Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Graphic Classics - Poe's Tales of Mystery

Happy New Year, everybody! Go 2014!

I love the Graphic Classics series and have a lot of their works. The ones I really like to collect are their Edgar Allan Poe adaptations - obviously. I have three out of four of those and I am satisfied.

The second volume.

The third volume.

The fourth volume.

It is this last volume that I will be reviewing - not because it's the only Poe one in colour, but because...I feel like it.

Hey, this is my blog!

I am expecting a graphic novel collection called Nevermore, which re-invents Edgar Allan Poe stories while keeping the spirit. I do not have high hopes, so I'll review a one I know is good!

[By the by, Graphic Classics will take a few adaptations they did previously and put them in the new volume.]

Maxon Crumb (illustrator)

Maxon Crumb is best known for being the brother of the underground comix artist Robert Crumb.

Suffering from some obscure mental illness as a child, Maxon's first publication was HardCore Mother, which is about sadism, incest, and such. He practices celibacy because...intercourse will give him epileptic seizures. When he draws, he will usually enter a state where he will barely eat and drink.

Kind of makes for the movies, doesn't it?

For Christmas, I got Maxon's Poe from Brendan - a rather rare volume of Maxon illustrating seven Poe stories/poems. They are weird...I LOVE IT!

Great illustration for the poem anyway.

Short Story
Antonella Caputo (adapter) - Reno Maniquis (illustrator)

Famous for being the first detective story.

Antonella Caputo pulls off a wonderful adaptation, suitably taking the story, nipping and cutting it, and then brushing it up. The story that inspired Sherlock Holmes is greatly scripted. The true spirit of Poe's story is captured here.

As for the illustrations, Reno Maniquis makes a great go at the art. They feel old, and he makes great use of browns, blues, reds, and golds. One of the best artists in the entire work, he takes the imagery in the Poe story and puts it down on paper. Mr. Maniquis makes off with one of my favorite Graphic Classic adaptations yet.

Molly Kiely (illustrator)

Very pretty adaptation of a poem that basically reads "It's not you it's me." Mrs. Kiely does very beautiful work here.

Short Story
Tom Pomplun (adapter) - Michael Manning (illustrator)

One of the better stories in this collection.

Poe's story of hypnotism at the point of death was great from the start. But Tom Pomplun (head of Graphic Classics) has wonderfully taken it and made only slight cuts - the biggest being some large passages, but most of Poe remains intact. He has also taken the liberty to take a name - say P----- - and made it "Pierce;" taking a few initials names.

The art by Michael Manning is great. It has a bit of a glossy, shiny feel to them. He also did the cover art. The final image captures the sickening feel of the original short story's ending - Michael Manning, you are good at drawing a liquefying corpse. I do think it stands out as a more realistic look at the story. The science-fictiony feel of the original is captured perfectly. This is a story that everyone has a different mental picture of, but this does it pretty well (considering how hard it is to do Valdemar). I love the interpretation of the hypnotist here!

Also by the by, the final segment in Tales of Terror is based on Valdemar, and it is GREAT!

Scenes from the final segment in Tales of Terror: corpse-like Valdemar; the foetid mess on top of the hypnotist (Basil Rathbone), who, in this version, is evil.

A wonderful adaptation.

Neale Blanden (illustrator)

An absurd, bizarre psychedelic, comicy adaptation! Fantastic in color! I LOVE IT!

Short Story 
Tom Pomplun (adapter) - Nelson Evergreen (illustration)

The most disturbing-yet-little-known Edgar Allan Poe story to date, a great adaptation of Berenice is showcased here.

Tom Pomplun does a bravo-bravo adaptation. He also includes a bit that is usually cut from the story - the moving of Berenice's finger in the coffin. That scene is usually cut out.

The art is wonderfully creepy, starting out with blues and whites and commencing into a sickly green. It is claustrophobic air of the story  that is truly represented, and the teeth? Delightfully creepy! As stated, I love how the color scheme descends from blue to a dentist's-office green that is truly well done. The story only uses darker colors, with the occasional dash of red on a chair, yellow in a fire, or blue in the sky.

One of the best.

Roger Langridge (illustrator)

Returning from the second edition, Roger Langridge's comicy version of Eldorado is showcased in color.

It looks very nice. I think I prefer it in color. And I do love how he illustrated the Shadow, with it's crosshatched, purple robe and skull filled with red eyes...

Short Story
Rod Lott (adapter) - Lisa K. Weber (illustrator)

Only one out of the three Graphic Classics Poe anthologies I have do not contain Hop-Frog, that delightfully nasty horror story (coupled with a quirky love story). The other one (than this) is the second edition, which features the complete text of the Poe story with about 2, 3, 4, 5 illustrations by Mrs. Weber. That one was a disappointment. Hop-Frog, Tripetta, the corpses of the ministers - they didn't look right.

Weber redos her previous adaptation and fulfills the expectations with a full-color full-comic adaptation of the grim tale. The only problem was that Hop-Frog looked a little should I put this...not dwarfish.

Great adaptation by Rod Lott.

Short Story
Tom Pomplun (adapter) - Craig Wilson (illustration)

A little-known Poe story is given wonderful treatment here.

Tom Pomplun pulls the adaptation off well. I never quite understood this story, but his clippings helped greatly.

