Throughout the wonderful series that has been Edgar Allen Poe’s Snifter of Blood, we have been shown the many different sides of the great Poe, and the not so great sides. All in fun and it yielded some great tales of both humor and dissertation. This issue is no different. Of course whenever the team of Peyer and Robinson are in play, I know I’m in for a good day. So with no further ado, let’s look at Issue 6 of Edgar Allen Poe’s Snifter of Blood.

Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Masque of the Red Death’

Our erstwhile host begins our tale where most great literary minds begin their narratives, while standing near a gutter. Who needs a fine library or a roaring fire when perfectly good Baltimore gutters can be found. He comes finely adorned in his sartorial splendor with his ever present Flask, no doubt to ward off the cold. His goal? To regale the reader with his latest literary success, The Masque of the Red Death. Brought to you in exquisite black and white by the dynamic duo of comic splendiferousness, Tom Peyer and Alan Robinson.

 

The Red Death

The Red Death was the enemy of villains everywhere. Many a foul felon could tell the tale how they met their criminal demise at his hands. And while that was bad news for the local thugs, it was of no concern to the local Mob Boss Vito Prospero. While his right hand lackey Lou warned him that the Red Death was wreaking havoc with their men, Prospero didn’t let such minor things bother him. Not while there was a party to throw.

So they invited all manner of thugs along with assorted dope peddlers, politicians, clergy, and bookies. Basically The Who’s Who of polite society. All told, he had over 1000 kinds of muscle at the party with many of them stationed to obstruct entrance or exit. Even IF the so called “Red Death” showed up, the odds were in their favor. So with that peace of mind, Don Prospero played host with extreme confidence. Ever closely followed by his loyal man Lou, who had apparently caught himself a cold. But illness would never stop Lou from being at the bosses beck and call.

Know your Role

However, when you’ve been the confidant of the boss for a long time, you sometimes forget “your place.” So when Prospero offered to show the Bishop around, Lou made the mistake of thinking he might be invited along on that tour. A quick backhand by Don Prospero quickly reminded him of his station. So as Lou rubbed his jaw and contemplated the mysteries of life, Prospero showed the Bishop his imperial Suites. All of which were designed in different brilliant color schemes. They might have been beautiful, if this wasn’t in black and white. Oh the cruelty of this cold world.

But as Prospero had turned to explain his color choices, the Bishop was no longer there. But before he had a moment to question things further, the opposer of all things evil broke through the window. Introducing the crime boss the the fists and feet that were the scourge of his minions all over. As he lay against the wall, Prospero demanded to know who the Red Death thought he was, breaking into his domain. And without an invitation I would wager. You can imagine his surprise when the masked hero raised his mask to reveal the long suffering Lou. The realization just made Prospero even madder. How DARE Lou turn on him? When he had treated Lou like sh…. he didn’t get to finish because Lou sneezed once again, this time right in Prospero’s face. GROSS!

A Lack of Color

It was then we returned to our host who for some reason, had a problem with the presentation of his latest work. He decried the absence of his literary prose, his deeper meaning, and most importantly…where was the DAMN COLOR! Why does everyone want to do his deeply resonant and rich tales in Black and White??!! Alas, the stress was more than his poor (probably inebriated) heart could bare.  Thus one of the greatest writers of our time met his demise, in a Baltimore Gutter. (That sounds familiar).

Bon Bon!

The next tale is a cautionary one for those of us who dare to pass judgement on the literary works of others. Good thing I don’t do that! So for the next entry on the menu for the Snifter of Blood is appropriately called: Bon Bon!

For some well-known critics in the literary world, they make their bones on picking out the flaws in a work, not by padding some authors already inflated ego. At least, that was the way Rufus Wilmot Grimwold saw his calling. Did it tend to make him popular with the literary world at large? God NO!! If that happened, he wasn’t doing his job. So in his line of work, it was not unexpected to be paid a visit by some agent of a supposedly wronged author. Hell, sometimes the author themselves took it upon themselves to plead their case. But when it comes his verdict, the decision is final. Even if it is the devil himself paying a call. Which is exactly the state of affairs in Robert Jeschonek’s devilish tale.

The Author from Hell

The man in question tells the renowned critic that his reputation has traveled even to his domain. In fact, a certain author who resides there proclaims that Rufus Grimwold was virtually the cause of every woe in his life. It probably says something about Rufus when he has difficulty ascertaining who our devilish visitor might be referring to. Many have been the target of his various hellacious but accurate pronouncements of literary defect. But when it is mentioned about the author’s “notorious dark side,” Only one name comes to his mind: Edgar Allen Poe. Many times have Rufus and Poe crossed metaphoric swords over his dismissal of Poe’s sophomoric ramblings.

