Literary highlights of Comic-Con

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By now most everyone has packed up and left San Diego in the wake of Comic-Con, which wrapped up its four-day run Sunday. The conference is a gigantic celebration of comics, movies and fan culture; this year, there were a few particularly bookish highlights.

John Cusack talked about playing Edgar Allan Poe in ‘The Raven.’ The 2012 film, named after the author’s famous poem, focuses on the mysterious last days of Poe’s life -- he died at age 40 in 1849 in Baltimore, possibly from overindulgence in alcohol. ‘I saw some of Hunter S. Thompson in Poe -- his unflinching ability to delve into the abyss and come back. He reminded me of Hunter in that way,’ Cusack said at his panel, where he called the author ‘the godfather of Goth.’ Hero Complex reports that to amp up the story of the writer’s final days, the filmmakers have thrown in a serial killer plot. Oh, Hollywood.


Poe was seen elsewhere at the convention, specifically, on the faces of the audience at the preview of Francis Ford Coppola’s movie ‘Twixt.’ The film is an original script by Coppola, and is about a horror writer (played by Val Kilmer, who also attended) whose career is in decline and who begins having dreams of orphan girls and a certain long-dead author. The movie is partially -- only partially -- in 3-D, and the Poe masks served as 3-D glasses. Coppola told Hero Complex:

[W]e were in Constantinople and I was meeting with a Turkish lawyer whose sister shows up at dinner and they start giving me this beverage called raki, which is very alcoholic, and I went home to my hotel, fell asleep and had this vivid dream. It was all this Edgar Allan Poe imagery and the scary forest and this little girl with braces saying, “You’re looking at my teeth! You’re looking at my teeth!” and children coming out of a grave in the floor, and then Edgar Allan Poe shows up and I was saying, “This is a gift. I’m being given a story” and I said to Poe, “Guide me.”

If that’s not enough Poe for you, stay tuned for a possible Poe television show. In January, ABC picked up a pilot for ‘a crime procedural’ that stars Poe, ‘the world’s very first detective, as he uses unconventional methods to investigate dark mysteries in 1840s Boston.’ Right.

But back to Comic-Con. For the first time the top prize at the Eisner Awards ended in a tie. Both ‘Wilson’ by Daniel Clowes and ‘Return of the Dapper Men’ by Jim McCann and Janet Lee were awarded the Best Graphic Album-New prize, the top graphic novel award at the Eisners. Other winners included writer Joe Hill for his work on ‘Locke and Key’; Hill is the son of novelist Stephen King.

Another first: Steven Spielberg made his first ever Comic-Con appearance, with his adaptation of Hergé’s classic comic series, ‘The Adventures of Tintin.’ The well-loved series launched in 1929 and has been published in 80 languages. Before Spielberg began showing footage from his motion-capture film, he asked, ‘How many here have ever read a Tintin book?’ and recieved a cheer in response, Hero Complex reports. ‘That makes my job easier,’ Spielberg said.

Another literary adaptation discussed at Comic-Con was ‘Paradise Lost,’ an adaptation of John Milton’s epic poem. Star Bradley Cooper, who read the classic work as an undergrad at Georgetown University, appeared on a panel where he talked about taking on the role of Lucifer. Cooper’s take: It’s an ‘intimate family story’ and he’ll be giving the devil his own sympathetic spin.



Happy birthday, Edgar Allan Poe

Print and fold your own Edgar Allan Poe

Bradley Cooper may play the devil in ‘Paradise Lost’

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photos, from top: John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe on the set of ‘The Raven’ in Budapest in 2010; Poe masks at Comic-Con. Credits: Bea Kallos / European Pressphoto Agency; Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times