Craig Wilson has a lot to live up to, here. He has to create the most LIFELIKE painting of a woman for the title object. So, first off, you first see a very subtle difference in the portrait than in the characters. You cannot quite put your finger on it - maybe because there's light in it? - but you can see a certain quality there that the other characters do not have. And as for the final illustration? Whew! That's creepy!

Artist Leong Wan Kok (who did The Conqueror Worm here) would put his own spin on the story in the black-and-white publication Gothic Classics. They are both wonderful.

Short Story
Rich Rainey (adapter) - Brad Teare (illustrator)

A psychological portrait of no fame amongst Poe fans (WHAT?!?), The Man of the Crowd is great.

Brad Teare has something of (what I call) a "coffee-shop" style - which is appropriate, because the story starts in a cafe. I love his drawings - what style is it? - I cannot put my finger on it! But I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

Just look at it!

A great adaptation.

A lot of these have been lesser known tales! What's next...a poem?

Andy Ewen (illustrator) - Benjamin Wright (colouring)

Creepy, whimsical, wonderful illustrations are present in this returning adaptation.

I am not positive that it should've been put in colour...but it looks good!

Short Story
Antonella Caputo (adapter) - Anton Emdin (illustrator) - Glenn Smith (colouring/inking/lettering)

ANOTHER little known Poe story given an outstanding adaptation.

Poe's (somewhat difficult) story about two drunks and a company of weirdos/freaks is given an understandable adaptation by Antonella Caputo.

Anton Emdin's illustrations are perfectly suited to the story. I love their twisted, cartoony look to them. Legs and Hugh are particularly well done, and as for King Pest - well, Harry Clarke did him better, but these illustrations capture the comedic nature of the original story, and thus I am torn. Congrats to Anton Emdin!

As for Glenn Smith's colouring/inking/lettering...
  • The story could not have been done without colour. WONDERFUL!
  • The inking is very cartoony and done very well.
  • I love the twisted letters that capture the feeling so well!

[I'm sorry my observations are so to the point and that I'm really breezing through this!]

Short Story
Ronn Sutton (adapter) - Benjamin Wright (colouring)

The poorest in the book.

Ronn Sutton re-interprets the narrator as a green-haired Neo-Nazi punk girl. The scene where she SHOOTS the Old Man - 

No. Not good. At all.

Look, I'm all for re-interpreting classics in your own way! And I'm sure Ronn Sutton had that in mind. But this is just...bad.

Short Story
Stand Shaw (adapter/illustrator)

First off, I ADORE Stan Shaw's illustrations for this, my favourite Poe tale. I first encountered it in its black-and-white early form in the second edition, and it was GREAT.

This adaptation is the same but in colour, and I still ADORE it. It's just...they only use purples, pinks, reds, and blacks (with a tannish colour for the light). The Poe story is literally and figuratively so COLOURFUL (pun totally intended!). Use greens, blues, oranges, and whites too!

I do like the effects Mr. Shaw used with the Red Death. His effects with him are very good and emphasize the ghostly feel. He also creates a great interpretation of the corpse-like face that DEFINITELY looks better in colour. And, although the colour scheme isn't very faithful except in some cases, I'll say I prefer it to the black-and-white.

You know, this is one of the best in the book. One of the reasons to buy it is this adaptation.

Leong Wan Kok (illustrations)

Taking the literal interpretation, Leong Wan Kok creates a truly memorable interpretation of Poe's poem on the mortality of humankind.

This one, simply, could not have been done in black-and-white. I LOVE black-and-white - I think everyone knows that by now - but, per say, I wouldn't like to see The Avengers in black-and-white.

Ugh. I wouldn't want to see The Avengers period. I fell asleep in the theatre!

But that's beside the point.

The shiny, glossy feel of this makes it worthwhile.



The full creepiness of the original Poe story is NEARLY captured here. The art is great, the adaptation likewise, so the reader is fully dragged into the horrific, tortured mind of Egaeus.

The Masque of the Red Death

We all knew this was coming. My favourite Poe story is given first-rate treatment. The look of Prince Prospero and the revelers is wonderful, but the corpse-like Red Death is the true showcase here. The colour scheme may not be that creative or faithful, but a few of the subtle effects - which involve colour! - are wonderful. Better than the black-and-white one.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue

The illustrations - the adaptation - the FIRST FREAKIN' DETECTIVE STORY - everything fits here! Caputo and Maniquis do one of the true greats in Graphic Classics, and the fact that it is the story that inspired Sherlock Holmes does not hurt. I think that it would not look as good in black-and-white, but it would be bearable in that format. Graphic Classics made it clear that this was the pride of their book.

The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar is bubbling right under.


A Dream Within a Dream

O! Glories of glories! The weird illustrations are all very colourful - they have rainbowy feels to them.


Maxon Crumb's Maxon's Poe was great, so it is only fitting he should do this. It is a very weird drawing but it is very well done.

The Conqueror Worm

Leong Wan Kok has a wonderful go at one of my favourite Poe poems and he pulls it off very well. The literal interpretation helps. The mimes, angels, and the Conqueror Worm itself are all very good. The shiny, figure-like characters help.

To Violet Vane is bubbling right under.


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