Thursday, November 22, 2012

Edgar Allan Poe's The Conqueror Worm

Adapted by Richard Corben

I will confess that I've never really loved Poe.  I've found his work to be a little overwrought, or maybe even a little pretentious.  I've tried a few times to really absorb his writing, and it seems that no matter how many times I've read 'The Raven', I've never paid attention to it right through the very end.

Richard Corben, however, I do like.  He's always been a comics artist that has stood out for me as someone whose work I can immediately recognize, and I've appreciated his eye for the bizarre.  I've been enjoying his Poe adaptations in Dark Horse Presents lately, although I've often wondered about just how many liberties he's been taking with the source material, as it's always just seemed a little too weird, even for Poe.

With this one-shot which adapts one of Poe's more famous poems, I feel like I finally have a handle on how Corben adapts things.  Basically, it seems that he takes Poe's more bizarre poems, and then transplants them into the types of settings he most enjoys - the deserts of the Southwest.

In this book, he shows us what happens to a Colonel Mann, whose wife has just run off with his cousin (and a servant).  He kills them, and then has a strange encounter with some Aboriginal puppeteers, who invite him and the rest of his family to a puppet show.  The show itself is a grotesque business that looks to tell Mann's story, complete with real guns and the prerequisite nude buxom women (a Corben specialty).  Oh yah, and there are some carnivorous worms.

The poem is reprinted on the last page of this comic, and while there is little in it to connect it to the surrealistic, dream-like narrative Corben has constructed from it, I will never be able to read it without thinking of this comic again.  I'd love to see Corben adapt some other writers in a similar vein.

No comments: