Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nevermore

Last week I posted a Hemingway quote where he lamented on the longevity of writers: “Greatness is the longest marathon ever run; many enter; few survive.” Well, I think it’s safe to say after 150 years, Edgar Allan Poe is one writer who has gone the distance. His poems and short stories are still read by people from all walks of life. I own the complete works of Poe myself and find it’s one of the books that I regularly reference.

Nevermore is a graphic novel that gives a fresh lease on life for nine Poe classics, like The Raven, The Pit and the Pendulum and The Masque of the Red Death. This collection separates itself from numerous comic books in the past that have attempted to delve into the author's psyche. Nevermore succeeds.

A highlight is The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar by screenwriter Jeremy Slater and artist John McCrea. Valdemar wishes to avoid the pain of a slow death, so he hires a hypnotist who ends up placing Valdemar in limbo. He appears dead but his body doesn’t deteriorate and Mr. Valdemar can be heard saying eerie things like: "Everything is dark and cold! And there are things in here with me! I can hear them moving!" Mr. McCrea’s strong panels with Mr. Slater’s re-imagining made this fresh for someone that knows what the shocking final scene holds.

The Oval Portrait is also updated by writer David Berner who adds a nice twist in making the original painter into a photographer and the doomed model a movie star. Liliana Kuschke poses for Jed. Months later, he finally captures her “life” on film. Natalie Sandell (Carson City) does the fine artwork for this lesser known Poe piece. (Oscar Wilde was a fan of this story and used the "deadly painting" idea for The Picture of Dorian Gray).

For the final pages, Laura Howell pens a nifty biography with some interesting Poe facts. He was buried in an unmarked grave for twenty six years when funds were finally raised for a more appropriate memorial. The body exhumed from the grave was not Poe and later found to be a soldier named Philip Mosher. Poe’s body has never been located.

The cover of a slumped-over, blood-spattered raven draws attention to this well done adaptation. And with Roger Corman’s inspired forward, I’m hoping for a follow-up. This graphic novel proves Poe’s 19th century macabre tales are timeless.

Links:

Death of Edgar Allan Poe from Wikipedia contradicts Nevermore's take on Poe's remains.

Women Of Mystery's Terrie posted a great My Town Monday on Poe's NY cottage with a link to a NY Times article about the possession of Poe's bones.

20 comments:

sandra seamans said...

As a Poe fan you might find Ed Pettit's blog of interest.

http://bibliothecary.squarespace.com

Scott Parker said...

I love Poe so I'm going to have to locate this collection. I, too, have the complete set. The weirdest Poe thing I have is a CD from 11 years ago titled "Closed on Account of Rabies." (http://www.amazon.com/Closed-Account-Rabies-Poems-Tales/dp/B000003ZVR) There ain't nothing like Christopher Walken reading "The Raven."

BTW, I noticed your listening to Miles Davis's "Sketches of Spain." Miles is my favorite jazz man and Sketches is up on my favs list. Still like Kind of Blue better and I thoroughly dig the electric stuff. But Sketches borders on the sublime for me.

Charles Gramlich said...

I did not know that about Poe's body. Wow. I'm a big fan of his as well, and was even in a poetry magazine to honor his anniversary.

Barbara Martin said...

When younger I enjoyed reading Poe, now I will have to take another fond look.

David Cranmer said...

Sandra, What a great site. I will regularly revisit Mr. Pettit's blog. Thanks for the link.

Scott, Walken is perfect for anything related to Poe. I'll see if I can find that. As for Davis and Jazz, I'm not sure I have space here to do it justice. Suffice it to say, I'm a huge fan. Kind of Blue is the best but even lesser works like The Sorcerer, Tutu and Doo Bop are favorites of mine. In a few days, I plan to post a YouTube clip of Davis and, in my opinion, the coolest moment in music.

Charles, I had no idea either. If you get a chance check out the link Sandra sent. It's full of great information.

Barbara, He's like the word cool. It never goes out of fashion.

Clare2e said...

I might have to leaf through that. When I read the Valdemar story, it was so horrifying to me. Like the bedside vigil of Ivan Ilyich in Tolstoy, only not as cheery : )

pattinase (abbott) said...

