Genre: Manga/Short Story/Horror
This was an absolutely fantastic release for October, 2017. Not only was it released during the fun, spooky month of the year, but I personally was teaching “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Raven” to my 8th grade class, both of which are artfully illustrated in this Manga Classics Edition.
I am a huge advocate of using manga and graphic novels in the classroom because I believe that they make complex texts more accessible for below grade level readers as well as English learners, which is important when aiming to keep an entire class on the same level of comprehension and understanding, starting with each individual student’s reading and learning level.
This Manga Classics edition is somewhat unique in that it is their first edition that is short stories rather than a novel (although The Jungle Book Manga Classics Edition did have some of the other short works of Kipling). This volume contains “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Raven,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher,” all of which are drawn by a different artist. At the end of most of the short stories is a page of interesting facts about the manuscript, the publishing history, and Poe as it relates to each specific story, such as the fact that Poe was paid $10 for his manuscript of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” nearly $300 in the 2017 economy.
Each story is unique and cryptically drawn, adding a whole new context to each story, which can be good, but also not so good. For example, reading the manga version of “The Tell-Tale Heart” after reading the short story was very different; the meaning, to me, was changed based on the way the story is depicted in the manga. Where in the short story it is unclear and debatable whether or not the narrator is insane or intentionally a murderer, the manga depicts from the beginning that the narrator is telling the story to someone resembling a psychiatrist from the beginning, which would make sense in that the narrator addresses “you” often, and yet we the reader do not know who the “you” is. Either way, the manga version, as all Manga Classics editions do, use the actual text from the original literature, although it might be moved around to justify pacing in manga, or may be shortened, it is still legitimate text written by the author, meaning students can cite thorough textual evidence even from the manga version of the story.
If you do choose to pick this manga up, I would highly suggest reading the short stories first and making your own inferences and speculations about the text before seeing a visual representation, because that could change the way a reader understands the text. It was also fun to read the story first and develop my own imagery in my head and compare that image to that of the manga.
Out of all the manga classics, this one is definitely one of my favorites (and I have them all), within the top three. I would suggest this for English teachers and English learners alike when studying Poe, or anyone who is a manga lover; yes, read this book!