There’s something in the news that has been bothering me. So much so, I’ve got to say something about it. No, it is not Kim Davis’ court ruling, although that is part of it. No, what bothers me is how breaking the law is a paramount issue there.
Well, it’s over. Finally.
The show’s entire season has been sitting on my DVR for months now. This morning I finished the last episode.
Overall; it was ok. I think it was leagues above “The Big Bang Theory” in terms of representing Nerds and culture to the general public. It included a diverse cast and with different personalities and interests and kept from relying on stereotypes.
The premise of the show is 7 “geeks” are gathered together to help the Head of Stan Lee’s Comikazi event prepare for the event. The cast included a healthy mix of men and women (and 1 Black Guy!) who all worked together for a summer, and one of whom would be chosen to remain permanently.
Every episode revolved around the group having to finish a difficult task for the Regina (the Head of Comikazi) and finished with the group reflecting on their success/failure. No tearful terminations here.
Admittedly I found myself enjoying the show despite having reservations before seeing it. All of the cast displayed relatible, affable traits that made me root for them to succeed and get the job at the end. Even Molly Mcissac.
I knew of her from her writings (/rants) on Ifanboy and various interactions on the site. While at times I found her endearing, she remained my least favorite person on the show (not counting Regina). On Ifanboy she told me she saw herself as the voice of reason on the show; how many people do you know who say such things aren’t somewhat egoistical? I certainly didn’t see her as the voice of reason, unless you count major delusions and tirades. Entirely possible I’m biased from stuff she’s said on Ifanboy.
My favorite on the show would have to be Mike.
He was confident, funny, charismatic; all the things that go against the typical Geek stereotypes.
Once again, I found all of the cast delightful and entertaining in their own ways; Sal’s goofy demeaner, Paul’s deprecating attitude, Andrew predicting various romantic relationships happening in the first episode, Dani wondering if Sal is boyfriend material, Kristen’s hard work and determination. I grew to like all of them and their quirks.
Overall, a solid geek centric show (mini-series?) that sprang from SYFY’s programming. I wouldn’t be interested in another “season” of Fangasm unless the original cast returned. I see plenty of ways that SYFY could get them to return and put together something for them to do for another 6 episodes. Regardless, I had fun with the show even if it ends with the final episode. B+.
It’s not very often I pick up a comic adaptation of something. Usually it’s an old movie or book being adapted that ultimately falls short of the source material itself. Now short stories or poems on the other hand? I think those do very well being translated to the comic page.
In case you’ve never heard of Richard Corben, shame on you. I guess the guy is somewhat of an industry legend; contributing work to all the major companies and almost 73 years old. And still going strong as far as I know. My first experience with Corben’s artwork was in a two-part Ghost Rider story in 2007. The artwork was very “chunky” and exaggerated but also very atmospheric and detailed in its own way. My next encounter was in a three issue mini-series of Hellboy called “The Crooked Man” which ended up being one of my favorites (just the latest in a long line from that series). I thought Corben’s style fit much better with the shadowy grit and gore of Hellboy than Ghost Rider at the time, but upon reflection that’s just because of what each of them required from Corben’s hand.
If you one of the many Ifanboy refugees that found this site, you might recall a while back that Richard Corben’s adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” #1 was the Pick of the Week. For me that gave me a push to go to my LCS and pick up the issue. I hadn’t read the short story at the time but I was struck by the story in the comic. Recently I picked up Corben’s most recent take on a Poe work, “The Conqueror Worm”. So I thought I would go and read the text version of both stories and do compare them to Corben’s translations. Spoilers down below.
Reading Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher”, I was really surprised by the differences to the comic by Corben. Poe tells the tale of a man visiting a childhood friend after he receives a letter asking him to visit. The man journeys many miles to see this friend, Roderick Usher, at his home far out in the country. He deduces that Roderick is ill and notices many strange quirks that he’s picked up since they had last seen each other. The man commits himself to helping Roderick get in better shape before he leaves The House of Usher. All of this could make for a suspenseful and exciting tale but Poe spends too much of the story overly explaining the main character’s feelings and thoughts. Towards the Climax of the story the last few pages are of the main character reading an Arthurian tale of Lancelot which at the end parallels events in the real world. On the last page the story ends with something so out of place that it makes the Godhand resolution at the end of Stephen King’s “The Stand” look completely natural.
