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Graphic Novelty²

Edgar Allan Poe adaptations

Edgar Allan Poe has always fascinated me. I love his work for his poems and short stories have always struck me as the perfect level of macabre and creepy. I wrote a discussion post a few months back about if novels should be adapted into graphic novels once the author can no longer give their go ahead. But Poe’s works are now in the public domain so many feel his work is fair game, with some adaptations having greater success than others.

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Hinds, Gareth & Edgar Allen Poe. Poe: Stories and Poems. 2017.

I have been looking forward to this adaptation by Gareth Hinds that recently came out, for his previous adaptions of classics such as Beowolf, Macbeth and The Odyssey have received rave reviews. I was not disappointed, although I didn’t feel it was a home run either.

The Masque of the Red Death– Using vivid imagery, this story incorporates the theme of “death comes for us all” quite effectively.

The Cask of Amontillado– Revenge most sweet. Fortunato insulted Montresor one too many times, and his own vanity led to his demise with no guilt from Montresor. I have to admit this story appealed to me, for don’t we all at times wish revenge on those that have wronged us?

Annabel Lee– My favorite of Poe’s works, hands down. The poem of lost love and eternal devotion has always appealed to me. I didn’t care for the illustrations for this poem initially, but his interpretation of sacrifice and years going by, grew on me.

The Pit and the Pendulum– Hind’s illustrations were evocative of the fear of the unknown as the prisoner awakes in a jail cell, in which he is tortured by unseen guards and has to use cunning to escape.

The Tell-Tale Heart– An interesting retelling of the tale of a guilty conscience, Hines frames the confession coming from an inmate in an insane asylum.

The Bells– I was not familiar with this poem, but the imagery Hines paired with the stanzas helped build the rhythm, and truly made the bell chimes seem real in your ears.

The Raven– Another of Poe’s stories that lament lost love, Hinds makes the choice to make the narrator look like Poe to great effect. This story’s illustrations were my favorite, and he incorporated little visuals from the other stories into this story. The classical motifs were represented and the raven aptly symbolized the narrator’s grief and his descent into madness.

The illustration style skews young, where I almost felt I should place it in the Juvenile collection at my library, did it not have such dark themes of murder and violence. I feel that this is a strong adaptation, and with the author’s notes about Poe and his stories, it is an excellent introduction for younger readers to then make the choice to study Poe’s additional works.

 

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King, Stacy & Edgar Allan Poe. The Stories of Edgar Allen Poe, 2017.

I am typically not a fan of Manga books, but I was intrigued to read it in comparison to Hinds’s adaptation of Poe’s work, with both works coming out within months of each other.

The Tell-Tale Heart (art by Virginia Nitouhei)- The first story was challenging for me, as I felt the unnamed narrator was too perfect looking (aka Manga-like). But once I got past that, the illustrations told the story very effectively.

The Cask of Amontillado (art by Chagen)- The background of the festival where they two men meet and later the catacombs they enter were well drawn and really gave it a sense of atmosphere. The last page was chilling.

The Raven (art by Pikomaro)- The art work in this story is gorgeous. The visions that the narrator has of his lost Lenore were heartbreaking and the last page of the raven with the grieving man was perfect.

The Masque of the Red Death (art by Uka Nagao)- This ended up being my least favorite, for the story’s very essence centers around the colors of the rooms and what they represent. The lack of color affected the interpretation and it fell flat.

The Fall of the House of Usher (art by Linus Liu & Man Yiu)- I have never been a fan of this story, but the illustrated version of the story elevated it to me. The crumbling estate is aptly drawn and the madness of twins Roderick and Madeline is evident. The sense of impending doom and Gothic despair shine through.

This adaptation is the latest in a series of Manga classics, and I would recommend it if you enjoy Manga and already own previous classics from this collection. I would hope that readers would look at Poe’s additional works, if they enjoyed this strong version of five of his short-stories. I received the online book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and the timing worked out well for me to compare both excellent adaptations of the premier horror writer’s work.

And finally, just for fun, look at this video of Poe and Stephen King having a rap battle of who is the best writer. Poe for the win!

-Nancy

Picture of Poe is from artist Cris Vector on Deviant Art.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Nostalgic Book Boyfriends

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. This week’s T5W topic is about characters you swooned over when you were younger!

History is my jam, so every single character is from earlier centuries. I loved me some historical fiction series, and read these books over and over (and over) again.

Almonzo Wilder from the Little House on the Prairie series. This guy was actually real, and truly a hunk. He saved a town from starvation, drove Laura home every week from her far away teaching job, and was willing to take the word obey out of their wedding vows! Hubba-hubba.

Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables series.  I was reading the book series during the same time as the mid to late 80’s tv mini-series with Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie so the handsome, kind and ever so patient Gilbert shall forever look like Jonathon.

