WWWednesday: The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo
writer: Dwight L. MacPhearson
artist: Thomas Boatwright
letterer: Thomas Mauer
Since I became so enamored with Thomas Boatwright’s work in Cemetary Blues, and I watched the Star Trek: Voyager episode “The Raven” last night, I thought I’d have no better reason to look up his The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo for this week’s WWWednesday.
The first few pages actually lead the reader to believe that this comic’s title character is a little Poe poo, flushed down the toilet and thrust into an adventure with a few wise sewer rats. Before long, though, Poo and the reader begin to understand the enormity of his situation, despite Irving the rat’s cryptic help; apparently, when Poe lost his wife, he prayed he would never dream again, as the sight of her was too much to bear. Therefore, God extracted the author’s imagination in the form of this little Poe poo, who, upon, uhm, expulsion, has begun his journey to return home. This adventure takes Poo through a few mystical lands and introduces him to new friends along the way, in a The Odyssey-meets-The Wizard of Oz fashion. The result is a highly entertaining epic of gothic proportions, infused with enough humor and suspense to keep the reader clicking his mouse for more.
Of course, I can’t praise Boatwright’s art enough, though his style is still obviously in development compared to the carefully crafted page layouts in Cemetery Blues. The bottom line is, his projects perfectly suit his style, as his cartoony characters are exaggerated enough to boast the expressions one might expect from these extreme situations, yet they retain an element of traceable humanity that makes them incredibly sympathetic, as well. His airy graytones capture the spirituality of the piece; the reader is challenged to remember that Poo’s adventure is essentially all imaginary -- rather, in fact, the epitome of imagination. In a realm where anything is possible, Boatwright helps us believe it. MacPherson's dialogue is rich, as well, sucking the reader into the story's depths without drowning him in the complexities of these mythical events. I felt invested, but not digested, if that makes any sense.
Sixty pages deep, and this series appears far from over. With such rich subject matter, including the endless despair of Poe himself, I bet the sky’s the limit with a concept like this. I never thought I’d actually envy Poe; for all of his demons, I wish I could meet a little incarnation of my imagination unleashed. I’d love to know what it’s really capable of.