Boston’s prodigal son returns home with a new Edgar Allen Poe graphic novel adaptation by Gareth Hinds. Acclaimed for his adaptations and illustrations of the likes of Beowulf, The Odyssey, and Macbeth, Hinds now takes on Poe’s dark and twisty world. He will discuss his book, Poe Stories and Poems, at several Boston-area events in the next week, including a stop at the Brookline Booksmith on Sept 26.
Each of the seven stories and poems brought to life in the book receives its own special treatment, style, and mood. A sepulchral raven with wings of skulls looms here; there, a glistening eye shines through a sliver of lantern light.
For the illustrator, he says he saw an opportunity to use different styles to reflect the moods of the writing. On the last page, there is an elegant pencil drawing of Poe’s grave with a smudged raven perched atop.
One of the most difficult parts of the adaptation process with this book for Hinds was that Poe often wrote with first-person narration.
“That presents a challenge in that Poe leaves the narrator ambiguous,” he said. “And that’s one of the things that’s lovely about it, is that the narrator sort of could be anybody. But I had to actually choose.”
To find the right visual pairings, Hinds made test pages and played with color and tone, sometimes digitally but in large part still using traditional graphic novel techniques. He said his favorite to adapt was “The Telltale Heart.” For the one person in North America who hasn’t read it, the story involves some slightly gruesome dismembering and the undulations of its titular telltale heart.
“He describes the narrator dismembering this body, which is horrifying enough, but when you do that visually, it becomes over-the-top grisly,” Hinds said. “I had to strike the right balance, which actually was to show very little and leave a lot to the reader’s imagination.”
Leaving a lot to the reader’s imagination does involve the careful laying out of various saws and tools, however, so don’t expect to escape with a clear mind’s eye.
Though Poe left his Boston birthplace with no love lost, and indeed took to calling its residents “Frogpondians,” his eerie prose has resonance as the first leaves begin to change around the Frog Pond. Coupled with Hinds’ exquisite renderings, Poe Stories and Poems is a haunting welcome into autumn.
GARETH HINDS: POE STORIES AND POEMS GRAPHIC NOVEL ADAPTATION.
FRI 9.22. 6:30PM/FREE. BLUE BUNNY BOOKS, 577 HIGH ST., DEDHAM. BLUEBUNNYBOOKS.COM
SAT 9.23. 2PM/FREE. AN UNLIKELY STORY, 111 SOUTH ST., PLAINVILLE. ANUNLIKELYSTORY.COM
MON 9.25. 7PM/FREE. PORTER SQUARE BOOKS, 25 WHITE ST., CAMBRIDGE. PORTERSQUAREBOOKS.COM
TUE 9.26. 7PM/FREE. BROOKLINE BOOKSMITH, 279 HARVARD ST., BROOKLINE. BROOKLINEBOOKSMITH.COM