Westley from The Princess Bride. While it was a book first, this is a major cheat, for it is Cary Elwes’s portrayal  in the movie that truly made my heart go pitter-patter. Look at the swoop of hair! So dreamy! I wanted to say “As you wish…” to Westley/Cary as he swept me away to a grand adventure.

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This is where my picks start to get embarrassing. The Sunfire series consisted of 32 books of questionable historical fiction. The main character was always a sixteen year old young woman at a pivotal time in America’s history that had to pick between two men who loved her. My favorite was the Jessica book set in 1873 Kansas and she had to pick between Wheeling Hawk or the widowed farmer Will. Spoiler alert- she choose Will and I was distraught. How could she not pick the far superior Wheeling Hawk? I mean look at those arms! For a funny review of this gem of a book read this post from Young Adult Historical Vault.

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I saved the worst for last. In addition to the Sunfire series, I was a fan of another atrocious historical series, White Indian. Set in New York State before the Revolutionary War, a white baby boy is kidnapped and raised by Indians to become a Seneca warrior. Renno was the greatest warrior of the tribe, and just happened to have blonde hair. My grandma had been reading this multi-generational saga and gave the books to my mom to take home and read herself. I swiped the first book and covertly read it in the car on the long way home from Florida. It had history, sex and  a hottie- I was hooked!

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So there you have it, my nostalgic boyfriends of yester-year. While I cringe at some of my selections, they all make me wistful for a time in which I was young and naive. But luckily for me, my real life boyfriend turned husband, turned out to be better than any of these book boyfriends! ♥

-Nancy

The Mystery Knight

One hundred years before the events of A Game of Thrones, hedge knight Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire, Egg, are heading north to Winterfell, answering a call for men from Lord Beron Stark. Being sworn to no lords, hedge knights travel where they are needed, performing chivalrous deeds for the realm. On the way, they are waylaid by a wedding and the promise of what could be a very profitable jousting tournament. Lord Butterwell is marrying one of Lord Frey’s daughters at the newly built Whitehall Castle. Something seems off, though… many of the men there seem loyal to Daemon Blackfyre, the Black Dragon, who rebelled against his half brother, King Daeron Targaryen, for the throne 16 years previously. Duncan is unseated by a knight who makes him a troublesome offer in exchange for his arms and horse back. Egg goes missing. Only Duncan knows Egg is really Prince Aegon Targaryen, and if anyone has kidnapped him, they’re likely to have found out his secret. Can Duncan unravel the conspiracy in time, before Egg is hurt?

I would have really appreciated a cast of characters at the beginning of this book. There were so many characters, both present and referenced from the past, that I quickly became confused. There are family trees in the Game of Thrones novels, so I don’t understand why they wouldn’t have something similar here. Even so, the story is excellently written, with all the conspiracies and suspense you’d expect from the novels. The art in this book was phenomenal. The figures are meticulously drawn, with lots of little details that made them come alive. The action scenes in this book are easily the best I’ve seen for a while. If you can keep everyone straight, this is a great way to live in Westeros for a bit longer.

– Kathleen

Martin, George R.R., Ben Avery, and Mike S. Miller. The Mystery Knight. 2017.

P.S. No spoiler in the comments, please!

Road Rage

Lately I have been on a Stephen King and Joe Hill kick, and Goodreads noticed. Recently I read The Cape and and on the “readers also enjoyed” sidebar Road Rage was recommended.  I was able to track down a copy and was pleased to see that the book included two short stories- the first written by the father and son duo of King and Hill, but also included an adaptation of the classic story Duel by Richard Matheson.

Throttle: Written by Stephen King and Joe Hill, Adapted by Chris Ryall, Art by Nelson Daniel

With an introduction by Stephen King, the reader is given a homage to Richard Matheson, for this first story was originally included in He is Legend, a book collection of Matheson-inspired stories. King gives Matheson partial credit for shaping him into the writer he is today.

We are introduced to a group of ten bikers, that have a Sons of Anarchy vibe, although they are called The Tribe. The three main characters are leader Vinny, Lemmy, and Vinny’s son Race, with the other bikers getting less face time. At a truck stop they are discussing a drug deal gone wrong, that resulted in a death, and their plans to try to recoup their losses. The leaders speculate that one of the truckers might have overheard their conversation , but figures “No one with any sense would want to get involved in their shitpull”. They were wrong. Out on the road the trucker comes after them, and blood and mayhem endue. You will just have to read the story to find out the trucker’s motives, and the resulting causality count.

The story is illustrated by Nelson Daniel who did the art in The Cape, also written by Hill. I enjoy his work, and liked his computer generated dot matrix that he uses for shading. He was able to make each biker unique looking, and had some great layout designs in his panels.

