The Hidden S in Phone Booth

The Hidden "S" looks at The Influence of Poe on the Comics... Edgar Allan Poe was born 200 years ago on January 19th, 1809. This bicentennial seems the appropriate time to explore some of Poe's appearances within the framework of the modern comic book. Poe’s influence on comics is an interesting notion and few authors of American literature have had as great an impact on comics as EAP. If Poe was not the inventor of the short story, he was definitely a real innovator and popularizer of this form. It may be argued that the comic form follows some of the ideas in the classical short story (telling a narrative in an economic and compact format). Obviously, any number of superheroes such as Batman, Elongated Man and Rorschach have been portrayed as detectives of one sort or another. Poe has had a fairly long history in the comics. Most notably, his comics have been adapted many times by such comic publishing staples like Classics Illustrated. Poe has also been well-represented in horror comics. The Poe Superhero comics connection is present in a very obvious way with the 2003 Else-worlds miniseries Batman: Nevermore where a 19th century Batman teams up with Poe. The plot is a typical one involving the Dark Knight’s investigation of a series of murders in Baltimore which the public thinks he may be involved with. Poe (a young reporter) is enlisted by Batman to help investigate the situation. Writer Les Wein inserts various themes and characters from Poe within the context of the story and artist Guy Davis recalibrates Batman’s costume slightly so that it has an appropriately 19th century “feeling.” Author Wein attempted to write in a style similar to the Gothic prose of Poe (a respectable effort). Another Batman association is in the Batman: Confidential series where the Caped Crusader's "Bat-Computer" is nicknamed "Dupin," in honor of the fictional super-detective created by Poe. Poe certainly created the modern fictional genius detective figure with C. Auguste Dupin. This character-a sophisticated Bohemian-was featured in stories by Poe, including "The Purloined Letter" and "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." Dupin as a character also makes an appearance in the O'Neill/Moore series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He is in the first two issues assisting in bringing Mr. Hyde to justice during a rampage through Paris (Poe's character sadly was eliminated from the film). The literary Dupin has some archetypal qualities that resemble superhero type characters, as evidenced by some elements of Dupin in the sly, sophisticated John Constantine character. DC had an interesting Poe related graphic novel that was published in 2002 titled In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe. The graphic novel was visually memorable with its use of photographic techniques and offbeat narrative. The work concerned a fictional account of a scholar’s investigation into Poe’s secret diary. The conceit of the work was that Poe might possibly have been influenced by supernatural rather than emotional demons in the creation of his work. Poe's profile has been elevated of late and he even has had a recently released US postage stamp in his honor. Perhaps it is time to revisit Poe's work in comic form. How about an Else-worlds type crossover with Poe and John Constantine. Or Poe and Zatana?