Ed & Edgar

my adventures in the cult of Poe

and other literary endeavours

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Wednesday
May212008

Ed and Edgar

Nigel Beale, writer, bibliophile and broadcaster of the Canadian radio program, 878004-1586073-thumbnail.jpgThe Biblio File, was in town recently for the Philadelphia Book Festival and he interviewed the Philly Poe Guy about all things Poe.  Nigel also took this picture of me and my talisman, along with some other cool shots of Philly,  the true home of Edgar Allan Poe. 

I'll let you know when the interview is posted.

Tuesday
May132008

Lippard talk

The George Lippard talk at the Edgar Allan Poe House went remarkably well.  We had a packed room.  Some authors showed up, too, like Gregory Frost whose first published story was about Poe, "In the Sunken Museum" (it's available in Greg's collection, Attack of the Jazz Giants).  Greg also posted about the event at his own blog.  And Cordelia Biddle was there, whose new Deception's Daughters will be out later this summer (I blogged about that here).  Nick Bucci showed up and we're definitely going to take a tour of the Wissahickon soon, so if you're interested in joining our excursion, leave a comment here or shoot me an email.  Also in attendance were NoirCon master Lou Boxer, Poeist Rob Velella, fellow Lippardian Ric Ben-Safed, Dickensian Herb Moskovitz, International Noirist Pete Rozovsky, architect Alvin Holm and, of course, my favorite Park Ranger, Helen McKenna-Uff. 

My first idea for the talk was to give an in-depth look at the relationship between Poe and Lippard, both personally and critically, but I figured that most people just don't know enough about Lippard yet, so I focused on Lippard's life and works, especially The Quaker City.  I've been invited back to give a talk on the intersections of Lippard and Poe.  I'll let you know when that will be. 

A great Q&A followed in which we got to talk about Poe, Lippard's devotion to him, Rosicrucians, Johannes Kelpius, and the Wissahickon Valley.  Most unusual question: Is spermaceti a hallucinogenic?  See my post on The Quaker City blog about my Lippardian research.

Friday
May092008

More Poe comics fun

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Horrors of It All
All month, the Horrors of It All blog will be posting pre-code comics adaptations of Poe stories.  This week is a 1952 version of Pit and the Pendulum.  Garish colors.  Rats galore.  Lots of exclamation points!!!  And . . . the Spanish Inquisition!
Friday
May092008

Lippardmania!

Just a reminder that my talk on George Lippard is tomorrow, Saturday May 10 at 2PM.  Details here or at the Philly Poe House site.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday
May082008

My Poe Comics Weekend

Poe%20Graphic_Classics_Sampler.jpgLast Saturday was Free Comic Book Day, so I dutifully took my children to the nearest comic shop to further initiate them into the joys of comics.  One of the freebies I picked up was a Graphic Classics sampler featuring Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat" (along with stories by Conan Doyle, Ambrose Bierce, Lord Dunsany and Mary Shelley).  It's a faithful adaptation by Rod Lott, illustrated in a realistic style by Gerry Alanguilan.  I have to admit I'm not very adventurous when it comes to comics--I prefer real-life representational drawing--so this adaptation was very welcome and there was just enough of the story to whet a reader's appetite for more Poe, a bit condensed, but still very much Poe. 

On Sunday, I went to the Abington Library with some crime novelist guy to see Jim Warren, the brilliant publisher of horror magazines in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.  As a boy, I was a big fan of his Famous Monsters of Filmland and couldn't wait to receive my monthly allowance money, so I
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Warren, Swierczy and Philly Poe Guy
could blow it all on the latest issue (my father just shook his head in bewilderment).  Warren also published Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella in magazine format (as well as many others).  I was gratified to learn that Warren grew up in the same Philadelphia neighborhood as I did and actually edited all his early magazines from home (on his dining room table).  Karen Burnham, at the library, took lots of pictures which you can see here (with captions) and many more here.  There are also video snippets of Warren talking here.  A stellar event with a stellar guy.  Warren is a joy to hear. 

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Uncle Creepy introduces Cask
Warren's magazines often featured Poe adaptations and a few weeks back, Golden Age Comic Book Stories Blog featured a whole week of Poe illustrations and comics, including some of Warren's.  The Golden blog is wonderful--so many great things besides the Poe week--but it's not very reader-friendly.  It's hard to search and find particular entries and they're sometimes spread out over several entries for a day.  Nevertheless, what a treasure trove.  If you click here you'll get the archive for April and if you scroll down al the Poe stuff is at the bottom. 

To make it easier for you, here are the links to Warren's Creepy and Eerie Poe adaptations.  Each image is a thumbnail, so it blows up to a readable size if you click on it:

Tell-Tale Heart, part one 

Tell-Tale Heart, part two

The Black Cat, part one

The Black Cat, part two

The Black Cat, part three

Cask of Amontillado, part one

Cask of Amontillado, part two (note how Montressor gets his comeuppance on the last page)

Friday
May022008

Poe and Lippard

878004-1537227-thumbnail.jpgCan it get any better than Edgar Allan Poe and George Lippard? Together?  In PoeSeated.jpgPhilly?

Well then, come on down to the Philly Poe House at 7th and Spring Garden Sts in the Athens of America on Saturday, May 10, 2PM. I'll be talking about that way cool gothic novelist, journalist, labor reformer, historian, Philadelphian and friend of Poe, the mighty George Lippard!

The event is free, but reservations are recommended. Just call the Poe House at (215)597-8780 to reserve a spot. 

Sunday
Apr272008

More photos from RMWHS event

Some folks I met at the RMWHS:

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Fellow Poeist Rob Velella and the Philly Poe Guy

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Wissahickonist Nicholas Bucci (who owns neither a TV nor a computer) and the Philly Poe Guy (who spends a lot of time with both a TV and computer)

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RMWHS president Karen Sears and the Philly Poe Guy

All photos by my lovely wife, Kate

Sunday
Apr272008

Silent Poe

I just finished watching a bio film of Edgar Allan Poe from 1915 entitled The Raven, directed by Charles878004-1523044-thumbnail.jpg
Walthall in The Birth of a Nation
Brabin and starring Henry B. Walthall as Poe.  The title card read: The Raven (a romance of Edgar Allan Poe by George C. Hazleton.  Founded upon Mr. Hazleton's widely known novel and play).  Although the film plays fast and loose with the Poe's life, there are some fine scenes, especially the one depicting his time at the University of Virginia, inspired here by Poe's doppelganger story "William Wilson."  In the movie, Poe becomes a drunkard at school and hallucinates a card game in which he plays against himself, is cheated and challenges his self to a duel.  He kills himself and the dead Poe vanishes along with the spectators.   "The Raven" poem is also dramatized as a drink-inspired hallucination with some cool double-exposure special effects.  Of course a black cat makes an appearance ('cause you can't have a Poe film without a black cat showing up) when Poe places one on the chest of his dying wife, Virginia (Was he just trying to keep her warm?  Or was there some sinister idea here?) 

This is the Poe as tormented drunken genius, however, the movie also plays out as a poverty melodrama, with Poe unable to sell his manuscripts to support his family.  One curious element: Helen Whitman makes an appearance (played by the same actress, Warda Howard, who also plays Virgina, the spirit of Lenore and some kind of heavenly angel), but Poe doesn't meet her in the film.  I wonder if footage has been lost.  The IMDB page lists the original runtime as 57 mins, but the DVD runs 45 mins.  I'm not sure how accurate run times are with old silent films, but something definitely seems missing here.  Another curious element: Poe rescues a slave being beaten by a cruel owner and the eye-rolling, black-faced, unnamed slave remains loyal to Poe to the very end. 

Watch this if you get a chance.  There are some arresting visuals and a great score.  I'm glad I watched a copy from Netflix even though I already own a copy as a special feature on Mark Redfield's The Death of Poe DVD set, because the film score on the Netflix one is much better than the original one on Redfield's.  Redfield's version does provide an excellent (although rambling) audio commentary for the film and his set also contains The Avenging Conscience, another film starring Walthall, based upon Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart," that has been called "the first psychological horror movie."  I'll be watching that one next. 

Saturday
Apr262008

Poe and the Wissahickon

My "Edgar Allan Poe Belongs to Philly" speech (or should I start calling it the "Let's dig up Edgar"
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PhillyPoe pontification
speech) for the Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society on Wed night went very well.  We had a good attendance of 25-30 people who asked some great questions following my talk.  Thanks to RMWHS president Karen Sears, and also John Hartman and Sylvia Myers, who both saw me deliver this speech at the Manayunk Arts Center in Feb. 

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showing the crowd the CP story that started it all
I had the pleasure of meeting some great people including local Poe (and Griswold) scholar, Rob Velella, who gave me some good feedback about my talk, and Nick Bucci who had lots of info about the Wissahickon Creek and whom I hope to be soon joining for a tour of the area.  The Wissahickon was a favorite spot for Poe while he lived in Philly and he wrote about it in the piece, "Morning on the Wissahiccon," later reprinted as "The Elk:"

the Wissahiccon, a brook, (for more it can scarcely be called,) which empties itself into the Schuylkill, about six miles westward of Philadelphia. Now the Wissahiccon is of so remarkable a loveliness that, were it flowing in England, it would be the theme of every bard, and the common topic of every tongue . . . The Wissahiccon, however, should be visited, not like "fair Melrose,'' by moonlight, or even in cloudy weather, but amid the brightest glare of a noonday sun; for the narrowness of the gorge through which it flows, the height of the hills on either hand, and the density of the foliage, conspire to produce a gloominess, if not an absolute dreariness of effect, which, unless relieved by a bright general light, detracts from the mere beauty of the scene.

George Lippard was also a lover of the Wissahickon (see my post on the Quaker City blog) and 878004-1522390-thumbnail.jpg
Bring Poe home!
included it as a setting in several of his works.  Lippard married his wife on a rock overlooking the creek by moonlight.  One source says they married on May 14, 1847, but I haven't been able to confirm this.  We're not even sure which rock it was.  I suggested Mom Rinker's Rock, but Nick Bucci thought it was another one across the stream.  So, if you are around the creek on May 14, don't be surprised if you see a fat, bearded, middle-aged man, huffing and puffing his way up to a rock. 

(photos by my lovely wife, Kate)

Monday
Apr212008

Local Ed & Edgar appearances

If you are free on Wed night Apr 23 and in the Philly area, I'll be at the Roxborough Free Library, 6245 Ridge Ave, Phila on Wed night at 7PM giving my Poe Belongs to Philly presentation for the Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society.  You are invited. 

And in a few weeks, I'll be at the Philly Poe House, 7th and Spring Garden Sts, Phila on Sat May 10 2pm talking about Poe's friend, George Lippard.  Hope to see you there.