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Graphic Classics Volume 10: Horror Classics (Graphic Classics (Eureka)) Paperback – 28 Sep 2004
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Overall, I thought that this was an excellent book, with great stories and wonderful illustration work. I think that my favorites were Lovecraft's The Thing on the Doorstep, W.W. Jacobs' Monkey's Paw, and Clark Ashton Smith's The Beast of Averoigne, with Bret Harte's Selina Sedilia being too funny to miss. Yep, this is a great book, one that my fourteen-year-old daughter and I both enjoyed and both highly recommend!
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Nevertheless, it is not the lack of proper adaptation that draws my major criticism. It is simply the lack of perspective. There is no major overriding theme in this collection. It is a survey, a strange collection of funny stories, parodies, and scary ones accompanied by illustrations that fail to grasp the mood. It seems to me that a good collection of "horror" stories should say something about the genre, something informative, just like a literary anthology does about its collections. Collections often are controlled by some overriding theme, and to say that they are all about horror is not enough. I was quite disappointed with this lack of thematic thread. The scary "Thing on the Doorstep" was followed by one of Poe's parodies, to be followed by a series of tales strangely juxtaposed. Ambrose Bierce's tale doesn't show the best of that author.
From reading this graphic text I have found out that a good graphic text must make the text clearer to its audience; its illustrations should reflect the mood and authorial tone of the text; and finally, if a publishing house attempts to make a collection, this should have a perspective or an agenda. For example, the collection should have included other authors who write similar to Lovecraft. Poe's "Tell Tale Heart" or "Black Cat" would have been excellent companions. Other authors who write in a similar mood and about similar topics have a greater effect on the reader, than loose collections like this one.
"Horror Classics" brings together 12 authors, some of which, like HP Lovecraft , Jack London and Ambrose Bierce, have been previously honored with their own Graphic Classics collections. Others, like Clark Ashton Smith and Honre de Balzac, appear for the first time. All of the stories are well-chosen, and the artists's styles are well-matched.
This collection contains:
"The Mummy" - Ambrose Bierce - A short and witty poem, with a sharp illustration to match it.
"The Thing at the Doorstep" - HP Lovecraft - A brilliant take on one of my favorite Lovecraft stories. The artist manages to capture the "Innsmouth look" perfectly, and uses the author's original text combined with illustrations to great effect. "glub..glub...glub-glub..." You know what I mean.
"Some Words with a Mummy" - Edgar Allan Poe - A clever and light adaptation of a resurrected mummy bantering with a few scientists over which has the superior society.
"In a Far Off World" - Oliver Schreiner - An excellent, melancholy tale. One I have never read before, but am glad to be introduced to.
"The Thing at Ghent" - Honre de Balzac - Entirely dialog free, I am at a bit of a loss as to the actual story. Unfortunately, it is not such a familiar tale as to be able to divine the story from illustrations alone. The only disappointment in the lot.
"The Monkey's Paw" - WW Jacobs - Any fan of "The Simpsons" will recognize this one, although they may have never seen the original. The artist JW Pierard maintains the full weight of the original cautionary tale. Be careful what you wish for, and don't mess with unfamiliar magiks.
"The Open Window" - Saki - Another familiar tale, one that I have heard told but never knew the origin of. A clever almost-ghost story, well adapted in a simple Victorian style.
"A Day Dream" - Fitz-James O-Brien - Cartoonish musings on murder, and the high class going slumming in the Five Points.
"Keesh Son of Keesh" - Jack London - A dark and powerful tale of barbarian culture and blood-rights amongst the Native American tribes. Ryan Inzana's heavy woodblock illustrations perfectly compliment this heavy story.
"Professor Jonkin's Cannibal Plant" - Howard R. Garis - "Feed me, Seymour!" Another comedic adaptation, featuring a foolish professor and his frightening child.
"The Beast of Averoigne" - Clark Ashton Smith - A contemporary of Lovecraft, this tale of a wild comet, a haunted abbey, and the Ring of Eibon, is adapted with appropriate style.
"Selina Sedilia" - Bret Harte - A humorous look at love ever-after between two base villains. And of course, there is only one way to achieve love "ever-after."