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Graphic Novel Review: The Poe Twisted Anthology, Edited by Enrica Jang

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Many writers follow in Edgar Allen Poe’s dark literary footsteps, but few take on the challenge of creating anew from his tormented protagonists, and even less dare to attempt it in artistic form. The Poe Twisted Anthology, a graphic novel published by Red Stylo Media, tackles this Herculean task impressively through 13 artists’ Poe-inspired tales.

The Poe Twisted Anthology appeals to diverse crowds — gothic era readers, gore and horror addicts, and digital art junkies.

An introductory foundation in Poe is suggested because the works take on a greater depth when the storyboards nod in his direction.

Poe was misunderstood and mysterious; his writings seem mad and plagued by innumerable demons. Yet, he is the master of psychological thrillers as his writing captures the internal struggles of the guilt-ridden, mentally disturbed, forlorn, and ambivalently murderous.

His ability to take on a first person point-of-view suggests the dark clarity in which he viewed the shadows of human nature, while his post-mortem fame reveals a widespread admission to the truthfulness of Poe’s literary world.

However, unfamiliarity should not dissuade the passing reader since the anthology layout helpfully intersperses direct quotes from Poe’s original tales. This gentle guidance offers readers insight without detracting from the contemporary format and stand-alone stories.

In honor of Poe’s startling works, The Poe Twisted Anthology depicts his unabashed horrors in a modernized, visual form. Poe is more digestible and accessible to the times through this collection; the dreary, sometimes regretful deaths are displayed for the reader without apology, demanding we stand witness to the characters’ grisly handiwork in a way much more blunt than Poe.

Readers will feel a tumultuous range of emotions, including disgust and grief, as in Absolution( a collaborative piece by Jason Ciaramella, Enrique Savory, Jr., Alex Cormack, and Andre Frattino), where a father relives his son’s untimely death due to his reckless actions. They will also secretly cheer on vicious antiheroes in others like Phillip Jacobson’s Dead Man’s Hand”, when a group of college buddies play a fatal poker bet with a dangerous, irresistible co-ed.

Readers are advised to read this anthology in a well-lit room, or conversely, in a completely dark room by candlelight to feel the physiological effects of this work (mild cold sweat and a delightful undercurrent of dread).

The artists’ styles vary from classic rough lines and dramatic shading to almost goofy, rounded simplicity reminiscent of lighthearted comics from one’s childhood — with an ominous edge. Readers are guaranteed to have a quickened pulse and feel almost giddy contentment after reading these tales, like one released from unsettling dream, only to wake in a sunny bedroom, warm and safe.

The Poe Twisted Anthology offers something worthwhile for all (PG-13 due to occasional swear words and explicit, though drawn violence). The Poe Twisted Anthology opens Poe’s mind and shares its contents freely with all; this reader is pleased with the autopsy results.

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