Halloween Classics: Graphic Classics, Volume 23
Edited by Tom Pomplun
This graphic "novel," like virtually all of the Eureka Productions volumes, is not a novel but a collection of short stories, in this case, five, including Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Arthur Conan Doyle’s mummy musing, “Lot No.249,” Mark Twain’s “A Curious Dream,” and H.P. Lovecraft’s “Cool Air.” The longest piece in the book is a treatment of the silent film “The Cabinet of Dr. Calligari,” illustrated by Matt Howarth.
Extending the theme of the volume are storytelling flourishes evoking the horror fantasy titles of EC Comics: each story is introduced by “Mort Castle,” whose text is illustrated with ghoulish characters drawn by Kevin Atkinson. The cover bears a vaguely familiar logo, which, upon closer inspection, is not EC but GC. Touches like this distinguish Eureka publications.
Among the adapting artists are two of my favorites — Shepard Hendricks on Irving’s headless horseman and Simon Gane on Doyle’s mummy. Craig Wilson, who draws the Lovecraft tale in deep shadows that sculpt shapes so cleanly they seem carved from ice, is new to me, but I’m glad to make his acquaintance.
In these stories — as with virtually all Graphic Classics I’ve seen — the adaptations are not merely illustrated excerpts from the original prose but visual-verbal interpretations in which the pictures contribute narrative information to the speeches and captions. These are, in other words, true comics treatments, in which the words and pictures blend for a narrative meaning that neither the words nor the pictures alone achieve without the other.
And the drawing styles of the artists contribute to the meaning of the tales. Twain’s “Curious Dream” about the exodus of the skeletal remains from a graveyard because the town has neglected its upkeep is a humorous satire, and Nick Miller’s pictures are appropriately bigfoot in manner. Wilson’s shadow-shrouded pictures, on the other hand, are aptly suited to spooky Lovecraft.