The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
by Bo Hampton, Washington Irving
(Image, 1993)

Though not a big fan of the contemporary horror genre of ANY medium ("contemporary" being of the bloody "slice- and-dice" variety), one comics project that I recently enjoyed wholeheartedly was Image Comics' The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Adapted and illustrated by huge comics talent Bo Hampton, the project brings all of the terror and chills evoked by the original "long short-story," but with an added element of alarm and dread provided by a realistic sequential art style.

Originally published in 1993, this adaptation will be a welcome and very accurate representation for the reader who doesn't easily recall Washington Irving's original masterpiece of fear (I hadn't read it since junior high school). Hampton, in his desire to preserve the integrity of the story, retained "nearly all the main text and character interactions" (from his introduction). The result is a tale that contains not only horrific ingredients, but successful forays into humor, as well.

Ichabod Crane is an absurd, clownish character, yet still manages to elicit the sympathy of the reader, not just in his flight from the infernal headless horseman, but in his contest for the heart of the young Katrina Van Tassel. Hampton's mastery of his craft lends him the enviable ability to render some of the most emotive characters ever enjoyed in comics, while bringing them all together in a richly-illustrated world that goes from beautiful to unpleasant, and downright monstrous, as needed. He also proves once more what Irving demonstrated with this story initially -- that horror needn't be nauseating or repugnant. We can be scared without being disturbed, thrilled instead of disgusted. Call me a purist, but that's what I call good readin'!

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is recommended for those who enjoy evocative storytelling filled with intensity, emotion and a good ol' fashioned "creepiness" factor. I find it suitable for all but the very youngest of readers.

- Rambles
written by Mark Allen
published 16 April 2005

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