In grade 8, at the request of my thinking-outside-the-box teacher, Ms. Berry, I read my first Stephen King book.
No. That’s not exactly true.
In grade 8, at the request of my thinking-outside-the-box teacher, Ms. Berry, I read my first Richard Bachman book, a supernatural horror story about a fat man literally wasting away to skin and bones due to a gypsy curse – a chiller called <a-hem> Thinner. It was my teacher’s own, personal copy, brought to class for me to borrow. A rule-bending request, to be sure, from an instructor at a Catholic grade school. Thinner wasn’t listed on any of the scholastic book order forms anywhere. I know. I looked.
I <a-hem> ate through Thinner furiously and asked Ms. Berry for seconds. I got The Running Man next and then, if I remember correctly, a book called Firestarter by someone named Stephen King.
No. No, thank you. Another Bachman book, please!
But these two writers were the same guy – Bachman a pseudonym for King, who apparently, wanted to write more stories than the King brand could bare. Authors were meant to publish no more than a novel a year! Anything more than that must surely be an exercise in wordsmithing drivel!
Firestarter became Cujo. Cujo became Christine and Grade 8, a year of senior optimism before turning to minor-niner anxiety, was indeed a danse macabre for me. And I loved every bit of it.
That love of Stephen King didn’t stop there. I discovered that he was indeed a prolific writer and I read him often in my high school and university years, my admiration for his storytelling craft and dedication to his art constantly growing. I watched him at the movie theatres, too, as tale after tale made the jump from printed word to silver screen and his work and influence was read and felt in countless comic books as well. King became one of the foremost populist writers of fiction, let alone horror fiction!
I’m betting that many of us have had similar experiences with the writer, be they with Stephen King or Richard Bachman. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that we here at Biff Bam Pop! are big fans of the man and we can’t think of any better way of sharing that enthusiasm with you than writing tributes to his various works of inspiration this second week of October, a week we’re titling plainly but affectionately: “Stephen King Week”.
October (though you couldn’t tell from the beautiful Toronto weather the past few days) can be a frightening month. There’s a distinct lack of sunlight and a drop in temperature. There’s a misty fog the rises on cool evenings and a dampness that sticks to the skin. And, of course, at the end of the month, there’s that pagan Halloween-thing wherein we dress up as unnatural entities in an effort to ward off evil spirits. Really, it’s a perfect time to give you the goods on the King stories, movies, television shows, comic books and characters that have either scared, horrified or terrified us.
The cupboard has never been bare in King’s oeuvre of scary tales and his telling has never been as thin as that once-fat-character in a book I read in grade 8. Thank you, Ms. Berry.
We here at Biff Bam Pop! hope you enjoy reading our tributes this “Stephen King Week” as much as we enjoy sharing them with you.
Join us on the floor, then. Let’s all have a danse macabre together!