Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 05.15.2013 – Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher #1

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

154
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.2
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 2.9%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Writer: Richard Corben
Artist: Richard Corben
Cover Artist: Richard Corben

Size: 32 pages
Price: 3.99

Richard Corben is 72 years old. I had no idea. He’s literally twice my age, and when he does comic book work, I pay attention. Obviously, it’s not enough to just be impressed by a man his age making comics. No, it’s impressive that a man his age does comics so well, and so specifically. He hasn’t lost a step. I’ve never even seen his work as a young man. I wasn’t around for it. I came along much later, and all I knew was that it didn’t look like anything else, and was instantly recognizable, with bulbous round shapes and stipple-y pen dots. At least that’s how I describe it. Lately, you’ll see him kicking around Dark Horse comics, doing an issue of something to do with Mike Mignola now and again. He stepped out Hellboy’s world though, with Edgar Allan Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher #1, which I grabbed without even thinking about.

So let’s get classy. I remember specifically reading The Fall of the House of Usher in high school. But other than really liking the title, I didn’t remember a thing about it. When I started reading this issue, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I did know that I hoped it wouldn’t be a straight illustration of Poe’s text, because, frankly, if I wanted that, I’d just read the book. Corben did the the whole thing though, other than lettering, and he did it in his style. It’s even got a narrator called Mag the Hag, done in the tradition of the old horror comics, which just adds to the fun of the whole package.

You can’t really go wrong with the source material, and Corben makes the most of it. The whole issue has a slow, metered pace, like the creepy is just around the corner. There’s something really meticulous about the way the camera goes from the face of the Allan (protagonist?) and his surroundings. We see his reactions to things, as he tries to maintain his cool facade, well past the point that things should be cool at all. Every single thing that happens to him in this story (his horse runs away, he trips into a bunch of corpses, his friend is a nude sister painting nutjob, his friend has a super creepy butler, and he keeps getting whacked in the head), should make him run away, but he just stiffens that upper lip and presses forward, like a moron. It’s both creepy and silly at the same time, and where at first I was worried about being bored, as I kept on, I was worried that it would end, which it unfortunately did, until next issue.

Richard Corben’s work is unmistakeable. I could spot it anywhere. Those Marvel fans among you might recognize him from Punisher: The End with Garth Ennis, of Cage with Brian Azzarello. You might even know him from the magical Hellboy in Mexico a few years back. Researching just now, I realized that Corben, again with Azzarello, illustrated the first Hellblazer issue I ever read. The guy is straight skill, and you can’t categorize him. However, as often happens in comics, editors and sales don’t know where to position art like that. But when you know how to find it, you’re in for a treat. There’s a depth to Corben’s art, where he really makes you feel that third dimension, even though you’re only staring at two dimensions tops. I call it a roundness, where his lines are soft, and difficult to pin down. He even colored himself on this one, which really lends the art some nice effect. Roderick Usher and his sister are completely ghastly. You can see his madness. You can see her sadness, and a word doesn’t need to be said about it. It’s right there on the page. It’s the magic of what makes comics work. It’s all the more interesting that crazy Roderick himself is an artist, and when the real artist features the work of the fictional artist, it looks like an actual study of a person is real, except they could not exist like that in real life. Corben’s is the kind of art that no one would try to copy, because they couldn’t do it. You can only learn from, but never reproduce it.

What we’ve got here is a masterful comic book adaptation of a classic story. If this is the kind of thing that appeals to you, I’m going to say you’re safe to pick it up. If this doesn’t seem like your thing, I would say to go pick it up anyway. It’s a merging of old and new storytelling. Poe’s work was a kind of pop fiction, not unlike comic books have been for decades. Corben is a classic artist, but still manages to feel completely cutting edge. I’m sure many artists would like to know how to maintain that sort of balance, but Corben pulls it off with seeming ease. He can draw a hell of a corpse too.

Josh Flanagan
That guy can throw some shadows, right?
josh@ifanboy.com


Comments

  1. I have a suggestion! Maybe it would be nice if would put the name of the author of the pick of the week after the title.

