Edgar Allan Poe in popular culture
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Edgar Allan Poe has appeared in popular culture as a character in books, comics, film, and other media. Besides his works, the legend of Poe himself has fascinated people for generations. His appearances in popular culture often envision him as a sort of "mad genius" or "tormented artist," exploiting his personal struggles. Many depictions of Poe interweave with his works, in part due to Poe's frequent use of first-person narrators, suggesting an assumption that Poe and his characters are identical.
This article focuses specifically on the historical Edgar Allan Poe making appearances in fiction, television, and film.
- "The Baltimore Mystery", a Phantom comic detailing a fictional explanation of Poe's death, and the Phantom's role in his last days.
- Batman: Nevermore (2003) is an Elseworlds mini-series from DC Comics written by Len Wein, with art by Guy Davis. In the story Batman teams up with Poe to solve a number of murders.
- In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe (2002) by Jonathon Scott Fuqua follows a professor who has discovered the last diary of Poe, allegedly written on the author's deathbed. The diary reveals that Poe's artistic inspiration came from selling his soul to demons. As part of the deal, Poe can only write while in Baltimore; his attempts to leave that city have dire consequences. The graphic novel from Vertigo Comics is illustrated using digital illustrations and photography by Steven Park and Stephen John Phillips, respectively.
- The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo (sic) by Dwight MacPherson, is a webcomic originally published on DrunkDuck, which was collected into a trade paperback by ShadowLine. It follows Poe's adventures after he accidentally gets flushed down an outhouse.
- In the Italian comic book Zagor, Poe is an agent of the American secret service called "Elsewhere", with a codename "Raven".
- Jill Thompson's graphic novel Death: At Death's Door includes Poe as a guest in Death's house as Lucifer evicts the citizens of Hell. He is shown, comically, to be in love with Death's sister Despair, who serves as his muse in the book.
- "Revenant", a short story by Walter de la Mare, first published in The Wind Blows Over, 1936, in which Poe listens to a modern lecture on his life and works, then takes the lecturer to task for making facile judgments.
- "When It Was Moonlight", a short story by Manly Wade Wellman which appeared in the February 1940 issue of Unknown, has Poe pausing in the composition of "The Premature Burial" to investigate a genuine local case, only to find himself faced with a vampire.
- "The Exiles" (September 1949) is a short story by Ray Bradbury, included in his collection of short stories, The Illustrated Man (1951), in which Poe is an entity who lives in a refuge on Mars. He is erased from time when his last work is destroyed on Earth.
- "The Gentleman From Paris", a short story by John Dickson Carr, first published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (April 1950), features an unidentified Poe, sitting in a bar in New York, solving a Dupin–like mystery for the title character. Poe disappears before he can receive a substantial reward six months before his death.
- "Richmond, Late September, 1849", a short story by Fritz Leiber, first published in Fantastic, February 1969, in which Poe meets a woman claiming to be the sister of Charles Baudelaire but who may in fact be Death. Poe died October 7, 1849, in Baltimore.
- "The Man Who Collected Poe" by Robert Bloch in which a fanatical Poe collector proves to have resurrected (collected) the real Poe and has him locked in his back room writing new Poe-esque stories. It was filmed as an episode of the film Torture Garden, which Bloch wrote.
- A Singular Conspiracy (1974) by Barry Perowne; A fictional treatment of the unaccounted period from January to May 1844, in which Poe, under an assumed name, visits Paris in a failed effort to join French volunteer soldiers headed to aid Poland against Russia, instead meeting the young Charles Baudelaire and designing a conspiracy to expose Baudelaire's stepfather to blackmail, to free up Baudelaire's captive patrimony.
- The Last Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe: The Troy Dossier (1978) is a novel by Manny Meyers which features Poe aiding the New York City police department in 1846 to solve a pair of murders.
- "In the Sunken Museum", a short story by Gregory Frost, first published in The Twilight Zone Magazine, May 1981. An account of Poe's famous last days and his enigmatic last utterance.
- "The Cabinet of Edgar Allan Poe" (1982) by Angela Carter, a short story first published in Interzone, and later collected in Black Venus, traces, with dark humour, the origins of many of the themes in Poe's later fiction to his very early years living with his theatrical mother.
- "Time and Chance", a 1987 short story by Eric M. Heideman appearing in L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Volume III, features Poe, now Edgar Allan, in a counterfactual reality in which his gambling paid off, in conversation with Ambrose Bierce.
