I've been meaning to get my hands on this graphic novel since a college friend recommended it years ago. While one's honeymoon maybe isn't the best tiI've been meaning to get my hands on this graphic novel since a college friend recommended it years ago. While one's honeymoon maybe isn't the best time to be sucked back into the powerful and poignant memories of a fondly recalled first love, the touching narration and rich illustrations that comprise Thompson's childhood and bittersweet taste of new romance made for a visceral reading experience that was brimming over with a sense of belonging and kinship.
I read this in two sittings because I was so overwhelmed with a sense of empathy that I had to put some distance between me and the tale Thompson had woven. Everything from his Wisconsin origins, awkward sibling relationship, conflicting regard for Christianity and Christians (and the realization that the two have alarmingly different messages), remarkably intense first taste of what it is to be in so in love that it hurts, and stumbling, turbulent childhood and adolescent moments struck the chords of familiar terrain with me. I haven't felt so emotionally connected to a character before, and it made for one of the most cathartic reads ever.
Coming-of-age tales run the risk of cliche and sentimentality, but the emotions and milestones brought to life in the graphic novel format (coupled with Thompson's obvious capabilities as a storyteller) were so raw, so genuine and so very unflinching that I felt more like I was sneaking a peek at someone's diary than reading a mass-distributed book in its ninth publication.
It is a heavy read (quite literally, too -- the book weighs in at 500+ pages) if you're unusually in touch with the exposed nerve of the past, but it's well worth the emotional ride....more
**spoiler alert** I have been waiting to revisit Roland and his kin since I closed the final installment of Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series las**spoiler alert** I have been waiting to revisit Roland and his kin since I closed the final installment of Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series last year. I have not admired and loved a fictional character as much as Roland Deschain since encountering Howard Roark ("The Fountainhead") in the early half of high school; I have yet to encounter a protagonist who was able to move me and become as alive as Roland. I've had a wicked hankering for King's Gunslinger since we parted ways.
I can't imagine ever wanting to bid Roland adieu for good, so it's dorkishly comforting to know his is a character who allows for new avenues of exploration: "Everything's Eventual," "The Gunslinger Born" and "The Long Road Home." Since I've missed my old friend from Gilead -- and because "The Gunslinger Born" offers so much pre-"Dark Tower" back story while relating back to "Wizard and Glass," which was one of my favourite novels from the series -- I decided it was finally time to pick up the first DT graphic novel.
Okay. With that (probably needless) preface out of the way.... oh man, I'm glad I finally made my way to this graphic novel for myriad reasons. The walk down memory lane and being romanced by the familiar High Speech were the least of the treats contained within. And the innumerable instances of "Ohhhh, I remember THAT!" should have been hard acts to follow. Way to effortlessly clear the bar of expectation, Sai Graphic Novel.
The story follows the flashback that's the crux of "Wizard and Glass," which is great for someone who's at least that far into the series -- though anyone else should steer clear of the graphic novels for fear of spoilers and generally not knowing how all of this works into the seven-book series (though there's enough explanation and self-contained story for "Gunslinger Born" to work well enough as a standalone work -- but I think it's infinitely more fulfilling as a supplemental read). Actually seeing a young Roland in the "present" AND his original ka-tet (not to mention the selected residents of Gilead and Hambry to which the readers are exposed) is just too good to miss. Sure, Roland's flashbacks and memories are great resources, but it's such a delight seeing them through the eyes of a truly omniscient narrator instead of Roland's third-person point of view.
The reaffirmation of Roland's character is interesting. We know he grows up to be a fierce, determined, calculating but thoroughly human gunslinger; we also know that his deliberate and insightful nature more than makes up for his intellectual struggle to match wits with his peers. Actually seeing his battle with Cort, his devotion to his father (and being faced with the intensity of their parent/child relationship absolutely struck a chord of empathy in me), his love for Susan, his brotherly affections for Alain and Cuthbert.... it just made him all the more human, which lent an unexpected element of sadness to the Roland in King's novels. Reliving how he became the gunslinger who followed the fleeing man in black across the desert added so much to the humanity and admirable sense of responsibility he already embodied. And knowing how this part of the tale ends didn't make it any less heartbreaking. I think I cried just as earnestly through the last pages of this as I did in W&G.
The illustrations themselves are, as someone who is far from a connoisseur of comics, nothing like I've ever seen before. And dazzling. The use of colour, shadow, facial expressions and implication is as stunning as the art itself. And, as violent as the story is and as true to such things as this novel stands, some of the more graphic art is almost too gory to look at. But it's simply too impressive to ignore. And seeing the illustrated representations of so many places I'd spent nearly a year reading about provided a lot of "Oh, so THAT'S what King was talking about!" Yep, this reimagining of "The Dark Tower" definitely made for a pleasantly familiar experience.
