TALES OF MYSTERY – “Dark Night of the Soul”

August 16, 2011

Tales of Mystery—Edgar Allan Poe

Graphic Classics

144 pages, 2011, $17.95

I remember teaching high school kids American Lit. We’d struggle through Thomas Paine and Jonathan Edtwards, and then…and then just as everyone was about to give up, along came that master of weirdness, Edgar Allan Poe. No wonder he became everyone’s literary hero. He put nightmare back into the American dream.

It’s a little harder to look at Tales of Mystery from our contemporary perspective of slasher movies and R-rated graphic novels. Poe seems word heavy. But the visuals here add “pow” from the realism of “Murders in the Rue Morgue, “Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” and “Bernice” to the surreal art of Andy Ewan to the cartoonish rendering of “King Pest.” My favorite is the illustrations for “The Man of the Crowd” by Brad Teare, though that story represents some of Poe’s weakness for the modern reader. It is too open ended.

Horror is everywhere, It’s in fairy tales and the evening headlines. It’s in playground ditties—“Ring around Rosie” is from the plague years; even in the form of a bleeding figure hanging from a cross above the alter at church. Horror isn’t a response, it’s the subject itself. It is the recognition that we have a capacity for cruelty. It draws the connection between death and sexual feeling. It’s the body and its vulnerability, the mind and its brittleness. It’s love and its absence.

So who is the audience for this $18 color comic. My guess is that it should be in libraries and remedial reading programs and maybe in rural high schools, like the one where I taught American Lit. Does reading Poe empower us, give us a sense of control? Perhaps. It discharges some of our anger by indulging private monsters. It is a way of handling that fall from faith and certainty. And we all need to go through athe dark night of the soul.

Purchase this directly from amazon for $12.09. Click:

Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery: Graphic Classics® Volume 21


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