- "No Spot of Ground", a 1989 short story by Walter Jon Williams, features Poe, having survived his harrowing experience in Baltimore, leading Southern troops during the American Civil War. This is not as odd as it seems at first, since Poe did have West Point experience (though brief), and both sides were desperate for men with that kind of background. In the Battle of Gettysburg segment, Poe replaces General James L. Kemper in Pickett's Charge. Like Kemper, Poe is wounded, but unlike Kemper fights on with Robert E. Lee until near the end of the war.
- The Man Who Was Poe (1989), a juvenile novel by Avi, features a young boy named Edmund befriending C. Auguste Dupin, who is actually Poe himself. Edmund and "Dupin" solve several mysteries in Providence, Rhode Island.
- The Hollow Earth (1990), a novel by Rudy Rucker in which Poe explores the inhabited center of the world
- The Black Throne (1990), a science fiction novel by Roger Zelazny and Fred Saberhagen features Poe as one of the main characters alongside a parallel world alter ego, master sergeant Edgar Perry (Poe's alias when he was in the Army). The novel quotes Poe's poems and uses them as inspiration for the plot; one scene is similar to "The Pit and the Pendulum."
- Route 666 (1993), a satirical cyberpunk novel in the Dark Future series by Kim Newman (writing as Jack Yeovil), features a ramshackle Eddy Poe channeling Cthulhu.
- In a separate work by Kim Newman, The Bloody Red Baron, the second volume of his alternate history Anno Dracula series, Poe plays a major role. In the novel, he is a vampire tasked to ghost write the autobiography of flying ace Manfred von Richthofen in the midst of World War I. In the sequel book taking place in 1959, Dracula Cha Cha Cha, Eddy Poe is mentioned as the screenwriter behind an upcoming film.
- The Lighthouse at the End of the World by Stephen Marlowe (1995) concentrates on Poe's last week alive and has C. Auguste Dupin trying to solve his disappearance
- Nevermore (1995) by William Hjortsberg, features Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle solving a series of murders, which eerily re-enact the stories of Poe.
- The Murder of Edgar Allan Poe (1997) by George Egon Hatvary, features Poe's fictional detective C. Auguste Dupin befriending the author and subsequently investigating his mysterious death.
- Nevermore (1999), The Hum Bug (2001), The Mask of Red Death (2004), and The Tell-Tale Corpse (2006) novels by Harold Schechter. Nevermore depicts an intelligent, crime-solving Poe teamed up with the adventurous man of action, Davy Crockett.
- Lenore: The Last Narrative of Edgar Allan Poe (2002) is a novel by Frank Lovelock that fictionalizes Poe's final days before his death. The story is presented as a delirious dream Poe has while in the hospital. C. August Dupin makes an appearance along with Lenore, depicted as a woman in love with a runaway slave named Reynolds. Lovelock weaves Poe's own letters and works into the story; direct quotes are acknowledged in bold, italicized text with notes on their origins.
- The American Boy (2003) by Andrew Taylor an historical mystery story featuring Poe as a schoolboy in England.
- Edgar Allan Poe's San Francisco: Terror Tales of the City (2005) by Joseph Covino Jr, a derivative psychological gothic horror suspense thriller perfectly faithful to the style and tradition of Edgar Allan Poe set in contemporary San Francisco.
- The Poe Shadow (2006) by Matthew Pearl, a novel which revisits the strange events surrounding Poe's death.
- A fictionalized younger Poe was a main character in Louis Bayard's The Pale Blue Eye, published in May 2006. Poe investigates a mysterious death during his time at West Point. Bayard emphasizes the young Poe's drinking habits.
- Poe plays an indirect part in the Supernatural spin-off novel Supernatural: Nevermore, in which protagonists Dean and Sam Winchester investigate a series of murders in New York based on Poe's stories; Sam deduces that the killer is attempting a resurrection ritual to bring Poe back to life to learn the truth about his death.
- The Blackest Bird (2007) by Joel Rose featured Poe as a main character. The novel correctly follows some of Poe's history in writing and in his personal life.
- A young Edgar Allan Poe, alongside Gullivar Jones, is the main protagonist of the novel Edgar Allan Poe on Mars (2007) by Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier.
- The Joyce Carol Oates book Wild Nights! (2008) tells fictionalized versions of the last nights of Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Henry James and Ernest Hemingway.
