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Graphic Classics: Lovecraft, Gothics and Stoker
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Article by Scott Tingley, August 30, 2007

There has been a bit of buzz around the internet lately about the latest Graphic Classics graphic novels. There have been three new editions put out over the last few months that I thought readers might be interested in hearing about.

The first of the new offerings is the H.P. Lovecraft edition. This one kind of made me think twice about reviewing it, but I've changed my mind. This one is too much if you are thinking of handing it over to an elementary aged reader, because this is scary looking stuff. I am not at all familiar with Lovecraft (I think I was reading Sherlock Holmes when others were reading HPL), but I wouldn't hand this over to your child or put it in your class unless you would also be willing to give them the original text version. This is a good rulet of thumb to go by with any of these books. Remember, the books in this series are not dumbed down and cleaned up versions of the originals.

That said, I think that this issue really does a nice job of conveying fear and evil; things I assume are heavily dealt with in Lovecraft's original work. The Shaddow over Innsmouth was chilling – I could almost smell the stench of the doomed town. The Cats of Ulthar was made all the creepier by the very cute artwork of Lisa K. Webber. If you weren't paying attention you might think you were reading a children's story. Another standout for me was Sweet Ermengarde . The “rare Lovecraft comedy” is presented as a play with people as the “actors” and with Lovecraftian creatures changing the sets. A humorous break amongst all the awful.

The other two issues I got my hands on are Bram Stoker and Gothic Classics . I don't know what kinds of things Goths read, but if they are actually interested in Gothic literature, this might be the thing for a Goth close to you. My favorite story was At The Gate by Myla Jo Closser, a sweet afterlife story that I think I've heard before, but I'm not sure where or when. The cover and first story is a lengthy vampire story adapted by Rod Lott and illustrated once again by Lisa K. Webber. Here her artwork is more cute than cutesy, which is more fitting for the story. It is sort of a Dracula-lite kind of tale and is a nice way to start. However, not all of the stories involve the supernatural. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is a long tale near the end of the book. I'm not an Austen fan, and this did not change my mind, but I did enjoy the artwork by Anne Timmons.

As with any anthology some stories are hit and some are miss, but I thought that the issue held the quality of the previous ones that I've read.

I am not far into the Bram Stoker yet, but it seems on par with the others. An excerpt from Dracula entitled here The Vampire Hunter's Guide gives a list of both the strengths and weaknesses of the writer's foe. It is informative and funny. The First fifty pages are devoted to a Dracula, which was a good move by the editor – give us what we know about first and hook us before getting to the lesser known material.

I find the books in this series to be very well done and I would recommend these to fans of each particular writer and as a companion for any class study. The books are rated as being for ages 12 and up, and I think this is appropriate due to the content and the level of vocabulary. Again, I feel that whatever age you would let your child read the original text versions is a good age for these versions. Another way to look at it is, if you let your child watch primetime TV, then there should be no problem with these.



 

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