In Corben’s tale, a man named Allen is traveling to the House of Usher to see his childhood friend Roderick. On his way he encounters several incidents of misfortune before finally reaching the house and being knocked unconscious. He works up to find Roderick short and distant with him, obsessed with finishing a painting of his sister Madeline. Madeline comes to Allen in the night and urgently asks him to take her with him when he leaves before abruptly leaving his room for fear of discovery. The next day Allen sits with his Roderick as he paints his sister. After several hours Madeline begs for a reprieve and Roderick angrily refuses. After finally finishing his most lifelike painting he has ever completed, his sister falls down dead.
Now, the differences. In Poe’s tale the main protagonist arrives at the house uneventfully, never actually meets Madeline, and Roderick alternates between sullen and morose and fevered disinterested excitement. I found Corben’s tale more engrossing, even though I was unable to find the second issue which completes the tale (Sorry, ghostmann). There’s more action, and the characters seem to act more naturally. I can imagine the second chapter of the comic goes rather strangely unless Corbin added to it. He says in the afterword of the first issue he combined the story with another called “The Oval Painting”, which despite owning three different collections of Poe’s work I was unable to find. However it really seemed to benefit the overall narrative.
Lo! ’t is a gala night Within the lonesome latter years! In angel throng, bewinged, bedight
In veils, and drowned in tears, Sit in a theatre, to see A play of hopes and fears, While the orchestra breathes fitfully The music of the spheres. Mimes, in the form of God on high, Mutter and mumble low, And hither and thither fly— Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things That shift the scenery to and fro, Flapping from out their Condor wings Invisible Wo! That motley drama—oh, be sure It shall not be forgot! With its Phantom chased for evermore By a crowd that seize it not, Through a circle that ever returneth in
To the self-same spot, And much of Madness, and more of Sin, And Horror the soul of the plot.
But see, amid the mimic rout, A crawling shape intrude! A blood-red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude! It writhes!—it writhes!—with mortal pangs The mimes become its food,
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs In human gore imbued. Out—out are the lights—out all!
And, over each quivering form, The curtain, a funeral pall, Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallid and wan, Uprising, unveiling, affirm That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”
And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.
Now this was a much more drastic change. As you read above, “The Conqueror Worm” is a poem instead of a short story. So how was Corben able to adapt it? The comic starts out with a man hunting down his wife and cousin who have run off together and shooting them in the desert, killing them. As he does to kill their servant, he finds his skeleton being consumed by large grey worms which attack him. He survives and meets some colorful Natives who invite him and his friends to a theatrical performance that night. And so He returns home to gather his family and comes to the site where he met the Natives. He arrives to a strange grouping of structures made of old wood with a Native woman painted grey and dancing naked outside. The group of patrons goes inside the building and watches a puppet show which chronicles an angry King killing his Queen and Knave who have fallen in love. The main character rises from his seat upset and goes backstage to confront the actors. He finds that one of the female performers has been eaten alive by the same kind of worms he saw earlier, and which her lover also falls prey to. Running in revulsion the man finds the same as happened to his gathering of friends and runs out into the desert being attacked by the worms.
I’m no literary expert, but I think I understand the moral of the story. The (Conqueror) Worms represent Man’s sins consuming him out of penance. The central Protagonist’s murder of his wife and cousin, the female Native’s carelessness, and her Lover rushing to perish alongside her represent sins that they must die for as punishment. If we assume that everyone in the world carries similar sins within them, then the Worms which consume us must then be considered heroes for cleansing us from existence.
If you’re a Edgar Allen Poe fan, Richard Corben fan, horror fan, or all three; I recommend checking out Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Conqueror Worm” by Richard Corben for yourself. And if you have any other insights on the poem or “The Fall of the House of Usher”, share them in the comments.