EDGAR ALLEN POE'S SNIFTER OF BLOOD, ISSUE #5
Writers: Paul Cornell/Kek-W
Illustrators: Greg Scott/Alberto Ponticelli
Publisher: AHOY Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A comedic horror anthology comic where the characters of Edgar Allen Poe and Sherlock Holmes relate a teeth-chattering mystery, and a seafaring Poe satire receives an updated retelling. It's one part fright and one part mystery boiling in a stew spiced with strong notes of levity.
Imagine a "Treehouse of Horror" anthology episodes of The Simpsons dumped into the wackiness of MAD Magazine.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
In "The Adventure of Three Narrators," character Edgar Allen Poe narrates a "Berenice" retelling, featuring recurring Snifter character, Sherlock Holmes. As Poe eventually lends his narration to Sherlock, and Sherlock and Watson investigate a case about a man whose lover has been murdered, the POVs begin switching. The mystery of a toothless woman and who's really telling the story gets dicey.
Poe's short story, "MS. Found in a Bottle" is reimagined and retitled as "Ms. Found in a Bottle." An ostentatious group of (mainly male, save one woman) literary circle members become perplexed when they discover a Thumbelina-sized woman named Ms. Torchy Seaborn trapped in a bottle. In this reimagining, Ms. Seaborn herself both is the contents of the MS. (manuscript) and has a pertinent message to give those vulgar dunderheads.
Everything is not what it seems in Edgar Allen Poe's Snifter of Blood #5. Can you solve the mysteries before our not-so-sober characters?
In "A Tale of Three Narrators," writer Paul Cornell masterfully handles alternating narration viewpoints. Each swapping POV sounds distinct from one another, retaining the humorous tone while differently colored dialogue boxes visually aid the transition between narrators Poe, Sherlock Holmes, and a monomaniac protagonist.
Greg Scott's art blends realism with a layered, rotoscoped aesthetic. His linework's overt haziness echoes the gothic tone and era while synthesizing with the narrative's eerie mystery plot line.
Colorist Felipe Sobreiro works his artistic magic as he bathes each panel in disquieting Gothic-era colors. His color work is indispensable in Cornell's story, shifting the colors and lighting to visually specify the fluctuating narrators.
Kek-w's "Ms. in a Bottle" cleverly builds upon the satirical seafaring tale tropes present in Poe's source text against the backdrop of added themes like feminism and literary pretentiousness. Kek succeeds in his critical – and highly comedic – evaluation of men and values in the historical time period.
Artist Alberto Ponticelli complements the absurdity of Kek's retelling by rendering the characters with a detailed animation appearance. Background details are not compromised, and his artistic technique and thoughtful compositions elevate the narrative comedy.
Madeline Seely colors Ponticelli's images with bold earth tones. The eye-popping blue and red solid colors used for Ms. Torchy Seaborn's outfit humorously juxtapose her minuscule size.
In both stories, Rob Steen's lettering steers the dialogue away from confusion. Dialogue boxes are bestowed with noticeable outlines when narration changes hands, and Steen's lettering always provides an easy reading experience.
Cornell leans on humor in a story that could easily repulse readers. Monomania (obsessive concentration on a fixed object) is given a sensitively comedic treatment. "Her teeeeeeeth" is a hilarious line that sticks with you.
Whenever Sherlock Holmes shows up in a Snifter issue, you know there's going to be some ridiculously witty dialogue.
The tonally dissonant image design and color contrast between the opulent pink heart surrounding a black-lipped open mouth in "Three Narrators" is a salient point of AHOY's signature, visual gag experimentation – and it works!
Kek's depiction of out-of-date attitudes and vernacular is hysterical; no context needed.
Ponticelli's eye for precision and scrutinized detail gives magnificent scenes like a galleon emerging from the crashing waves realism, sophistication, and a mood of trepidation.
Female empowerment is always appreciated!
AHOY's prose pieces at the end mesh thematically in terms of both tongue-in-cheek satire and catastrophe.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
A case full of bloody, extracted teeth merits a content warning, despite the story's much more humorous angle.
Another content warning is needed because a character gets flipped off. He deserved it, though.
"The Case of the Three Narrators" tries its best to avoid a muddled storyline, but readers could find themselves confused by the narrator switches. A re-read would immensely benefit any reading comprehension the plot didn't resonate the first time.
