Archive | 12:00 am

The Saturday Comics in The Rue Morgue

14 Jan

January 14, 2012

No, Edgar Allan Poe did not write newspaper comic strips, though if he did I bet this might be one of them.

Let me say right upfront that I love Poe. His short stories, his poems, if  you need me to introduce you to Edgar Allan Poe then what’s wrong with you? The Raven? The Tell-Tale Heart? Annabelle Lee?

And Murders in the Rue Morgue.

This is the story that is generally credited with creating the modern consulting detective. Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, even the Hardy boys owe their existence to this tale.

The story surrounds the baffling double murder of Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter in the Rue Morgue, a fictional street in Paris. Newspaper accounts of the murder reveal that the mother’s throat is so badly cut that her head is barely attached and the daughter, after being strangled, has been stuffed into the chimney. The murder occurs in an inaccessible room on the fourth floor locked from the inside. Neighbors who hear the murder give contradictory accounts, each claiming they hear the murderer speaking a different language. The speech was unclear, they say, and they admit to not knowing the language they are claiming to have heard.

Sounds great, right? It is, at least for a while, until the murderer turns out to be an escaped gorilla. Yes, an ape. Technically, an orangutan that jumped from a cargo ship.

I’d have warned you about spoilers upfront but let’s  be real, this story is 171 years old and is part of half the high school curriculums in the free world. This is hardly a spoiler. Not my fault if you never read it.

But yes, an ape. I fully understand that when this story was written apes had not yet become the cheesy B-movie clichés they are today but that doesn’t stop me from groaning every time I read that story. A really great locked room murder story and the killer is an ape? Sorry Edgar, you lose my respect with that one.

Which brings me back to The Saturday Comics.

“Wings and Winnie Winchester Help Capture Gorilla.” Allow me to put on my Mr. Grammar hat and complain that it isn’t “a” gorilla, it isn’t “the” gorilla, it is simply “help capture gorilla.” Is this such a famous ape the he is known as Gorilla? Is that his stage name? According to the headline his name is King, and that’s not original at all.

Anyway, not only does that gorilla look more scared of them than they are of him (which is not at all) but it only takes a trio of strangely unwrinkled policemen and a flimsy net to catch the ape. However, the ape seems to weigh no more than a couple of pounds, so maybe it really wasn’t such a big deal to catch him.

While the circus seems to be no great shakes, I’d have bugged my Mom to get me pair of those skates. What if there was an escaped gorilla in my neighborhood?

Sheesh, gorillas get no respect.

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