A highlight of my young comic book reporting career thus far was talking with horror master Richard Corben on adapting Edgar Allan Poe with Dark Horse!


“Corben Combines Poe’s ‘Raven’ with ‘Masque of the Red Death'” — Click to read entire article

“When horror master Richard Corben revisits ‘The Raven’ this fall, he breaks away from the traditional telling of the tale and joins it with the Poe short ‘The Masque of the Red Death,’ an amalgamation similar to his latest ‘Usher’ adaptation, which seamlessly combined ‘Usher’ with Poe’s ‘The Oval Portrait.’ CBR News spoke with Corben about his latest Poe adaptations with Dark Horse, with the creator illuminating his process and reaffirming his undying reverence for the historic writer.

CBR News: In your latest ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ adaptation, you combined this well-known story with Poe’s ‘Oval Portrait’ poem. Unexpectedly, the first issue of ‘Usher’ tells ‘Oval Portrait’ in its entirety — your adaptation, however, plants ‘Portrait’s’ leading woman into the confines of the Usher estate. Why take the tale in this direction?

Richard Corben: I have done adaptations of ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ several times before, including a few non-comic illustrations. This time, I wanted to make the story different from the versions I had done earlier. There are similar elements in the two stories, such as a painter, his lover/model in a remote setting and especially their obsessions about inanimate objects that are living (the house in Usher, the painting in Portrait). In 1928 a French film maker, Jean Epstein, did ‘La Chute de la Maison Usher’ which combined both stories.

In my new comic version, the ‘Oval Portrait’ part seems to be over, but the painting of Madeline still is an important element in the second part, as you probably know by now.

Coming up with Dark Horse, you’ve blended Poe’s short story ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ and the poem ‘The Raven’ into one tale. Poe described The Red Death itself as spanning the course of 30 minutes and inciting ‘sharp pains and sudden dizziness, followed by profuse bleeding at the pores with dissolution.’ Do descriptions like this make you want to start drawing on the spot as a horror artist?

Poe’s description of the Red Death plague is pretty nasty, but if you research the real plagues that ravage the world from time to time, it might even seem to be comparatively merciful. After all, what’s worse? Suffering for 30 minutes, then dying, or suffering for several days, then dying. I think Poe had some special fear and distaste for the symptoms he described because they are similar to the effects of tuberculosis which killed several members of his family.”