- Edgar Allan Poe is first mistaken for a vampire and then befriended by Abraham Lincoln in Seth Grahame-Smith's novel Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2010).
- The ghost of Edgar Allan Poe is often referred to in Robert Rankin's The Brentford Trilogy books. In The Brentford Triangle, he is summoned to Earth by local postman Small Dave, but he becomes angered by Dave's attempt to control him and by his misinterpretation of C. Auguste Dupin.
- Finding Poe (2012) by Leigh M. Lane is a fictionalized account of Poe's final days, speculating the role his unfinished work "The Light-House" may have played in his mysterious death.
- Nevermore by Brent Monahan (WTF Books, 2012) imagines Allan Pinkerton investigating Poe's death.
- Edgar Allan Poe, a 1909 silent film directed by D. W. Griffith.
- The Raven (1915), is a fictionalized biography of Poe (played by Henry B. Walthall). The 57-minute silent film depicts Poe's falling out with the Allan family, his love of his wife Virginia, and a few hallucinations caused by wine, one of which seems to inspire his poem "The Raven." Poe is also depicted as owning a "negro" (as named in the film), despite being in dire poverty.
- In The Raven (1935), the uncredited narrator of the "Spirit of Poe" ballet is clearly made up to resemble Poe.
- The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe (1942); Poe is played by John Shepherd (later known as Shepperd Strudwick).
- The Man with a Cloak (1951), a film in which a hard drinking Poe (Joseph Cotten) masquerades as Dupin in 1848 New York - and helps a young French girl secure her inheritance.
- The Tell-Tale Heart (1960) depicts Poe dreaming the story. Poe is played by Laurence Payne.
- Castle of Blood (1964) horror film directed by Antonio Margheriti; Poe is played by Silvano Tranquilli.
- Torture Garden (1967) horror film directed by Freddie Francis; Poe is played by Hedger Wallace.
- Gas-s-s-s (1971) had Edgar Allan Poe riding a motorcycle.
- Nella stretta morsa del ragno (1971) horror film directed by Antonio Margheriti; Poe is played by Klaus Kinski.
- The Spectre of Edgar Allan Poe (1974); Poe is portrayed by Robert Walker Jr.
- Tale of a Vampire (1992) horror film directed by Shimako Sato; Kenneth Cranham plays "Edgar", Suzanna Hamilton is Virginia and her reincarnation Anne, and Julian Sands is Alex, the vampire who completes the triangle.
- Monkeybone (2001), saw Edgar Allan Poe IV return as his namesake again.
- The 2003 film Descendant features two distant relations of Poe, and an appearance of the ghost of Poe himself.
- The independent film The Death of Poe (2006) focuses on the author's last days. Poe is portrayed as being forgetful, possibly as a result of an illness, and becomes a victim of cooping.
- Twixt (2011) a horror film directed by Francis Ford Coppola features Ben Chaplin as Edgar Allan Poe.
- In the fictional comedy film, Lives and Deaths of the Poets (2011) Poe is portrayed by actor, Greg Coale.
- The Raven (2012) stars John Cusack as Poe, in a story about the last days of Poe's life in which he tries to track down a serial killer whose murders parallel deaths in Poe's stories.
- The Death of Edgar Allan Poe is a play by playwright P. Shane Mitchell
- In early 2007, NYC composer Phill Greenland and book writer/actor Ethan Angelica announced a new Poe stage musical titled Edgar, which uses only Poe's prose and letters as text, and Poe's poems as lyrics.
- Actor John Astin, who performed as Gomez in The Addams Family television series, is an ardent admirer of Poe, whom he resembles, and in recent years has starred in a one-man play based on Poe's life and works, Edgar Allan Poe: Once Upon a Midnight.
- In the mid-1990s, The Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival in association with Nationsbank, presented Edgar - The Life of Edgar Allan Poe by Jack Yuken at five south Florida venues. Kevin Crawford was Poe. R.A. Smith and Heidi Harris co-starred. Kermit Christman directed.
- Fall of the House, a play by Robert Ford, premiered April 9, 2010 at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. The play features vignettes from the last week of Poe's life and from the last days of his mother's life, both of which intersect with a modern day plotline.
- The 2008 Japanese/Australian Rock Musical Once Upon a Midnight takes its title from the beginning of the Raven.