However, it appears that Poe has earned favor in Hell. In fact, a banquet is to be thrown in his honor and Rufus has been invited to this Soirée. Although, if half the things the author in question says are true, it would be like ‘inviting the swine to a pig roast.” From there, the devil begins to question Rufus about his work and if he had ever treated the yet unnamed author unfairly. Rufus was offended that he was even asked. His reputation  is squeaky clean. At no time has ever an untrue statement ever flowed from his pen. He then was asked if he had ever tried to undermine said writer or to abscond his works. Once again, Rufus, believing it to be Poe they are discussing, denies all allegations. Even while he knows that some are true.

Not Worthy of Hell

It would seem that the Devil has been lead astray. From what Rufus has said, the allegations against him are unfounded. Scurrilous half truths meant to condemn the critic. Rufus above all people should know what THAT’s like. To cause injury to someone by the things they say. But the Devil had heard enough, Rufus was no longer invited to the party. And why? Because he apparently wasn’t evil enough. In fact, if he were to take Rufus word for it, he was no sinner at all. With that in mind, he would be a poor meal for the author to chew upon in hell. Not refined enough for the esteemed author’s palate. It was indeed ironic that while Rufus “couldn’t stomach his work in life, now the author can’t stomach Rufus in the afterlife.”

Well if it’s one thing Rufus Wilmot Grimwold is not, it is subpar. His soul would have made an exquisite meal. One much too refined for the likes of Poe. In fact, his poor attempts at trying to describe his inarguable flavor would out him as the hack that he is. So the Devil queried if Rufus was saying that he had lied to him about his Sins? If so, the invitation was back on. They would leave immediately where he would no doubt see his fellow critics to compare notes. All of them. It would appear Critics are the kindling that stokes the fires of hell. Damn.

Sharper than the Tongue

We next find Rufus, naked and hogtied on a serving table. Surrounded by fire, someone is cutting into his back while Rufus, who cannot help himself, criticizes the man’s technique. But is not Edgar Allen Poe, it is Walt Whitman. Apparently Rufus sharp criticisms have wounded many a renowned author. But now, it is they who will do the cutting. How fitting.

Thoughts

The Mask of the Red Death

Another great issue with two completely diverse stories. Peyer’s The Mask of the Red Death is as so many of his works, a great deal of fun. I even appreciated that he supplied a subtitle to Poe’s opening salvo which basically talks about the human brain and that he thinks really highly of himself. And while the great Poe might not have thought too much of Peyer’s interpretation of the Masque of the Red Death, I can assure him. No one does better job with “Sequential Grapho Dramas” than Peyer and Robinson. Especially where humor is interjected. Now whether they should have used color? That’s really a gray area. (Yep, I went there). Of course, the end also proves what happens when you don’t wear your mask. A good lesson, even now. Real shame about Mr. Poe though. Of course, the following tale proved that Poe had bigger fish to fry.

I will not bore you with my admitted admiration for Alan Robinson’s work. From his work on the cover to the Red Death, his talents never fail to entertain. It is also nice to see that color is optional for Robinson to shine. Although, it might have been nice to see all of Don Prospero’s suites in their vibrancy. I bet they were something to see.

Bon Bon!

This was a very clever, cautionary tale about the dangers of making tearing down others life work YOUR life’s work. Robert Jeschonek spins a unique examination of how the critics work effects those he assails and perhaps, the consequences of taking your job too far. Jeschomek’s Rufus Grimwold is so full  of his own self importance that he fails to see fault in anything he writes or does. And the writer does a great job portraying that as well as the Devil himself doing the interview. It takes skill to make what is in reality a gruesome thing and make it entertaining. Job well done, Sir.

Of course, to make this work, Greg Scott had the challenge of bringing this to life and he did with flair. It is both gritty (when in hell) and stylish at the same time. The design of the devil was especially well done and at no time did you forget visually who he represented. I also loved the little devilish Poe (a nice nod to Harvey Comics Hot Stuff the Little Devil) who poked the bear (Rufus) to get him back in line to go to hell. Nice.

Extras

Our friends at Ahoy always include some extra prose for those of us who didn’t get enough. This issue is no different with three stories included. More elegant if not fatal poetry by Lisa R. Jonté entitled Sedate Expectations. A tourist attraction that brought along more than self-satisfaction by Matthew Sharp entitled Your Tourist Dollars. And finally a selection from Bon Bon! writer Robert Jeschonek called When the Sandwich Comes for You about an author with a unique writers block. You should always check out the extras with Ahoy. You might be surprised what you are missing.

Edgar Allen Poe’s Snifter of Blood Issue 6 can be found where great comics are sold.

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