Words: Snyder, Scott and King, Stephen
Pictures: Alberquerque, Raphael
Vertigo Comics, 2010
Look, I’m not coming late to this vampire craze, I promise. As we’ve already established, I like my vamps covered in blood and ripping out throats, rather than dry-humping their teenage girlfriends to the dulcet strains of some emo band – or as Mr. King so evocatively tells us in his introduction:
“What should they be? Killers, honey. Stone killers who never get enough of that tasty Type-A. Bad boys and girls. Hunters. In other words; Midnight America. Red, white and blue, accent on the red.”
And boy, if the throat-ripping vampire is your scene, you could do worse than Skinner Sweet, the dark star of the American Vampire comic book series.
I know I’m gushing here, but honestly, this comic is just luminous. The writing is brilliant, the artwork glorious. Because the story traces Skinner Sweet across several decades of his existence – from his creation as a vampire in the 1920’s, in point of fact – careful attention has obviously been paid to the costuming of the characters and even their manner of speaking. It’s just very freakin’ cool.
I know that you shouldn’t judge a story when you’re only part of the way through it, but for this I’ll break my own rule. As a stand-alone story, Bad Blood, the Skinner Sweet origin story, works particularly well, but like many comic books which are built specifically for the drip-fed format, as you move through the volumes, it becomes more daunting to simply ‘pick up and play’. Which is not to say you can’t do it, but I’d be loath to suggest such a thing when the beginning is so good and adds so much to your understanding of the comic. Read the rest of this entry
Oooh, ooh, remember how I was telling you about this, cublings? Ooh, ooh, January! It’s coming out in January! Not that I’m ridiculously excited about finding out more about Danny Torrence’s world, but I do love a review (or anything, in fact) which uses the term “psychic vampires”.
Thank you to The Book Haven for allowing a reblog on this.
The “King” of spooky stuff. Rock star of the book world. Ridiculously overrated. Pathetic endings. A true genius. Slaughtered horror at the altar of fantasy.
In his long and celebrated career, Stephen King had had all kind of feedbacks. He is one of those authors who have radical fans and haters. You either worship him or you are an active member of I-hate-Stephen-King.com. So, from which camp are you exactly? Ah, a SK devotee? Cool, you are in for some pleasant surprise. Remember The Shining? It was King’s fourth novel and one of his most popular books. A classic published in 1977, it was made into a movie starring Jack Nicholson. King has announced that the sequel to The Shining, titled Dr. Sleep, will be out in January next year.
The shinning delineates the story of a family that moves to Overlook Hotel in Colorado. The hotel, however, has a…
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Hodder and Stoughton, 1991
ISBN: 0 450 57458 X
Hey cublings – after quite the hiatus, I’m back to the blogging, and badderer than ever. Suffice to say, I thought I’d start gentle and then work my way up (or down, as the case may be) to the other stuff that I’ve been reading over the past… oooh. That long, huh?
Needful Things is a weird one. It’s part of Steven King’s Castle Rock oevre, that famously infamous township in Maine which is an amalgam of Rockwellian imagery, Orwellian politicing, and Lovecraftian beasties lurking just below the surface. In true King style, most of the beasties are lurking in human form, but Needful Things has a few notable exceptions to this rule.
Being part of the Castle Rock group there are certain recurrances that pop up – actually that’s not even just true of the Castle Rock novels, but of King’s work in general. I’d like to think that I’ve read enough of his stuff by now (a fact that this blog will attest to) to see the seams on the monster suit. Alan Pangbourne is referenced in other places, and also references in his turn, events in Cujo and in The Dark Half as well. Alan Pangborne is such a godamn likeable character, its always one of those moments which makes the teeny writer inside of me shrivel up and die a little bit inside, just marvelling at the creation. But I digress – it’s not just Alan who is showing up like a bad penny; Leland Gaunt has more than a passing resemblance to that bad-guy-to-beat-all-bad-guys Randall Flagg from The Stand and Eyes of the Dragon, and ol’ Buster Keaton also resembles “Big” Jim Rennie from Under the Dome. Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head, as well – there have got to be more out there.
Brian Rusk is the first character who sets foot in the new store in town, Needful Things (“Funny name for a store” one of the characters remarks – suspicious name for a store, says I); he’s a young lad with a slight speech impediment, a little-kid crush on his speech therapy teacher, and an avid collector of baseball cards. Baseball is one of those things that keeps cropping up in King’s work, much like the little towns in Maine. He’s written a whole book on baseball – I haven’t read it, given that I have little understanding and less interest in the sport, but I hear it’s pretty good.