- In 2005, a reading of the Broadway-bound musical Poe was announced, with a book by David Kogeas and music and lyrics by David Lenchus, featuring Deven May as Edgar Allan Poe. Plans for a full production have not been announced.
- Another Poe impersonator is Baltimore-native David Keltz, notable for often starring in the annual Poe birthday celebration at Westminster Hall and Burying Ground every January.
- Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe, a musical written, composed, and directed by Jonathan Christenson. It was originally produced at the Catalyst Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta and went on to be performed at theatre festivals and theatres across Canada, and to the Barbican Theater in London, and the New Victory Theatre in NYC. In January 2015, the show returned to New York in an Off-Broadway production at New World Stages.
- Norman George performed as Poe in an original one-man play, Poe Alone. George has played the title roles in A&E Network's Biography: The Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe, and other educational films and television and radio documentaries in the United States and Canada.
Audio Theater/Radio Theater
The 2011 audio play "The Poe Toaster Not Cometh," by Washington Audio Theater, explains the mysterious death of Edgar Allan Poe by depicting Poe as a vampire who comes to life in modern times and engages in a killing spree in Baltimore. The play seeks to explain the Poe Toaster mystery by suggesting the Poe Toaster is in fact a contemporary of Poe's, surviving through the centuries via occult means.
- Dickens of London (1976), a television miniseries featured Seymour Matthews as Poe.
- Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (1999), where Poe is played by actor "Edgar Allan Poe IV" in the episode "Episode LXXXI: The Phantom Menace." Edgar Allan Poe IV claims he is the great-great-great-grandnephew of Edgar Allan Poe.
- An episode of the Cartoon Network series Time Squad, about time travelers tasked with setting right errors in history, featured an uncharacteristically happy E.A.Poe, more concerned with happy rainbows and pink bunnies, than matters of the Macabre. History was returned to normal by introducing this erroneous Poe to a morose state of misery and depression, finally appreciating the horrors and misery of the world around him.
- In the episode "Escape to the House of Mummies Part II" (2006) of The Venture Bros., Brock Samson, Hank, and Dean, team up with Edgar Allan Poe, as well as Caligula, Brock Samson (past), and Sigmund Freud.
- The 2007 Masters of Horror episode "The Black Cat" wove elements of Poe's life in with the story of the same name. Poe was played by Jeffrey Combs, a horror movie veteran who has worked closely on a number of Stuart Gordon's (the director) previous projects.
- The 2013 South Park episode "Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers" used Poe as a central character to bring the plot forward.
- In the second season of Witches of East End, portrayed by Daniel DiTomasso, Poe is seen in the episode "Poe Way Out" (2014) in a relationship with a former self of one of the main characters, Freya.
Poe's work has had extensive influence on culture:
- Neimeyer, Mark. "Poe and Popular Culture," collected in The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe. Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-521-79727-6 p. 209
- Gargano, James W. "The Question of Poe's Narrators," collected in Poe: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Robert Regan. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1967. p. 165
- Review of Batman: Nevermore issue #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5
- DC's profile for the hardcover edition of In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe (with preview) and the paperback one
- The Chemistry Set » SURREAL ADVENTURES OF EDGAR ALLEN POO, Chapter 1, Canto 1
- Dwight MacPherson on The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo, Newsarama, July 10, 2007
- Reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits, ed. Mike Ashley, Carroll and Graf, New York, 1993, p. 431–454
- The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe at the Internet Movie Database
- The Spectre of Edgar Allan Poe at the Internet Movie Database
- Tale of a Vampire at the Internet Movie Database
- Edgar: A New Chamber Musical
- Edgar Allan Poe: Once Upon a Midnight, starring John Astin
- "Edgar Allan Poe Tribute," Boston Globe, Oct 26, 2003, p.7.
- "He's A Poe Pretender Evermore: Norman George Makes Career Of Playing Writer," Orlando Sentinel reprint of New York Times article, January 22, 1989. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1989-01-22/news/8901220232_1_poe-edgar-allan-norman-george
- Washington Audio Theater, The Poe Toaster Not Cometh, 2011, http://washingtonaudiotheater.com/the_poe_toaster_not_cometh_audio_download
- Dickens of London at the Internet Movie Database
- Washington Post. January 21, 2000
- Jeffrey Combs, Star of "The Black Cat", UGO
- Edgar Allan Poe, the character at the Internet Movie Database
- Matthew Pearl's Top 10 Books Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe The Guardian, May 23, 2006