Category Archives: dark tower
As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. As many of you may also know, I’m the author of the book Wrapped In Plastic: Twin Peaks (ECW Press, 2015). Previously, I never would have imagined that there would be any connection between two of my greatest loves, but following last night’s conclusion of Twin Peaks: The Return, I can’t help but think about how both series confounded expectations of their followers.
Read along with me, but be advised, there will be massive spoilers for both The Dark Tower and Twin Peaks: The Return.
Last night on Showtime brought the resolution of the 18-episode limited event series, Twin Peaks: The Return. As co-written by show creators Mark Frost and David Lynch, and directed solely by Lynch himself, the series was essentially about the return of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) to the town he first visited some 25 years ago when he was tasked with investigating the murder of high school student Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee).
I’m not going to get into deep analysis off the series as a whole (you can wait for the follow-up to my book), but it’s worth nothing that the real story for this remarkable piece of art Lynch and Frost created is ostensibly that of Cooper’s return to Twin Peaks, and a final confrontation with his evil doppelgänger that has roamed free for decades while Cooper himself has been trapped in the series’ supernatural meeting house, The Black Lodge. And in episode 17, that’s what Lynch and Frost deliver – moments that fans have dreamt of for 25 years themselves. Cooper, clad in his black suit and craving his cup of coffee, back in the town, surrounded by familiar faces and some new ones. The evil doppelgänger vanquished, seemingly for good. This was fan service at its finest, and for many, shutting things down with this conclusion probably would have been just fine. Read the rest of this entry
Will an adaptation of a cult favourite series from one of the most popular writers on the planet be able to stave off fan skepticism and critical blows to debut at the top of the box office? Here’s our prediction:
Let’s just get this out of the way: I loved The Dark Tower books. I’m a massive Stephen King fan. I am predisposed to enjoy the film that arrives in theaters this weekend, regardless of its quality. But, realistically, this is a hard road for The Dark Tower, based on the scathing reviews its receiving and a fan base that feels let down by many of the decisions that surrounded bringing Roland and the Man in Black to life. There was so much working against this film prior to the horrible reviews, and it appears so many fears are actually being realized. Regardless of how good or bad the performances from stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey are, neither actor can open a film, let alone one that was supposed to be the beginnings of a brand new franchise. While there are die-hard fans of The Dark Tower who will venture out this weekend to see the film, reviews be damned, the crossover appeal is going to be limited, and unless there’s a severe difference between critical and audience response a la Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Dark Tower is going to underperform below even the initial light projections. Look for a first place debut with $26 million.
To say that reading The Dark Tower changed my life is far from an understatement. It’s a fact. I never read Lord of the Rings. I haven’t gotten into Game of Thrones. No, for me, it’s only been Roland Deschain and his quest to get to the tower that holds all worlds together.
Seven years ago, I was commuting from my home in Toronto to a crappy job about 90 minutes via subway away. What kept me going through the first few months of 2010 was reading The Dark Tower on my little Sony e-reader. While I had picked up the original trade paperback edition of The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger when it was released back in 1988 (and I was just 11 years old), and read subsequent instalments including The Drawing of the Three and The Waste Lands, the wait time between novels had killed my interest in the series, and it lay unfinished. However, in that winter of 2010, I was determined to read the books I’d already started, and finish the series.
We’re just a few short weeks away from the arrival of The Dark Tower in cinemas. I’m a devotee of Stephen King’s magnum opus (I’ll show you the Tower tattooed on my arm sometime), and I’m very much looking forward to the film, which stars Idris Elba as The Gunslinger and Matthew McConaughey as The Man In Black.
Yes, it will be different from the books, and there’s talk that the film has its issues. However, the books will always be there, and I’m sure that, even if it’s far from perfect, I’ll find things I love with this adaptation/sequel.
Here’s the latest trailer, which is a lot of fun. Will you be seeing The Dark Tower when it opens on August 4th?
Biff Bam Pop Exclusive: 5 Questions With Peter David + A Preview Of The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – The Prisoner Issue 2
Legendary comic scribe Peter David is just that – a legend, thanks to defining runs on the Incredible Hulk and X-Factor, to name just two. For the past seven years, he’s been writing the Marvel adaptation of Stephen King’s seminal The Dark Tower series of books, alongside noted Dark Tower authority and King colleague Robin Furth. We had the chance to talk to Robin a few years ago, at the time of the release of the first Dark Tower Omnibus, and now, with we’ve got Peter David, who answered five questions about the series The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – The Prisoner, which tells of the early days of future ka-tet member Eddie Dean. The first issue was absolutely stellar for this Dark Tower devotee, full of familiar characters, great storytelling and easter eggs. So take a taste of what awaits you at the Dixie Pig.
Peter David: I’m reasonably sure it came into being because of me. I was in Jacksonville, Florida, a year and a half ago, recovering from a stroke, and Steve was kind enough to come visit me. He drove five hours to come up and spend an hour and a half at the facility with me. And while he was there, I told him–quite honestly–that fans kept asking when we were going to stop adapting book two. That they were anxious to see Eddie Dean and the others and continue Roland’s adventures. And Steve said, “Really?” And I said “Yeah.” And Steve said, “We should do that, then.” A month later I got a call from my former editor Bill Rosemann and he said, “Guess what? We’re back!” So thank God I had a stroke!
Andy Burns: One aspect of the first issue I really enjoyed was that a newcomer could pick up the issue and be immediately engaged, while Dark Tower devotees get to see familiar places or concepts. How different is the approach to this series from previous Dark Tower comics? Read the rest of this entry
Here at Biff Bam Pop!, we love Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. From interviews with comics creator Robin Furth here and here, to reviews of the comic, to even speculative casting of a Dark Tower film or TV series. Now, here’s a sneak peek at the new comic from Marvel, after the jump.
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.