A central vertical line set off by an alternating pattern of black and white bisects the image. Hands and hearts and private parts all come together in a watery, starry dream-world that at first glance appears like a poster for the Olympic spirit but on closer inspection beautifully renders the poem. Mark Nelson’s drawings that accompany the last story in the collection, Barker’s “New Murders in the Rue Morgue” is a hybrid of the illustrative and the emblematic, and they are as overwrought as Barker’s bestial folderol.

Does the collection succeed? Sort of. As a baby boomer tribute to that at genteel mad man, it isn’t bad but there are one-too many ravens flitting around the panels for my taste. Not everything Poe wrote was about a black bird. The primary challenge of all such visualizing enterprises has been to depict in graphic terms what had been solely verbal. This requires more than affection for the material or, as in Clive Barker’s case, a naked desire to make an old story more (porno)graphic. The stylistic surface must be consider considered, as Art Spiegelman has observed, “as a problem to solve. So that it’s not a matter of putting whatever story or idea... through my processor, my style, but rather trying to find a visual surface that’s appropriate to the material.” In some cases, like that of McLimans or Nieves & Gomez, Graphic Classics does find that appropriate visual surface, but in most it falls a little flat—more processing than solving. Also, the collection is seriously hindered by its lack of color. The cover promises brilliant color illustrations but one gets nothing but black and white inside. Imagine illustrating “The Masque of the Red Death” without color. Well you don’t have to, just buy Graphic Classics and see for yourself. Can it compete with The Chair and all that shows of its ilk portend? Only the next generation of comic gorging, Nintendo-playing kids can say.

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Graphic Classics: Edgar Allan Poe
(Second Edition, 2004)

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TOMB OF DARK DELIGHTS
www.countgore.com/tomb
Review by J.L. Comeau 2/04

Astute TombRats know that the TombKeeper is a fan of the Graphic Classics series of illustrated masterworks of great writers, and, just when I thought that they would never be able to match the towering success of their magnificent Bram Stoker title last year, they present this mind-blowing illustrated Edgar Allan Poe volume and prove me wrong.  Poe's dark world has been defined by incredible artistic talents assembled in these pages: Rick Geary, Richard Corben, Spain Rodriguez, Maxon Crumb and many more. Our favorite Poe stories and poems are included: "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Fall of the House of Usher", "The Raven", "The Bells", "The Haunted Palace", just to name a few.  I read this book in one sitting, turning page after page, entranced, and was very sorry to see it end.  The marriage between the artists and the material they have illustrated is a triumph, and the selections are each superb in style and dramatization.  This is another masterpiece from the ever-expanding Graphics Classics library.  I can't wait to see what they do next, and in the meantime, don't miss this one! Graphic Classics' Edgar Allan Poe is a must-have for all Poe fans.  TombKeeper's highest recommendation.

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HORROR COMICS REVIEW
www.angelfire.com/comics/horrorcomicsreview
Review by Keith Huening

Publisher Tom Pomplun has been releasing the very slick GC series, which are collections of comic adaptions, art, and illustrtated text pieces spotlighting a particular author's works. Past writers featured have been HP Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, HG Wells, and Ambrose Bierce to name a few. While utilizing b&w interior art on quality stock, the books are full color covered & square bound in the traditional manner of GN's.

This 144 page edition is a must for all horror comic heads, and Poe fans in particular. You are going to get adaptions of "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Masque of Red Death," "Tell-Tale Heart," "The Raven," and my personal favorite "The Cask of Amontillado." There's much more, too. These are just the classics that everyone would expect. If you've never given Poe a try, here's your chance. You won't be let down!

Joe Lansdale gets things going with the intro piece, and the art is varied and beautiful with styles ranging from Rich Corben and Maxon Crumb to John Coulthart and Milton Knight. A visual feast with a myriad of flavors! "The Bells" by Rafael Nieves & Juan Gomez is a particularly creative rendition of the Poe classic.

Ask your shop to get this for you. You'll probably want to check out the other tomes in the series as well, hands down. A $9.95 cover price that is well worth the cost of admission to this dark show!

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FOREWORD MAGAZINE
May/June 2004
Review by Marlene Y. Satter

"Poe was a madman," says Joe R. Lansdale in his introduction to this second edition of adaptations and illustrations of Poe's work. He "was darker, and far more savage" than the movies made from his tales. While that darkness and savagery are still not matched in the illustrations in this book (as Lansdale says, "No one can generate that absolute darkness better than he"), the artists are nonetheless a diverse and talented group.

