I would really love to visit two great authors from the early 20th century: Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain. They had really different personalities but they both changed our view of literature forever. The brooding Poe created a completely new atmosphere and sarcastic Twain enjoyed and described the best boy′s adventures there are.
Imagine beautiful landscapes, no internet and a man who hates the “sunny disposition” of its peers. That was Poe, and his poem, The Lake really describes his taste for horror and gloom:
In youth’s spring, it was my lot
To haunt of the wide earth a spot
The which I could not love the less;
So lovely was the loneliness
Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,
And the tall trees that tower’d around.
But when the Night had thrown her pall
Upon that spot, as upon all,
And the wind would pass me by
In its still melody–
My infant spirit would awake
To the terror of the lone lake.
Yet that terror was not fright,
But a tremulous delight–
And a feeling undefin’d
Springing from a darken’d mind. […]
That thrill and delight he experiences with horror has one great tribute in comic form: Hellboy, and is specifically represented in an adaptation of Poe′s poem The Conqueror Worm.
Hellboy, Vol. 5: Conqueror Worm, includes the four issues of the mini-series. It starts with a colossal adaptation of the poem, interpreting Poe’s parable of death and giving it a literal meaning: a worm that will devour the world.
Out—out are the lights—out all!
And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, “Man”,
And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.
Another homage to Poe’s world can be found on A Box Full of Evil, inside Hellboy, Vol. 4: The Right Hand of Doom.The box and its demonic content are found in a house that is exactly described as the one featuring The Fall of the House of Usher
I looked upon the scene before me—upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain— upon the bleak walls—upon the vacant eye-like windows—upon a few rank sedges—and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees—with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium—the bitter lapse into every-day life—the hideous dropping off of the veil.
Mignola knows his classics, and he enjoys the same “tremulous delight” Poe experienced with creepy stories. Surely these are not the only references to Poe in his work, but they give a good idea as how he treats his inspiration sources and the way he makes them into something new and thrilling.
For this entry I used Scholastic’s The Raven and other Poems book, all the poems are quoted from it. I can’t recommend it enough, Poe has a melodic quality to his poems, and they are fun to read aloud, albeit a bit terrifying.
Featured image by Mike Mignola.