Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe
Written By: Edgar Allan Poe
Story Adaptation By: Stacy King
Lettering By: Jeannie Lee and W.T. Francis
Art By: Various Artists
Published By: Manga Classics, Inc.
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Iíve always enjoyed the macabre tales written by Edgar Allan Poe. Years ago, I wrote a review of The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales, a compilation of stories by Edgar Allen Poe. I enjoyed the book as I expected I would, picturing the events Poe wrote about it my mindís eye. When Manga Classics announced it would be tackling The Stories of Edgar Allen Poe, I couldnít wait to see these tales brought to life, manga style.
We begin with The Tell-Tale Heart, in which an unnamed narrator relates his tale about the old man with whom he is staying. At first, he is happy in his company, but soon, the narrator becomes obsessed with the old manís strange eye. Feeling it an evil eye, the narrator is gripped with an urge to put himself out of the misery of that eyeís stare. He takes great pains in planning his wretched deed, but once committed, can he survive the guilt he feels over the murder, presenting itself in the sound of a beating heart only he can hear?
Next is The Cask of Amontillado, another story of a treacherous and painstakingly planned murder. In this tale, the narrator feels he has been wronged by another and plans to avenge himself. His prey fancies himself a wine connoisseur and thus, our narrator lures him with the promise of a special wine Ė an Amontillado Ė banking on his inability to refuse an opportunity to show off his vast knowledge of wine to be enough to draw him away from the nightís carnival activities. Little does his victim realize that he is about to spend the rest of his life behind a mason-built wall, never once tasting the promised wine he was lured by.
Following The Cask of Amontillado is The Raven, a poem I had to memorize in school and a haunting tale of the inability to overcome loss written at a time during which Poe was caring for his dying wife. The narrator equates the raven as the harbinger of death, a reminder of the death of his beloved and a prophet of the death that is to come to him Ė the death suffered by one with a broken heart.
Next up is The Masque of the Red Death in which a prince seeks to avoid the plague that has been killing off his kingdom by sealing the heartiest of his kingdom behind his castle walls. Thinking himself safe, he decides to throw a masquerade ball, complete with color-themed rooms. Unfortunately, the last room, a black room with red tinged windows, causes the revelers great consternation, especially each time the clock in the room tolls the hour. When the clock tolls midnight, one guest in particular captures the attention of the revelers, for this guest is clad as death itself. The prince and his court soon learn that one canít cheat death of its prey.
Finally, we have The Fall of the House of Usher, a rather haunting tale in which the narrator relates the mysterious demise of the Usher name and all that they owned with it. Is the final heir of the Usher name a madman, or is there something within or underneath the vast mansion he calls home slowly tearing him asunder? Iíve always found The Fall of the House of Usher to be rather haunting, yet it is not one of my favorite Poe tales.
I must applaud the artistic talents of the illustrators who leant their talents to Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe: Virginia-Nitouhei, Chagen, Uka Nagao, pikomaro, Linus Liu, Man Yiue, Ron, Shougo and Stoon. They have brought the Edgar Allan Poeís stories to life in a way I never could have imagined with my mindís eye. What a terrific way to bring the works of Poe to the younger generations. I wish this had been available to me when I was a child Ė it would have heightened my experiences reading Poe when I was in school years ago. Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe is a great re-imagining some of the manís most haunting tales.