    • On the main page…

    • Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      It is.

      Or do you mean the author of the comic itself? In that case, that wouldn’t be practical. Some books have many, many creators. The information is in the article.

    • Okay! Thanks! I just saw this one today and said to myself “what the…”?

      I just think the name of the author(s) on the main page would be a great homage. But okay, I get it.

  2. Wonder Woman #20 was my PotW. Great bitchy soap opera dialogue & Diana kickin ass:)

  3. Great pick, Josh! I was gonna wait to read this until the second one hit, but the surprise of it being color and its pick-status here just moved it to the top of tonight’s reading…

  4. bah, my shop was shorted copies, so i did not receive my copy. stupid two week wait now.

  5. I have loved Corben since Slow Death Funnies! This books is great, him at his best, taking some of the sensibilities of the underground comix into a more conventional genre. Great pick!

  6. Really great review Josh. If you didn’t make this pick I never would have bought it (and also make it POTW myself).

    Have you read any of the other Poe adaptations Corben has done? He did one last year but he also did a bunch of them for Marvel on their MAX line. I know you’re not a fan of Lovecraft but he did a series doing his work and Poe’s as well. Definitely look into it if you loved this first part of the Usher story.

    • The MAX trade collecting the Poe/Lovecraft series is a great read, equally balanced monster horror and psychological thrillers among the stories he chose to adapt and it’s pretty cool to see the full array of Corben’s artistic approaches, but for this volume, in all black and white (with greytones and washes).

      I’d point you toward “Ragemoor” and “Starr The Slayer” for other great recent stuff by the man (outside his Hellboy stuff, which is superb)…

  7. I picked this up not knowing anything about Corben. Poe got me to flip through the issue in the shop. Corben’s art got me to buy it. The short run guarantees I’ll pick up ish 2.

  8. Corben is 72? Holy Moly. Yeah, his artwork is pretty easily identifiable. I can’t remember the first comic I bought that he did, it may have been Den, but have enjoyed his work off and on for years.

    • My first was a two parter in the 2007 Ghost Rider series. The humans had really weird shaped heads, but Ghost Rider looked badass and the art made the story more distinct (like a 70s B horror movie). I think his style fit Hellboy better tho.

  9. I’m so happy to see this picked. I can only hope that I’m a master of something at 72 other than bullshit. Corben has been a must buy for me for quite some time now. Kubert comes to mind when I think of artists who seem to have some of their best works later in life. Also, John Severin. He was around 76 when he drew that incredible 1st Witchfinder series for Dark Horse.
    Great pick!

  10. My POTW as well without reading the rest of my pull yet but Corben is gold. I’m sure I’ll dig a few other issues from series I really enjoy such as Batwoman, Non-Humans, Cable & X-Force & BPRD and I’m pretty curious for Dream Merchant. Creepy, Hellboy to Ragemoor…the Poe adaptations, Richard Corben knows what he’s doing.

    “Richard Corben stands among us like an extraterrestrial peak. He has sat in his throne for a long time, above the moving and multi-colored field of world comics, like an effigy of the leader, a strange monolith, a sublime visitor, a solitary enigma.”
    —Moebius

  11. Nice pick.

  12. Corben Rocks… nuff said..

  13. You guys should check out the latest issue of “creepy” from Dark Horse comics. Its high quality stuff. This months had a Corben short story in it and a little Corben tribute at the end by John Arcudi (another gem). Anyway its a cool anthology because its all non continuing short stores.

  14. Oh my God! I love this Poe story… I remember reading it in my english classes (I’m Brazilian). It must be amazing! Immediate must buy! One of those comics to give to someone to read, even if they never read comics…

  15. wow i was not expecting you guys to have the same pic as me ever, let alone this week. awesome i hope this guy decides to do some more poe tales, maybe even some lovecraft, that would be tits!

  16. This was fan-freaking-tastic. I picked up Corben’s one-shot “The Conqueror Worm” adaptation recently and after reading that I just HAD to pick this Poe adaptation up too. Do not regret.