Wednesday, June 16, 2010

HAUNT OF HORROR by Richard Corben

Haunt of Horror is a 2009 trade paperback collecting Haunt of Horror: Edgar Allen Poe #1-3 and Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft #1-3. Richard Corben, with some plot and script assistance from Richard Margopoulos, adapts and illustrates poems and short stories by Edgar Allen Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. This volume also includes the source material.

Haunt of Horror opens with a truly awful prose rendition of “The Raven.” Many of Poe’s other poems are retold here, and nearly as badly. The liberties taken with the original texts are always for the poorer, a fact which is made all the more clear by the presence of each original work following the “adapted” stories. “Spirits of the Dead” is one of the few Poe pieces that isn’t awful.

The Lovecraft pieces are better, if for no other reason than that Corben, a respected horror artist, has an opportunity to give image to some of Lovecraft’s vague monstrosities. On the whole, Corben does a fair job, although it certainly doesn’t help that the entire volume is marred by horrendous narration and dialogue.

Corben’s black and white artwork is one of Haunt of Horror’s few pluses. He clearly has some stylistic range (although a few of his cartoonier pieces are questionable choices), and he does a fine job with light and shadow, allowing him to set tone and mood appropriately in spite of the literary travesty taking place all around.

Turning the works of Poe and Lovecraft into little more than tired EC Comics-style poetic justice gory schlock shorts does the original authors a great disservice. Fans of intelligent horror should look elsewhere.