In stories and poems that include "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Bells," and "The Cask of Amontillado," a bevy of artists such as Spain Rodriguez, John Coulthart, Juan Gomez, Rick Geary, and Lisa K. Weber have done their best to evoke the dark and moody atmosphere that colored most of Poe's works. Some of the adaptations are frame-by-frame retellings in classic comic book style; others are illustrations that accompany the full text of a story or poem.

The artists' renditions of these works range from delicate (Weber, for "Hop-Frog," whose characters are at once jeweled and grotesque, finely drawn and shaded) to black and heavily inked (Milton Knight, for "Never Bet the Devil Your Head," in which he captures the atmosphere of a carnival sideshow in both image and feel) to classic engraving (John Coulthart, for "The Haunted Palace," in which the delicately beautiful and the disturbing vie for the eye) to technical (J. B. Bonivert, for "The Raven," in which images and words clash with unfortunate results, although the artwork is quite eye-catching, with lots of black and many round shapes).

The most amusing artwork is found in Roger Langridge's illustrated version of "Eldorado," in which a knight sings in the first panel, much to the distress of his horse; as knight and horse age during their quest, the horse goes from sulky to toothless, aged, and weary even as the knight goes from determined to hapless to resigned. Rick Geary's policemen are perfectly officious as they sit and listen to the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart." And Stanley W. Shaw's interpretation of "The Masque of the Red Death" juxtaposes strong, heavy black specters among throngs of more delicately detailed merrymakers at that ill-fated party.

The cover, by Skot Olsen, is spectacular, its colors accentuating myriad catastrophes, from fire and flood to storm and destruction, with a caricature of Poe himself holding a tombstone, surrounded by wrought-iron fence; on the gates behind him can be read parts of the name "Annabelle Lee."
Poe lovers won't want to discard their complete works editions, but will want to add this to their collections.

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PENGUIN COMICS
www.penguincomics.net
Review by Tim Lasiuta

Graphics Classics Revisits.... Edgar Allan Poe

As the first true mystery and horror novelist, Edgar Allan Poe set the standard that few have attained. Bram Stoker, and modern novelists like Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Joe Lansdale have touched his level, but not his consistency.

Edgar Allan Poe was born in 1809, and in his short 40 year life, he had a University, military, and finally a short, intensive literary career. Struggles with depression, alcohol, and poverty both drove him to deeper anguish, and inspired him to greater triumphs. From great struggle, the genius of his work found a source of torment, theme, and foil.

His contributions to the world of literature are timeless. ‘The Murder In the Rue Morgue’ was the first detective story. His psychological horror piece, ‘The Tell Tale Heart’, still beats true today, a guilty conscience never rests. ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ is a study in atmosphere, and deliberate focus. The mysterious ‘Eldorado’ has been interpreted many ways. ‘The Black Cat’, and ‘The Raven’ are studies that even ‘The Shining’ by King cannot match.

Eureka Productions, and Tom Pomplun have compiled the ‘Graphic Classics, Edgar Allan Poe, Volume One’, and they have done a superlative job. The artwork, though not ‘realistic’ throughout all the book, conveys the sense of mystery that the text so clearly captures. The art styles range from pen, ink and charcoal for the ‘Haunted Palace’ to the loose rendering of ‘The Bells’, and ‘The Cask of Amontilado.’ Still, as the work of Poe crosses many literary barriers, so does the artwork that is apt for each tale. Rick Geary, Stanley Shaw, Richard Sala, Juan Gomez, Spain Rodriguez, Richard Corben, Maxon Crumb, and even Joe R Landsdale contribute art and story.

For the first time Poe reader, this is a great introduction. For the long time Poe reader, you will be pleased with the spirit that each tale captures. As a matter of fact, if Edgar Allan Poe were alive to see this work, he would be pleased. He might even scare himself!

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COLLECTORS' CORNER
#138, April 2004
Review by Boyce McClain

GRAPHIC CLASSICS: EDGAR ALLAN POE

One of my all-time favorite authors is the 19th century master of the macabre and horror, Edgar Allan Poe. I can remember reading all of his stories and poems when I was younger. The Tell-Tale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado were the most frightening. Never Read Poe at night, especially late at night. I left the lights on all night and never slept a wink.

Graphic Classics presents its completely revised and expanded second edition of its first series volume. Over 80 pages of artwork by some of the top talent of today complements the stories' text. From horror to humor each tale is a powerful combination of prose and picture that brings Poe's tales to life. It's not to be missed. Do I plan on missing any of Graphic Classics' editions? Nevermore!