Unfamiliarity with the original Edgar Allen Poe stories won't impact the reading experience, but not having general knowledge about the source material could make the reading experience much flatter, like you're trying to understand an inside joke you aren't a part of.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
You don't have to be a fan of Edgar Allen Poe or even know about his obscure writings to genuinely enjoy this anthology comic. Although, looking up Poe's "Berenice" and "MS. in a Bottle" source texts only made me more appreciative of Paul and Kek's talents for hilariously adapting Poe's horror stories into the visually-dependent comic medium. Anyone who took high school English is familiar with Poe and his affinity for the macabre. Likewise, anyone who reads the hauntingly illustrated Edgar Allen Poe's Snifter of Blood #5 is sure to develop an affinity for this AHOY Comics title.
Combining Sherlock Holmes with Edgar Allen Poe results in a battle of the egos – and unreliability – that never fails to satiate your need for some Gothic, fourth-wall-breaking depravity. A woman stuck in a bottle is a dreadfully perfect analogy to a woman stuck in a workforce society largely occupied by overbearing men. Edgar Allen Poe's Snifter of Blood #5 offers an irresistible concoction of comedy uplifting women for anyone to bite down on (if they have teeth, of course).
Spotify, play "Message in a Bottle" by The Police.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
I Walk With Monsters by Paul Cornell & Sally Cantirino
Conspiracy Dog by Kek-w & Lukasz Kowalczuk
Edgar Allen Poe's Snifter of Terror #4 by Kek-w, Mark Rahner, Bryce Ingman, & Hunt Emerson
If you like the art:
Edgar Allen Poe's Snifter of Terror - Season 2 #2 by Mark Russell, Tom Peyer, Hunt Emerson, Greg Scott & Peter Snejbjerg
Bronze Age Boogie by Stuart Moore & Alberto Ponticelli
Area 51: The Graphic History of America's Most Secret Military Installation by Dwight Zimmerman & Greg Scott
ABOUT THE CREATORS
"The Adventure of the Three Narrators"
Paul Cornell – Writer
Award Winner: Winner of several awards in different mediums, from film to novels. He wrote Captain Britain and MI: 13 for Marvel, with the third trade winning having been nominated for the 2010 "Best Graphic Story" Hugo Award.
Prolific: Writer of several British Comics for both Marvel and DC, and has written a vast amount of Doctor Who television episodes and fiction.
Outlander: He hails from the UK.
Greg Scott – Illustrator
Prolific: He is a comic book artist who has illustrated for several major comic companies, including Marvel and DC.
He has illustrated many comics like Sword of Dracula, Afterlife with Archie, and Gotham Central, Steve McQueen: Full-Throttle Cool, X-Files, Black Hood, and Area 51.
Greg's art appears in other AHOY titles, including several issues of Edgar Allen Poe's Snifter of Terror and one of the first AHOY comics, High Heaven.
Felipe Sobreiro – Colorist
An artist who previously contributed his talents to AHOY Comics as a colorist on Planet of the Nerds.
Prolific: His art can be found at any major comic book publisher, such as Marvel, DC, Image, IDW, and Dark Horse.
Outlander: He lives in Brasília, Brazil and has been in the comics industry since the mid-2000s.
Rob Steen – Letterer
Dream Team: Rob Steen letters nearly every AHOY Comic title, including previous Edgar Allen Poe Snifter of Terror and Snifter of Blood titles written by Paul Cornell and Kek-w.
Prolific: Has lettered for all major comic book companies like Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, Valiant, to name a few.
He owns a cat and lives in New York with his wife.
"Ms. Found in a Bottle"
Kek-w – Writer
Kek is a brilliant writer, who has penned Deadworld, The Order, Indigo Prime and Black Max for 2000AD and Rebellion. He wrote Cap'n Dinosaur for Image Comics, and has been featured in New Scientist, Wire, Dazed & Confused, Bizarre, and Tattoo. Other credits include his AHOY prose contributions and previous Snifter of Terror stories.
He is the author of the hilarious comedy/science-fiction comic, Conspiracy Dog, illustrated by Lukasz Kowalczuk.
Outlander: Hails from England's Yeovil, Somerset.
Alberto Ponticelli – Illustrator
He is a professional comic book artist who has worked for all major American comic book companies such as DC Comics, Marvel, Image and Aftershock.
Alberto illustrated the AHOY title Bronze Age Boogie, written by Stuart Moore.
Outlander: He was born in Milan, Italy. Originally, he began his comics career by self-publishing comics with a team of friends called Shok Studio.
Madeline Seely – Colorist
Multitalented: She is a multimedia artist and musician, with talents in painting, comic book coloring, and making heavy electronic music.
Earned her BFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Currently resides in New York City, New York and loves experimenting with new vehicles for eating hummus!
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