I also enjoyed the explanations after each installment. Revisiting the history of so many crucial plot elements (Gan, the beams, Maerlyn's Rainbow, the Old Ones, the line of Eld, the guns, the poisoning of Mid-World, the three boxes, the multiverses....) was a strange sort of homecoming. The New York Comic Con interview with King & Co. and all the other little asides made this so much more than a graphic prequel: It made it a joy for any DT fan who just can't get enough of Roland and his ka.
This really was a great bit of storytelling, as well as a visually and emotionally mesmerising way of looking at an old favourite in a new light. I enjoyed being able to see this part of the story for myself, even if watching it unfold through Roland's memory did it just fine the first time around. Thankee-sai....more
It's been so long that I've spent time with Roland and his first ka-tet that I started reading "Treachery" without realizing that I never journeyed thIt's been so long that I've spent time with Roland and his first ka-tet that I started reading "Treachery" without realizing that I never journeyed through the rough terrain of the series's preceding installment. I'm so glad (I mean, as glad as one can be, given the difficult path Roland, Alain, Cuthbert and even poor Sheemie face) that I went back to get lost in this part of the story.
I have such a hard time saying goodbye to Roland and his second ka-tet whenever I take on the daunting (but more than worthwhile) trek through King's seven-book series that I tend to ration these graphic novels the way a starving man would obsessively measure out a dwindling supply of food. I just don't want the story to end, you know? In that respect, it's a great, nerdy comfort to have the ongoing graphic-novel reimaginings/adaptations of King's magnum opus within reach.
The goings on depicted in the illustrated stories are either alluded to or seen as flashbacks in King's original novels. As someone who just doesn't want to let the story and its protagonist go, getting to explore new avenues of The Tower's storyline is an absolute treat. This specific installment had me tearing up (mostly because of my fondness for Sheemie) while considering how awful the ka-tet's long road home was for the two not trapped in Maerlyn's Grapefruit. Getting to consider Alain and Cuthbert's points of view is the one thing that King's novels don't really get a chance to do (not that those books weren't busy carrying a host of other perspectives or anything).
This was such a satisfying return to the path of The Tower. As dark and emotionally taxing as the original story and its companion graphic novels tend to be, they're a treat every time I make the visit....more
Like "The Stand" graphic novels, I figure I'll run out of original ways to express why I'm enjoying The Tower's graphic-novel treatment. There are enoLike "The Stand" graphic novels, I figure I'll run out of original ways to express why I'm enjoying The Tower's graphic-novel treatment. There are enough nods to the original material for them to feel like a welcome return to an old favorite; the new details add a different element to a story I know well and love even more. The latter also keeps these illustrated adaptations from being a simple rehash of characters and plot points I already know.
The addition of Aileen turned out to be far more appealing than I originally anticipated. And she gets all kinds of kudos for offering the constant reader a fleeting glimpse of Cort's previously unexposed tender side....more
My husband and I bought this on a whim after chatting with a Borders employee who earnestly lauded this series. And I'm really glad we trusted his praMy husband and I bought this on a whim after chatting with a Borders employee who earnestly lauded this series. And I'm really glad we trusted his praise, as this was a disturbingly entertaining and engaging yarn.
It's a unique, multi-faceted story told in graphic (and I mean GRAPHIC, you guys) detail; while I'm not one for gore, the illustrations are spellbinding and execute the storyteller's basic rule of thumb -- show, don't tell -- perfectly. The trio of main characters are deeply flawed and, therefore, accessibly human (and that includes the Irish vampire, who now has the added benefit of being a breath of fresh air in a world where vampire lore has been debased with sparkles), even when committing acts that make a decent person's conscience cringe.
While the conflict between heaven and hell is a familiar formulka, this story's elements go far beyond that: angels are at war among their own factions, there's an angel-demon lovespawn on the loose, God is missing, murder victims' body parts are in the mail, a fallen preacher comes into possession of a power beyond all things earthly, and the standard sexual tension is thrown in to keep everything tied together. There's a lot going on, and it all collides into a screaming climax that could only be pulled off this well in the graphic-novel medium.
