This isn’t technically related to the bicentennial, but the exhibit of Poe in the comics is still running at the Poe Museum. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to see it, you still have until the end of October visit. Even those of you who are not particularly interested in comic books or graphic novels will still be able to appreciate the artistry of some of these drawings and paintings. Among my favorites were the illustrations by Richard Corben for “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Beautifully rendered, these dramatic images really make an impression on the viewer. The murderer’s face in “The Tell-Tale Heart” truly evokes his nervousness and paranoia. Corben’s drawings for “The Raven” are lyrical and enigmatic. They are hanging in a suitably creepy black room on the second floor of the exhibit building along with some dark drawings by other artists.
The first floor of the exhibit contains an overview of Poe in the comics. This section shows how not only Poe’s stories but also Poe, himself, have appeared in comics from the 1940s until today. The area devoted to Poe as a comic character gives the viewer a new perspective on the idea of Poe as a pop culture icon. Here you will encounter Poe joining forces with Batman and helping “the world’s smallest super hero” the Atom fight crime. An original drawing by Rick Geary for his book The Mystery of Mary Rogers details the real Poe’s attempt to solve an actual murder mystery, proving that Poe didn’t need Batman’s help to battle the forces of evil. (Come to the Poe Museum’s Summer 2009 exhibit “Ratiocination” to learn more about how Poe tried to solve some real-life mysteries.)
One case in this room is devoted to Poe parodies. Among these are a Simpsons version of “The Cask of Amontillado” and a story entitled “The Tell-Tale Fart.”
A favorite with many of visitors is Gris Grimly’s watercolor cover art for Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Madness. Grimly uses subtle washes of watercolor with delicate pen-and-ink details to create a twisted world that reminds one of a cross between a Tim Burton film and an Egon Schiele drawing.
In addition to the exhibit, the Poe Museum has published a catalog, The Incredible Mr. Poe, which includes a history of Poe in the comics by Dr. M. Thomas Inge, the collector who loaned many of the pieces in the show, as well as chronology of most of Poe’s comic appearances from the 1940s until 2007.