New Miniseries Expands Poe Classic


In Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story, The Cask Of Amontillado, the wicked Montresor enacts a cruel vengeance on drunken buffoon Fortunato. Beginning in January 2016, Action Lab will publish a new comic adaptation of this story as the first part of a five-issue project fleshing out the character and destiny of Montresor. The first issue will adapt the original short story, The Cask Of Amontillado, and the remaining four issues will be The House Of Montresor, an original story covering the killer’s life fifty years later in a German village. The story should be available in a graphic novel format early summer 2016. Series artist Jason Strutz spoke to Bam Smack Pow about this upcoming book.

Strutz has been a published comic artist for years, beginning with an adaptation of some of the characters from Midsummer Night’s Dream in a book with Jeremy Whitley, later of Princeless and Illegal fame. His interest in “creepy stuff” and “literary aspirations” developed further in projects like the illuminated manuscript Pizzula, a horror comedy. Two years ago, Enrica Jang brought scripts for this Edgar Allan Poe idea to Strutz, with whom she had collaborated on two anthology pieces at Red Stylo. It appealed to the pair because Poe’s work brought such tension to the revenge story between Montresor and Fortunato but left extensive extra space – “The story is more about the revenge itself than why it was committed.” Jang and Strutz have now completed three of the projected five issues and secured publication through Action Lab, responsible for works like Princeless, Puppet Master, and Ehmm Theory.

For a visual language, Strutz followed the tone of Poe’s story to the evocation of a 70’s-era vampire film, meaning “Gothic horror, colored lights, and shadows that look nice, design-wise.” The Venetian Carnival of the tale’s opening gave the adaptation “crazy masks, architecture,” and “themes of chasing after the best wine… a little bit of drunken debauchery.” Strutz brought a love of color to the dark material by making a decision to electrify more of the city than had been in Poe’s original setting before following doomed Fortunato underground to catacombs visually similar to the bone tunnels in France. For these, he researched Venetian architecture and theatrical costuming, but he chose to deliver “a heightened version of the time period.” This style refines gradually as the series jumps ahead decades and moves to Germany, where the elderly Montresor still dresses in a style stuck in his Venice days.

Amontillado is in Previews this month (page 233), and Strutz discussed the importance of preordering. Comic stores use the Previews catalogue to order stock, and if customers specifically ask for certain comics, the retailers get a better sense of the market for the book and can better decide how many to order. Publishers base the printing on the pre-orders, so this is especially important for smaller books. Interested readers who miss the mid-December cutoff for the January publication of Amontillado can still use Action Lab’s Comixology page for a digital copy, but second runs of physical printing are uncommon among independent publishers.

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