E.A. Poe goes graphic

Critic's Choice

Comics

October 27, 2002|By Chris Kaltenbach

Interested in spending Halloween with a new work from Edgar Allan Poe?

Impossible? Well, yeah. Unless you're willing to let your imagination run free.

That's what Baltimoreans Jonathon Scott Fuqua, Steven Parke and Stephen John Phillips did, and the result is In The Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe, a 92-page graphic novel published recently by Vertigo, the adult arm of DC Comics.

Taking the form of an unpublished journal written by Poe that spans nearly his entire career as a published writer, Shadow posits a man whose talents were either a curse (in the form of the ghost of his late father, who serves as his unwelcome muse) or the result of near-total insanity.

Shadow captures the tone of Poe's writings (writer Fuqua is on less firm ground when supplying dialogue for the modern character, a Hopkins professor who reads the journal), and the idea that madness was his true inspiration makes a certain amount of sad sense. Parke's design work keeps the reader steadfastly off-balance, while Phillips' photography is a masterpiece of lighting and composition. (Though the actors being photographed tend to overdo things; the guy portraying Poe, I'm afraid, often looks like he's suffering more from stomach problems than from being consumed by fear and guilt.)

If it's a fact that Edgar Allan Poe was a tormented genius, Shadow imagines a life where that was only the half of it.

(If you're looking for a copy of the book, or any of about a million other comics, new and old, check out today's Baltimore Comic-Con, set for 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Baltimore Convention Center.)

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