Hodder and Staughton, 1983
ISBN: 0450 056740
Welcome to 2012, cublings! Hopefully you are all recovered from any time spent with relations over Christmas and New Year (or any other holiday you might have had forced upon you), and your new years resolutions are listed on your fridge getting frantically ignored. I thought that I’d kick off the book club this year by writing about one of my old favourites, Christine, by Stephen King.
I know that my taste runs to the schlocky end of the spectrum. I’ve embraced that. So, it stands to reason that I should like this book. I mean, you can tell from the first lines on the blurby bit on the back of this book that it’s going to be a treat for the low brow, it goes something like ‘Christine was burrowing into his brain, his subconcience…’ Brilliant, right? I mean, it sounds like the by-line to a Hammer horror or something about brain-parasites or body snatchers. Maybe it’s somehow significant that it is dedicated to George Romero, the director of many brilliant (and Godawful) horror films, not the least the movie Creepshow. Before you ask, no, I’ve never seen the film version of Christine, I’m a bit loathe to, but as usual, willing to take a well placed hint if anyone out there thinks it’s a bit special (or a bit septic, I’m open to either option – having watched The Pillow Book recently, I need something that will blot some of the amount of times I have now seen Ewan McGregor’s…er…zones… out of my head.)
Big thank you’s to Hayley Merrick for the factoid that Mr. Stephen King is set to release a sequel to The Shining. You can hear Stephen read a chapter from the book, which is titled Doctor Sleep, in the video below. It sounds pretty interesting – this is the first time that he’s revisited a book so long after it was originally published, and I’m glad that he’s getting back to Danny Torrence’s story. Poor kid.
Anyway, that’s enough distraction – watch the vid, he’s a great reader, you don’t even need to watch, just listen. It’s glorious. I should really get back to my assignment (procrastination, thy name is Blog).
BCA (by arrangement with Hodder and Stoughton), 1992
There is a certain talent to setting yourself limits. Stephen King is probably most well-known for his epic stuff – The Stand, the Dark Tower cycle, and other books where there is lots going on, either in lots of different places or with lots of different people. Gerald’s Game is the opposite. There are really only two characters who are fleshed out to any great degree (not counting the dog), and only one real setting. There are remembered characters and settings, but none of these occur concurrently with the events of the novel.
The story begins with Gerald and Jessie Burlingame gettin’ frisky at their holiday home at the lake. Given that I read Bag of Bones probably about two months before I started reading Gerald’s Game, that there was a little deja vu-ish for my taste. Granted, you read enough of any author, you start to see the zipper in the back of the costume, so to speak. Anyway, specifically the form that their friskiness takes is some mid-range bondage – up from scarves, down from pretzelling yourself into fancy knots; so, handcuffs, which Gerald has obtained from a courtroom associate. Jessie’s not wildly keen about them, but will take any sex with Gerald that she can get. So far, so rote. Unfortunately for Jessie, her day gets worse when Gerald has a massive heart attack, and has the ill grace to perish on the bedroom floor with her still handcuffed to the bedposts. That’s really as much as I can tell you (it’s nothing that you couldn’t get off the front flap anyway – albeit, minus the sarcasm) without giving the rest of the story away, so if you think you might read this book, stop now, ’cause after this, here be spoilers.
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Ladies and Gentlemen, roll right up for the first of the Versus Battles! Tonight, an all-time heavyweight of the American literary circuit, Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination dukes it out with the welterweight champion of the best-seller lists, Nightmares and Dreamscapes by your friend and mine, Mr. Stephen King!
Note: This is kind of my cheap way of getting two books done for the price of one. I kind of think it might be interesting to do a little compare and contrast with authors from different periods who go in for the same kind of things – subject matter, style, etcetera. And yes, I do know that it’s very unlikely that you’d ever see a heavyweight box a welterweight, and think that it’s probably even against every boxing rule known to man, but let me see how far I can take this reference, okay? Good. On with the show!
Poe’s volume (at least, the edition that I have, which is the Galley Press edition of 1987, part of the “Golden Heritage Classics series”) stands at 28 stories, 446 pages of maybe 8-point serif font. I have to guess that much, because there’s no handy ‘this edition published in 8-point such-and-thus font. So this is turning into a bit of a bare-knuckle anything goes kind of fight anyway, what with the weight estimations and all, but again, lets see how long we can string this along, eh, cublings? The ISBN for this edition is 0861366522.
King’s book, which is the BCA edition, published in 1993, stands at 23 tales, and runs to 569 pages (I’m subtracting the intro and the author’s note at the end, although those things are always worth reading in King’s books, as much for the jocular style as anything else). The ISBN… it doesn’t have one. Which is probably because it’s a reprint… if any of you cublings knows more than Mama Wolf, send me a comment… it’s got a CN number, but that’s Library of Congress cataloguing… isn’t it? Hmn. Come on, cublings, help a sister out… Read the rest of this entry