King’s Dark Tower at Marvel
The comics internet has been buzzing with speculation these last few days regarding Stephen King writing for Marvel. The buzz was bang on the money as it turned out; Marvel and the master of horror have signed a deal to produce a series based not on his horror work but his best-selling fantasy work, the Dark Tower series, beginning in April 2006, with a hardback graphic novel collection of the first six issues slated for release later in the year (the Marvel press release has the enigmatic date ‘holiday’ pencilled in, but I’m not sure what holiday this refers to: July 4th? Joe Quesada’s summer holiday perhaps?). According to the Marvel release:
“The comic series will mark the first time Stephen King has produced original content for an ongoing comic book project. The series will expand the saga of King’s epic hero, Roland Deschain, whose quest to save the Dark Tower is captured in seven best-selling novels published over the course of twenty-five years. King’s unparalleled storytelling power will inform new stories that delve into the life and times of the young Roland, revealing the trials and conflicts that lead to the burden of destiny he must assume as a man, the last Gunslinger from a world that has moved on. The comics will work in conjunction with the novels, further supplementing and defining the saga’s mythology under the direction of the acclaimed author himself.”
Although based on King’s vast Dark Tower series, Marvel’s release indicates that the comics will be a new, original story arc, set in the existing Dark Tower world and with existing characters such as Roland. Jae lee, the Eisner winning artist, has been confirmed as providing the brushwork for the series, much to King’s delight as he is a big fan.
“As a lifelong fan of Marvel comic books, and as an adult reader who’s seen comics “come of age” and take their rightful place in the world of fantasy and science fiction, I’m excited to be a part of Roland’s new incarnation,” said Stephen King.
I have to confess I never really got into this series – I found the first books to be (in my opinion) rather generic and tedious and certainly pale compared to some other cutting edge fantasy writers, at which point I stopped following it (a shame as I generally like King’s earlier work) . I’m in a minority however – the books have not only sold millions world-wide but also earned King a number of critical plaudits and some serious literary awards. Even one member of the Edinburgh SF Book Group can’t get enough of this now gargantuan series and I’m told by those who read it that the later books just keep getting better and better, so perhaps this comic may be an accessible point of entry to this huge and popular series for those of us who haven’t read all of them.
King joins an ever-growing roster of novelists (not to mention screenwriters) who have turned to comics. Next summer Marvel also has Neil Gaiman working on Jack Kirby’s Eternals (woohoo) while Orson Scott Card and Richard Morgan have also been writing their own unique takes on Marvel characters such as Iron Man and Black Widow respectively. Of course, this is not entirely new – the great and revered Harlan Ellison (we’re not worthy!) was collaborating with comics creators many moons ago, from the Avengers to Dream Corridor.