Eye Classics: Nevermore - A Graphic Novel Anthology of Edgar Allan Poe's Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Various, Dan Whitehead (Editor)
|Eye Classics: Nevermore - A Graphic Novel Anthology of Edgar Allan Poe's Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Various, Dan Whitehead (Editor)|
|Category: Graphic Novels|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A very competent spread of different graphic interpretations of Poe works, but even shunting what was a short story into a short sequential artwork proves difficult for some. This is still welcome, to a Poe fan or otherwise.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 128||Date: October 2007|
So, if I were to mention someone who was born 200 years ago this season, and who changed the world with their writing, who would you think of first? Charles Darwin, probably. But those of a slightly different bent might just have mentioned someone else - someone at the forefront of all things arcane, horrific and thrilling when it comes to fiction. Someone who lost his birth and foster mother both to tuberculosis before he was ever twenty. Someone who had most unusual circumstances surrounding his death, to best Agatha Christie vanishing for a while, and most of the detectives in the fiction he helped inspire. Someone called Edgar Allan Poe.
And although it's not particularly branded as such, this book of graphic novel re-imaginings serves as no small piece of the celebrations of Poe's bicentenary. It's certainly a book that's very easy to dip into, take at leisure, and more importantly, perhaps, for us as bibliophiles, to serve as an inspiration for us to go back to the originals.
You probably can remember the name of more of his short dark stories than you might think, and most of those - whether made known to you at the hands of Roger Corman and Vincent Price, or Stephen Berkoff, are in evidence here. We get the Murders in the Rue Morgue (although done way in the future, with added sci-fi elements), we get The Masque of the Red Death (wittily, a fancy dress night at a comics convention), we get The Fall of the House of Usher done in stark chiaroscuro, and looking at someone along the lines of Alice Cooper.
The stories are all presented in black and white - what else? - and results are so varied it would be wrong for me to pick out what I think is more or less successful, and instead give kudos to all the creators for their variety. There's a sort of warm, pastelly feel to The Pit and the Pendulum that contrasts with its more modern re-imagining. There is a brilliant bit of detail in The Black Cat, where the titular beast is echoed in the bushes surrounding the circus encampment, which comes unexpected when we consider the bluntness of the dialogue and script as the original gets jammed into ten pages.
If there is a fault with this book it must come down to the adaptations - not for any problems I have with the deviations from the original, but with the nature of the beast. I know the Poe was a short story (or a short story in verse form, as with The Raven), but sometimes the translation to just a few panels across a handful of spreads leaves a sense of being underchanged.
Still, this was a timely encounter from the shelves of my local library, and I'm glad I have the Complete Poe at home to turn to. I like Poe, and of course what he brought to literary history, and those with knowledge of his works will I am sure see these variants as not in the slightest disrespectful. Newewcomers will get a package of variety, well-known tales and works favoured less by adaptors in times past, and as long as they don't think these fully convey all of Poe, they should still see a welcome introduction in this anniversary year.
For a well-regarded life of Poe we can recommend Poe by Peter Ackroyd.
You can read more book reviews or buy Eye Classics: Nevermore - A Graphic Novel Anthology of Edgar Allan Poe's Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Various, Dan Whitehead (Editor) at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Eye Classics: Nevermore - A Graphic Novel Anthology of Edgar Allan Poe's Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Various, Dan Whitehead (Editor) at Amazon.com.
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