Monday, 19 December 2016

Edgar Allan Poe's Spirits of the Dead by Richard Corben Review


Legendary horror artist Richard Corben adapts a selection of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories and poems in a pretty decent anthology, Spirits of the Dead.

Corben’s unique artistic style definitely gives Poe’s stories another layer of the macabre with its creepy visuals, particularly with his grotesquely proportioned figures. Corben also includes his own character, Mag the Hag, as a kind of host to each of the stories, a Crypt Keeper surrogate-type whose brief commentary at the beginning and end adds an element of levity to the proceedings. 

But your enjoyment of the book will largely rest on how you feel about Poe’s stories which, at their core, are mostly unchanged. Classics like The Cask of Amontillado, The Masque of Red Death, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Fall of the House of Usher, and The Raven are all included and show why they are among his most famous works because of their originality and continued ability to captivate. His lesser known poem, The City in the Sea, was also a good inclusion by Corben.

Other pieces though were very forgettable and uninteresting: Alone, The Sleeper, The Assignation, Berenice, Morella, Shadow, The Conqueror Worm, and The Premature Burial. The title poem wasn’t even a comic, it was just the poem printed on a page with Corben drawing the border around it. 

Good adaptations elevate the source material to the next level which mostly isn’t the case here although Corben does accomplish this on a couple of occasions. Berenice’s teeth were strikingly horrific and the visual of the Raven itself towards the end of the poem was amazing and made me think completely differently about what the bird was. Corben’s a little too obsessed with bewbs but mostly his art is outstanding and a perfect match for Poe’s work. 

Spirits of the Dead is an uneven collection that’s not going to be for everyone but it’s certainly not a bad read for horror fans.

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