My only regret is that we only bought the first of this nine-book saga, as this story sucked me in before I even finished the forward. This is the kind of reading that's not for the faint of heart, as it takes the reader on one hell of a spin....more
I have to preface this a little in the hopes that it does some justice to just how (and why) I was so excited to discover that one of my all-time favoI have to preface this a little in the hopes that it does some justice to just how (and why) I was so excited to discover that one of my all-time favorite books was to be retooled as a graphic novel. It's been such a thrill to see "The Dark Tower" -- my other favorite King-wrought literary experience -- get the graphic-novel treatment (even though it's a completely different approach) that I just couldn't anticipate anything less than a thoroughly impressive illustrated translation of "The Stand."
You have to understand that "The Stand" is That Book for me. It's That Book I used to read when I didn't know what I wanted to read but knew I wanted to get lost in a good story with characters I knew well. It's That Book by which I measured all subsequently devoured novels for a long, long time after I first read it. It's That Book I've read so many times I can recite entire stretches of dialogue, recall dozens of word-for-word descriptions and have some of King's most gruesome scenes permanently burned into my brain.
So it's a good thing that the first book in the graphic-novel re-imagining of "The Stand" delivers. Oh, does it ever deliver. It holds true to so many of the book's descriptions, lines, characters and goings on; what it chooses to omit from the story seems to be done so for pacing and for the sake of keeping the story in motion. The art is just so perfect for the mood of the plot -- and, of course, it's stunning in its detail, talent and ability to match exactly how I saw so much of the story for so long.
But -- and this is the most important part, of course -- the depictions of the characters get extra props since the creative minds chose to deviate from the miniseries' depiction of the players: Frannie looks nothing like Molly Ringwald, Nick looks nothing like Rob Lowe and Gen. Starkey looks nothing like Ed Harris (though no one wonders if they should point out his mispronunciation of "Yeats,"but I guess that's what you lose when narration is largely replaced with art). I will say, however, that I am a little more than bummed that Stu looks nothing like Gary Sinise, which, I think, might actually be my biggest problem with this venture thus far.
Other than that, color me pleased. I can't see my resolve to wait before picking up the second installation lasting for too long at all....more
I don't know what's going on, but the universe thinks it's necessary that my two favorite books, Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth" and Stephen KingI don't know what's going on, but the universe thinks it's necessary that my two favorite books, Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth" and Stephen King's "The Stand," find new life in different media. And I'm really digging that the two clearly-done-for-my-benefit projects are happening simultaneously.
After watching the first installment of "Pillars" and having my preordered-for-months copy of "Soul Survivors" finally land on my doorstep this week, I figured it was time to crack open "American Nightmares." And, Jesus Christ, I'm glad I came to that decision in the daylight because some of the illustrations (like Larry and Rita's jaunt through the Lincoln Tunnel, which is just as awful in pictures as it was with only King's description to go by) are just... well, graphic. But brilliant. And painstakingly detailed.
Most of what I said in my review for "Captain Tripps" is probably going to be applicable to every book in this series. Which isn't a bad thing: It just means that I don't have anything new to add. I'm still smitten with this new presentation of a novel I love to bits.
But, God, when they set out to make the readers fall in love with Frannie at first sight, they really, really nailed it. She was never my favorite character in either the original story or its own bout with the miniseries treatment, but there is just something irresistible about her as a character in a graphic novel....more
Reading this series has exposed two truths: I'm a little fuzzy on Roland's backstory as it's presented in the seven books aaaaaaand the time has probaReading this series has exposed two truths: I'm a little fuzzy on Roland's backstory as it's presented in the seven books aaaaaaand the time has probably come to revisit the actual Tower series.
As for the graphic novels themselves, fleshing out characters primarily seen in "Wizard and Glass" is something I'm enjoying greatly. Liking so many of the supporting characters while knowing that Roland is the only one leaving Gilead alive adds an appropriate sense of sadness to the story....more
Something about this installment, more so than its two predecessors, had me a little choked up at several points. I blame the heartrending elements thSomething about this installment, more so than its two predecessors, had me a little choked up at several points. I blame the heartrending elements that the illustrations add because I haven't been this affected by the story since the first time I watched the miniseries.
I continue to be amazed by the graphic-novel adaptations of a book I know well and love even more. And I continue to thank Gan that the serialization of one of my favorite novels seems to be spearheaded by people who have damn-near religious regards for the story's smallest details. ...more
If only the narrative weren't so jarringly self-aware (and I only take issue with it because it did tend to keep me from being completely immersed inIf only the narrative weren't so jarringly self-aware (and I only take issue with it because it did tend to keep me from being completely immersed in the story), this would have been perfect. ...more