Duel: Written by Richard Matheson, Adapted by Chris Ryall, Art by Rafa Garres

This story included a second introduction, this time by Joe Hill, and he recounts some fond childhood memories of road trips with his father. As a child he had been fascinated with the movie Duel, directed by Steven Spielberg, and he and his father had fun in the car imagining what they would do under the same circumstances.

The premise is simple, a traveling salesperson is on a deadline, and wants to pass a trucker on a desert stretch of highway. He does so, but the trucker is incensed and starts to play cat and mouse games with the hapless driver. The driver pulls over at a truckstop, knowing he will now be late for the meeting, but as he fears for his safety, he wants to let the menacing trucker go by. Unfortunately for him the trucker also stops as to continue their driving duel. To find out who wins the duel you must read this book and/or watch the movie! In fact, the movie is my Friday night plans, as I was too scared by it in my younger years to watch it to completion.

The art is reminiscent of the famous painting The Scream by artist Edvard Munch, with the swirling lines and emotion of fear coming through the work. Colored with a muddy palette the browns, yellows and oranges aptly depict the barren landscape. At first I was not a fan of the illustrations, and was turned off by the impreciseness of how the driver looked. But his seemingly melted face conveyed his terror as his day went to hell in a blink of an eye.

I would definitely give this book a recommendation, but it will come as no surprise to King and Hill fans, the book is for mature audiences as it has quite a bit of violence with some graphic illustrations.

-Nancy

A variant title page showing King & Hill!

 

DC Bombshell Figurine Review: Killer Frost

I just need to talk about this figurine for a minute ‘cuz

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Look at her!!!

I was just kinda “eh” about Killer Frost’s drawing; I’m not a huge fan of her to begin with and the variant cover with her on it looked a little stiff to me.

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But when I took the figurine out of the box (and it was a very tense 5 minutes let me tell you), I fell in love.

There are lots of fragile parts and there is assembly required. Be careful with the poles, as they are very bendy. The scarf is removable, and you have to attach the skis to her feet before putting her in the base. All the little details are breathtaking. Though she’s by far not my favorite character in my collection, she’s definitely my favorite figurine.

The only bad part was putting her back in the box. I was terrified I was going to snap a pole trying to fit the Styrofoam back together. But she’s safely boxed up again without incident =P

– Kathleen

Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 3): The Truth

Diana is completely devastated after learning she has never been home. She has been deceived into thinking she’d been able to go back and forth between Themyscira and Man’s World at will. Her mind breaks, and Steve hastily admits her to a psychiatric hospital before fleeing to find Etta. Veronica Cale, leader of Godwatch, is still after Wonder Woman, thinking she can lead them to Themyscira. Steve, Etta, and Barbara Ann need to throw them off the trail. But Cale is relentless, and it’s only a matter of time before she catches up to them. How can they stop her when what she wants – Wonder Woman and the way to Themyscira – may be lost forever?

This comic hit me harder than it should have. Wonder Woman losing her sense of self, becoming hurt and confused, is very emotional. Rucka is not afraid to let her be human. With this volume, we are reminded that our heroes are human, too. We are also reminded that we can pick ourselves up, forge on, and eventually our faith will be rewarded. This is by far the best Rebirth title I’ve picked up, and I’m eagerly looking forward to more.

– Kathleen

Rucka, Greg, Liam Sharp, and Laura Martin. Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 3): The Truth. 2017.

High Moon

High Moon is an interesting genre mash up of western, horror and steam punk that I read online.  Originally released between 2007-10 by Zuda Comics, an imprint of DC Comics, it is now being re-released by Papercutz.

This western begins in 1890 in the fictional town of Blest, Texas, which is enduring drought and devilry. Bounty-hunter Matthew MacGregor, a former Pinkerton detective, comes to town under the guise of looking for Eddie Conroy who is wanted by the state of Texas. The young daughter of the local robber baron has been kidnapped, and MacGregor is on the case, and receives some help by the town deputy, sheriff’s daughter and doctor. Surly and mysterious, Macgregor seems to deny that werewolves could be the culprits of recent deaths. A Scottish tartan and guns engraved with the words “Gáe Bulg” point to him being an immigrant or at least descended from one,  but they are the few hints we are given of his past. His battle against the many monsters and the final showdown between them raised more questions about his connection to the paranormal and occult.

Part two now moves to Ragged Rock, Oklahoma with Conroy taking over the mantle of bounty hunter. We get some flashbacks to Conroy’s slave past, yet his connection to another black family that has settled in OK after Emancipation confused me. He gets in the middle of a domestic dispute between two brothers fighting over the love of one woman. The men’s mother uses some Hoodoo magic to help Conroy battle some supernatural monsters, plus Matthew’s brother Tristan has shown up to assist. Tristan has a mechanical arm and utilizes steampunk apparatus to fight.