This looks like a lovely book to own. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

David Cranmer said...

Clare, Valdemar is such a scary story even by 2008 standards. When the body becomes a "nearly liquid mass of loathsome--of detestable putrescence" at the end, it gets me everytime.

Patti, No problemo. I'm in the middle of a graphic novel reading binge. I'll be recommending two others in the upcoming weeks.

Ed said...

David, Glad you found me. Hope you enjoy my posts.

I have't seen Nevermore yet, but I've read some other Poe graphic collections. I'd recommend Ravenous by Dawn Brown (Speakeasy Comics) and Haunt of Horror, a three issue series by Richard Corben for Marvel MAX (not sure if it's been published in one volume yet).

And speaking of Valdemar, George Romero made a pretty good adaptation of it as half of the movie Two Evil Eyes. Dario Argento did a version of Black Cat for the other half, but it really sucked, even with a spectacular opening crime scene (and Harvey Keitel). Romero's Valdemar is very creepy and has a noir/crime subplot to it. Not great, but definitely worth watching.

Ed said...

And Sandra Seamans, thanks for the rec.

Joshua said...

Poe is my favorite author to date. I remember in high school having to memorize parts of The Raven and being hooked. I'm glad to see that people still find his reading amazing.

David Cranmer said...

Ed, you have a great site and you beat me to the punch on leaving a message... Thanks for all the Poe recommendations. I normally enjoy George Romero's work, so I will definitely check out Two Evil Eyes. I'm amazed I missed that one. Btw, that's a great pic of your room and books... I need a library like that.

Joshua, The Raven seems to be the first thing that most people think of when you mention Poe, and it's easy to see why.

Chris said...

David, you definitely sold me on Valdemar. Is it a relatively easy story to find? I'd love to read it.

Chris said...

David, whoa, you like Doo Bop? Bold! I actually like it, too, and don't feel the need to compare it to the rest of his legacy, as its critics seem hell bent on. Another one I really got into this past spring is You're Under Arrest. Are you familiar with it? Kind of hit-and-miss, but a few really good tracks.

Hell, man, I like it all--even The Man with the Horn!

Barrie said...

I've always thought there was something incredibly creepy about hypnotism.

David Cranmer said...

Chris, The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar is avaiable on the net at several sites. I hope I haven't built it up too much -remember it came out in 1845. I do love that last line... I have played Doo-Bop for people who dislike Jazz and they end up digging the cd. The same goes for those who dislike hip-hop oriented music (I'm one) but this cd stands out. You're Under Arrest from 1985 has his cover of Time After Time which I like and Ms. Morrisine. Hell, I like 'em all (ha).

Barrie, I was watching The Mentalist last night where a woman is put into a trance to get her to tell the truth. It's a little unsettling to think we could be so easily manipulated.

Chris said...

Doo Bop fails as hip-hop. Production is way more smooth jazz than anything. That said, I can see why it often gets that hip-hop label--there's rapping on a few songs, and some sampling. Easy Mo Bee, though, has to be the worst rapper I've heard. I wonder how successful Miles would have been if he had lived longer. I don't think Doo Bop is as forward-thinking as he would have liked to believe. Proto-smooth jazz with some bad rapping and Miles' inimitable horn. I don't know--lots of bad mixed with good on that album. I'm going to listen to it today and get back to you...unless you're tired of hearing about Doo Bop! LOL
It's rare when you find someone else can you talk with about such minutiae, though.

David Cranmer said...

I do enjoy talking about Miles and Jazz. I'm not into rap so I can't talk about Easy's rapping talents but the music itself is what I like and Doo Bop won the 1993 Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance (my favorite track is Fantasy.) Listening to his trumpet and knowing this was the end makes me appreciate it much more.

Chris said...

>>>Doo Bop won the 1993 Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance<<<

I didn't know that. Nice. "Fantasy" is good track. I always liked "High Speed Chase," and "Chocolate Chip," too. "Duke Booty," on the other hand...

I'm totally going to pick this up from my house at lunch and listen to it in the car.

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