Samstag, 12. September 2015

The Scholastic Edgar Allan Poe Editions: Peddling Morbidity and Insanity to the kiddies for over Six Decades



The Scholastic Edgar Allan Poe Editions: Peddling Morbidity and Insanity to the kiddies for over Six Decades



I've never been able to decide if it was an act of inspired genius or just plain simple economics that were responsible for the material selected by Scholastic books for their grade school customers.

It might just have been that reprinted material was much cheaper than actually having to pay for new material.

What ever their reasons were, ten of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of school children benefited from this decision.

Think about it, if you were a young reader what would you prefer? The Hunger Games and Harry Potter?
Two series tailored towards younger readers.

Or writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, H. G. Wells, Saki and Edgar Allan Poe?
Writers who didn't water down their material in deference to younger sensibilities?

All I know is that, waaaaay back at the very beginning of the 1970s, I couldn't get enough of Scholastic's brand of children's horror.

Imagine all those 9 and 10 year olds who tried to wrap their minds around Mr. Poe's deliciously dark tales of murder, death and insanity. I became aware of the Vincent Price/Roger Corman/AIP Poe adaptations after I turned 10. That was when I was allowed by my parents to stay up on Friday nights and watch "Chiller Theater" on WBNS Channel 10 out of Columbus.

Those films spurred me into tracking down Poe's stories. Luckily the Scholastic Book Club was more than happy to feed my horror Jones.

I was daunted at first by the density of the language used by Mr. Poe, but then he wasn't writing for the kiddies. You have to wonder what his reaction would have been upon discovering that he would one day be reduced to the level of "kid-lit". It would have probably killed him quicker than the booze and damp did.

What I do deeply appreciate though is that I quickly moved on from the "I can Read" books to writers such as Poe, Wells and Verne. So I grew up accepting their style and language as "normal". This made other writers such as Lovecraft, James (Henry AND M.R.), Blackwood and Jackson a cinch to read since all of these folks were at one time staples in "children's horror".

Poe was just the thing to liven up those playground conversations. Retelling Hop-Frog , The Black Cat, The Tell Tale Heart, or even The Murders in the Rue Morgue.  Nothing focused the kids' attention like telling them about a dwarf who burns his tormentors alive or a man who takes an axe to his wife and walls her up with the family cat.

And the Irv Docktor illustrations were the icing on the cake.

I'd bet a month's pay that parents and teachers today would freak out completely if they discovered that a publisher was pushing this kind of material off on pre-pubescent children.

Well screw them.

THANK YOU SCHOLASTIC for making my childhood all them much weirder and for turning me into a strong reader.














My copy of the March 1966 9th Printing.
The cover and interior illustrations are by Irv Docktor.


The 9th edition back cover.


Contents:


April 1968 10th Edition 
Cover and interior illustrations by Irv Docktor


The 10th Edition back cover





My copy of the April 1972 13th Edition.
The cover is uncredited just as the Irv Docktor interior illustrations are.

The 13th edition back cover






Kommentare:

  1. Enjoyed your new entry. The link to Irv Doktor memorial site was a good addition to this one. Thanks for both...

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  2. Glad you enjoyed it Rick!

    Mr. Doktor never received th credit he deserved.

    Especially when you notice how much of his art that you recognize.

    AntwortenLöschen
  3. Glad you enjoyed it Rick!

    Mr. Doktor never received th credit he deserved.

    Especially when you notice how much of his art that you recognize.

    AntwortenLöschen