The art has an appropriate color scheme of sepia tones with an Old West feel to the people and dusty terrain. I was unnerved at how much MacGregor looked like Wolverine in Old Man Logan, and it actually became somewhat distracting. I wanted to call him Logan and expected claws to pop out at any moment. The creatures are appealingly grotesque, and the pages had a nice variety of different panels and layout, so I felt the visuals were top notch.

I received the online book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I had quite a bit of trouble navigating through the book and double checking details, but I won’t count that against the story, for it very well could have been an issue with my tablet. I found the narrative intriguing,  but will not be visiting this supernatural region again as I found it too complicated and frustrating to follow.

-Nancy

You’re Fired Ex-Men (final edition)

Pete Holmes is a wickedly funny comedian, and he had some spot-on videos about the weaknesses of the X-Men team.  For his now defunct late night show, Holmes did a series of skits on the failings of many of the X-Men heroes, and how their vulnerabilities made them a threat to the team. He portrayed Professor X in eleven hilarious but vulgar video clips. I previously spotlighted Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Gambit, Jubilee, Rogue, Storm and Jean Grey. That leaves my last four to get their walking papers! (For mature audiences only)

Angel: What can Angel do besides fly? Does he truly have any other power? Nope.

Iceman: What does the song Kiss From A Rose by Seal have to do with Iceman’s firing? Watch to find out.

Cyclops: What is keeping Cyclops laser beams from killing everyone? His glasses. The glasses that could fall off his head at any time!

Magneto: Professor X insults his arch-nemesis, and their disrespectful quips back and forth are hilarious. Their insults are evenly balanced until the end, when the Professor gets one last dig in.

Thus concludes my months in the making series of these X-Men spoofs. Make sure you enjoy all eleven videos when no tender ears are nearby!

-Nancy

The Legion of Monsters

What better way to celebrate Halloween than with the 1975 first (and only) issue of The Legion of Monsters?

A few years ago I was at the Naperville Graham Crackers comic book store with my husband when I admired a fantastically kitschy painting of three monsters. My awesome husband then surprised me with the picture at my next birthday, and I proudly put it up in my living room every October. When I put up a photograph of the painting on my wall on Twitter, Graham Crackers noticed and told me that it was based off the classic Legion of Monsters cover and they sent over a copy to the DeKalb store for me.

Pulling out the musty magazine out of it’s plastic covering was a walk through another era and I loved it! There were four stories along with a letter from the editor, a monster movie update and gloriously dated ads.

The Frankenstein Monster: The Monster and the Masque  Story: Doug Moench Art: Val Mayerik, Dan Adkins & Pablo Marcos

Frankenstein is just lounging around some city alleys when he sees a beautiful women running by on her way to a Halloween party. Following her in, all the sexy revelers assume he is in costume and talk to him and offer him alcohol. Cynthia believes him to be the strong silent type and dances with him. But he is later fooled by her murderous husband and the murder is pinned on him. Well, Frankenstein won’t stand for that!

The Manphibian: Vengeance Crude Plot: Marc Wolfman Script: Tony Isabella Art: Dave Cockrum & Sam Grainger

A rip off of the Swamp Thing, two aliens emerge from an oil rig, after being trapped for eons. One is clearly the villian, having killed the other’s mate years ago, and he is bent on destruction. The other tries to save a woman who was at the wrong place at the wrong time, but both manphibians are hunted by the oil rig workers as well as the owner of the oil company. Both monsters escape, but the hunt is on…

The Flies Script: Gerry Conway Art & Plot: Paul Kirschner & Ralph Reese

A “freak” formally from a circus sideshow has taken up residence on the outskirts of a town. Some boys and men taunt him as he collects garbage to bring back to his shack where he cares for flies, and he finally snaps when one of the boys sneaks into his home and destroys his fly friends. When a police officer checks for the missing boy, he is horrified as to what Chuckles did for revenge. The art reminds me Mad magazine, for it is deliberately caricature like.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Death, Be Thou Proud! Writer: Roy Thomas Art: Dick Giordano

A long prologue covers previous chapters (found in other magazines) and then advances the story of Lucy as she was being converted into a vampire, and how Dr. Van Helsing and the men who loved her tried to save her. Appropriately Gothic looking, this story begged for more chapters.

In addition to the epic stories, the ads that skewed towards males are cringe worthy now. So many mail in advertisements, but they were that era’s pop-up ads that we have on our computers today. This was such a fun read, and I want to thank Graham Crackers for bringing it to my attention!

-Nancy

*I copied the magazine pictures from a review on Marvel University (scroll down quite a bit to find it).

 

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