Category Archives: dark tower
We’re on the threshold of a new year.
I say nuts to that. Personally, 2011 was an awful year. I’m glad to stick a fork in this one come Sunday, and I think you should too, especially knowing what good stuff is on the horizon.
To pick you up before 2011 go-goes, here are five reasons 2012 is going to be a great year:
Biff Bam Pop Exclusive Interview: Andy Burns Talks Stephen King’s The Dark Tower with Robin Furth, Part Two
Biff Bam Pop Exclusive Interview: Andy Burns Talks Stephen King’s The Dark Tower With Robin Furth, Part One
The scariest Stephen King story I’ve ever read – The Boogeyman from Night Shift. I was 10 years old, home with the chicken pox. The illness was bad, but the nightmares made it worse.
My favourite film based on a Stephen King story – The Shining, hands down. You can read why here. I recently sat at a table with the great author Chris Claremont and debated the films merits. We agreed to disagree.
However, when it comes to my favourite Stephen King story of them all, there really is no competition. It’s The Dark Tower, the epic seven book series that tells the tale of Roland Deschain, the last Gunslinger in Mid-World as he endeavours to find the tower at the centre of all reality. I read all seven books back in the winter of 2010, every week day as I commuted to my then day job, 1.5 hours each way. Truthfully, it was the best way to immerse myself in the series. The hard part was when characters I grew attached to started dying towards the end of the series. Nobody likes getting their tears in their eyes in public.
As Stephen King’s assistant and author of the essential The Dark Tower: A Concordance, few know The Dark Tower better than Robin Furth. Her unparalleled familiarity with Mid-World made her the perfect choice to help guide The Dark Tower when Marvel Comics began publishing its King-approved series in 2007, the first 30 issues of which are now compiled in the massive Dark Tower Omnibus (which also includes a separate Companion book full of lots of Furth-penned pieces).
I was able to chat via email with Ms. Furth about all things related to her work on the brilliant comic book series, along with how she first entered Mid-World (and Stephen King’s world) a decade ago. For a huge fan of the Dark Tower series, I’m pretty sure you can imagine how excited for the opportunity. I hope you enjoy it as much I did.
The Dark Tower: Treachery #1, #2
Creators: Peter David, Robin Furth, Jae Lee, Richard Isanove, Stephen King
The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.
Barring the cadences of Seamus Heaney, TS Eliot, and Dr Seuss, I believe this is the only opening line I have ever remembered from a book. I’m staring at most of my books now, and while I recall plots, characters, beauties, horrors, and, in some cases, entire excerpts, The Dark Tower remains the only story whose opening line I remember with absolute clarity.
Story is apt; novel or book aren’t adequate. The core books (The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Wastelands, Wizard and Glass, Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, and The Dark Tower) are all one continuous tale; there are also at least three other King books with strong plot points connecting them to the story; lastly, there are over a dozen other King books connected in some way (from The Stand to From a Buick 8). Robin Furth has also written a concordance of the story. So that brings the count to twenty-odd titles about or related to Roland, the gunslinging hero, and his obsession with the fulcrum of reality, the Dark Tower.
Then Marvel got involved.
Treachery is the third installment in the quasi-chronological (time, like direction, life, skin, blood, and thought, is mutable) adaptation of The Dark Tower. The first book, The Gunslinger: Born, was the best-selling graphic novel of 2007. The second, The Long Road Home, has just been released will undoubtedly sell similar numbers. In short, they’re the stories King hints at throughout The Dark Tower – the stories of Roland as a young man in Gilead. Readers of the core books will recognize most elements in The Gunslinger: Born – they’re taken directly from The Gunslinger and Wizard and Glass. The Long Road Home and Treachery cover different territories. They’re largely from the minds of Robin Furth and Peter David (with approval from King). King gave us glimpses into Roland’s past – Maerlyn’s Grapefruit, Gilead, Mejis, Farson, Jericho Hill – but here they’re given life, texture, and words.
For the most part, this works very well. I’ve been gripped by the battles, physical and metaphysical landscapes, and the humour (yes, even in tragedies you can find a laugh). Its drawbacks are minimal, but they’re an unfortunate constant in expanding mythologies or fictional universes. Authors will introduce elements, usually characters, that are inexplicable in later stories. Case and point: in Treachery #2, we’re introduced to Aileen Ritter, niece to Cort, the gunslingers’ trainer (never mind that she was described in a sell-line at the end of Treachery #1 as his daughter). Certain latitudes are fine, but whole major characters are problematic, especially in complex, intertwined narratives like this one. I remain open-minded given the good writing and stunning artwork, but alienation is always possible.
The artwork deserves special attention. Jae Lee is a god amongst pencillers. He transfers all the elements of The Dark Tower to paper – Gothic sensibilities, spaghetti westerns, diseased post-apocalyptic landscapes, horrifying monsters, dream worlds, and robots. Coupled with Isanove’s brilliant digital colour work, these comics are worth owning for the art alone. I’ve claimed I could never look past bad writing, despite brilliant art, and while that’s generally true, I might (might) make an exception if these two were on the team. Thankfully David and Furth are both strong, capable, and decent writers who stay very true to the source material and captured it very well.
Treachery is tainted by inevitability, but the journey is a curious, entertaining, and beautiful one.