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RUE MORGUE
May 2004
Review by Gary Butler

Talk about a double blast from the past: not only is Graphic Classics: Edgar Allan Poe an illustrated homage to an author near, dear and drear to the Rue Morgue crew — it's also a revised and expanded version of a sold-out edition that was published in 2001. I reviewed it in RM#26 with an unhesitating endorsement of ahem, "Evermore!" So what could be more fitting than revising and expanding that same review?

The anthology was originally comprised of a lucky thirteen Poe poems and stories with illustrations or as strip adaptations; with much of the material commissioned specifically for the project. The new edition preserves the charmed number of entries, seven of them being substitutes, and for an eighth, a complete redraw by the original artist. That latter story is Rick Geary's cheerfully Dickensian interpretation of The Tell-Tale Heart (pictured), redone because the original version was a reformatted reprint that suffered from the enlarging process.

The highlight in both editions remains Rafael Nieves and Juan Gomez's full comic strip adapta-tion of The Bells, which makes a protagonist of Poe himself by peeling out an original storyline while that of the poem rings along. (NB: the out of print, original version of this story, from Caliber Press, ran at nine additional pages, but this adaptation does not suffer for being shorter).

Of the old entries, file under "ahead of its time", J. B. Bonivert's cybertech take on The Raven, which loses none of its visionary, dystopian potency despite originally being commissioned for Star Reach Magazine waaay back in 1979! As for absent material, Toni Pawlowsky's single, full-page illustration of the titular Annabel Lee is missed, as is Gahan Wilson's humorously grotesque The Conqueror Worm.

But surely room must be made for the House of Usher to fall! Of the new entries, comprising over 80 pages, the best is easily Matt Howarth's demolition of the afore-mentioned, featuring a Roderick Usher who looks suspiciously similar to The Sand-man’s Daniel. Also notable is Pedro Lopez's adaptation of The Cask of Amontillado, which only becomes more sinister for presenting its victim, Fortunado, in the carnival garb of a jester.

By the way: don't judge this book by its colour, or lack thereof. While a number of the pieces are admitted reprints, every story was originally presented in black and white.

Looking for mo' Poe? An adaptation of Some Words With A Mummy will appear in the next volume of Graphic Classics, subtitled Horror Classics, which is due in Sep-tember. The multi-author vol-ume will also include stories by H.P. Lovecraft, Saki, W.W. Jacobs and Clark Ashton Smith.

More info (including samples from all thirteen Poe adaptations) available at graphicclassics.com

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MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
www.midwestbookreview.com
April 14, 2004
Review by Jack Burroughs

Compiled and edited by Tom Pomplun, Graphic Classics: Edgar Allan Poe is an outstanding graphic novel anthology of diverse comic-book style adaptations of classic stories and poems by the legendary Edgar Allan Poe. Included are "The Raven", "The Cask of Amontillado", "The Tell-Tale Heart", and nine others. Each black-and-white rendition is by a different artist, and the styles range from gruesomely realistic to extravagantly bizarre; all of them deftly capture Poe's brilliant and sometimes shocking dialogue, plots, and the helplessness of man. Also very highly recommended from their "Graphic Classics" series are the Eureka Productions graphic novel editions of H.P. Lovecraft (0971246440); Ambrose Bierce (0971246467); and Bram Stoker (0971246475).

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COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE
May 28, 2004
Review by Jack Abramowitz

There are certain things that, as a CBG reviewer, I wonder why I even bother with. DC's Archives and Marvel's Essentials, for example. How many times can I reasonably repeat their praises (and shortcomings)? Yet I do.

I'll tell you why. As with every issue of a comic book, each review is somebody's first. Someone is new to CBG and needs this information.

Graphic Classics falls into the same category. Every time one of these volumes is released, I find myself repeating the same mantra: "I have got to let people know how good this is!"

Graphic Classics is Classics Illustrated for a new generation. Each story is adapted in a different, yet appropriate, style. From Gothic to weird to funny, each is suited to its source.

Stories in this volume range from the well-known, such as "The Raven," "The Masque of the Red Death," and "The Fall of the House of Usher" to such obscure tales as "Never Bet the Devil Your Head." (Not all are comics adaptations; some stories are the original prose with new illustrations.)

Edgar Allan Poe is actually a revised and expanded edition of the company's first volume. Whether it warrants a new purchase if one has the original is a judgment call. But for those who came late to the series, here's a chance to be rewarded for missing it the first time around.

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