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Friday, October 3, 2014

Comic Review: Edgar Allan Poe’s Spirits of the Dead HC

Edgar Allan Poe’s Spirits of the Dead HC
Richard Corben

Artist: Richard Corben
Cover Artist: Richard Corben
Genre: Horror
Publication Date:October 01, 2014
Format:FC, 216 pages
This is the complete collection of Edgar Allan Poe classics adapted by master horror comics artist and Eisner Hall of Fame inductee Richard Corben.Collects all DHP stories, The Conqueror Worm, The Fall of the House of Usher #1–#2, The Raven and the Red Death, Morella and the Murders in the Rue Morgue and more.

“Richard Corben’s art. Man, the guy just gets better and better. There is no plateau.”—Comics Bulletin

Thy soul shall find itself alone
’Mid dark thoughts of the gray tombstone—
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.

The comic begins though, with an introduction by M. Thomas Inge, the Blackwell Professor of Humanities at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. He talks about how without Poe and his fellow writers, there might not have been comics and graphic novels. For those early comic artists turned for inspiration, or outright piracy, to the popular short fiction of such authors as O. Henry, Stephen Crane, Ambrose Bierce, or Guy de Maupassant. Mr. Inge goes on to say that over three hundred adaptations of Poe’s stories and poems appeared in comic books and graphic novels from 1943 to the present. But only one spent most of his life adapting Poe’s works to comic form. That is Richard Corben. And Mr. Corben does justice to the works within this graphic novel. He uses a figure not unlike the Cryptkeeper Mag the Hag, to introduce each piece, and sometimes even taking part.

The opening piece is the poem, “Spirits of the Dead.” It begins with the poem itself, then we are lured into the comic adaption by Richard Corben. The story is about a man looking for his ladylove, finds her, and proceeds to tell her about his nightmare, where family members do not recognize him. Though I guessed right at the beginning how this tale would end, it still left a chill.

There are those that I enjoyed more than others. One is “The Masque of the Red Death,” where a king and noblemen and women discovering partying while the poor die from the Red Death, doesn't mean that they too will survive the plague. 
“The Fall of the House of Usher” is another great retelling of this macabre story. A man visits a friend, whose own madness about his sister brings down the house, literally. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” shows us how Poe is the grandfather of the mystery tale, and Corben stays faithful to the storyline. I also enjoyed “The Conqueror Worm,” where in the end; the conqueror worm gets us all. And last but never least, “The Raven.” Here the bird is more than a spirit haunting a man, maybe even his own guilt over the death of a loved one, but turned into the instrument of his death.

Poe’s works are meant to be done in graphic form, and Richard Corben 
superbly proves it with this collection. The colors and the adaptation he has done of these marvelous tales bring to life, all the dark madness of Poe’s nightmares and visions. 

I give Edgar Allan Poe’s Spirits of the Dead five sheep.

Pamela Kinney


  1. I have hesitated with graphic novels in the past, primarily because those I have read have been from favorite series and subsequent disappointment with the results, but lately some of these are sounding pretty darn good. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, I am definitely intrigued :)

  2. Funny how I just purchased the complete works of Poe last weekend! :) Definitely will have to invest in this one as well. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Dark Horse has a few different graphic novels of Poe's work :)

  3. You're welcome. Poe's works does makes good fodder for graphic form.