This book is a collection of selected stories by Edgar Allan Poe that have been reimagined in comic format by Richard Corben. Poe is one of my favorite writers, and I had some high hopes for this book before getting into it. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to any of them.

To start, the art style isn’t very aesthetically appealing. The way that Corben draws human faces is quite strange, and though he may have intended them to be a bit grotesque for Poe stories, they were just really odd and I found myself not wanting to look at them. The drawings themselves didn’t seem to be much more than a beginning comic artist’s work, and I honestly have no idea why the person who wrote the introductionย praised Corben’s artwork so highly (I have a theory that this person, M. Thomas Inge, is either a friend of Corben’s or was paid to write what he did). Corben also draws all of the women in every story with huge chests and quite often fully or partially naked. There is a strong sense of the objectification of women in all of Corben’s retellings and illustrations, and this was another very big turn-off for me.

One would think that the text would at least have no problems with it, since it was originally Poe’s words, but Corben made the dialogue bland and cheesy in places. He also didn’t seem to retell the stories quite right. He (supposedly) purposefully combined “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Oval Portrait,” and I didn’t care for the story that resulted from this. Not only did it seem like too much for one story, but it also didn’t follow (what I imagine to have been) Poe’s vision for “Usher.” Corben played up the sibling incest in “Usher,” which is not even explicit in Poe’s original story, as well as changing a good amount of the plot. As a big Poe fan and “Usher” being one of my favorites, this bothered me.

I wish I had anything positive to say about this book, but it was extremely disappointing to me. I read it in one sitting, so at least I didn’t waste too much of my time.

Rating: 1/5 stars

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2 thoughts on “Edgar Allan Poe’s Spirits of the Dead by Richard Corben

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