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'Dark Tower' looms in graphic form

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Отправлено: 20 Декабрь 2006 - 13:20:59


'Dark Tower' looms in graphic form
By David Colton, USA TODAY

Can Stephen King soar higher than Spider-Man?
That's what Marvel Comics is hoping as it unveils on Feb. 7 the long-awaited comic-book adaptation of King's seven-novel epic The Dark Tower. It's the first time the mega-selling author has cooperated in such an extensive graphic retelling of his work.

Given the size of King's audience, the seven-issue The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born "has the potential of being the biggest project in the comics industry within the past 20 years," says Dan Buckley, Marvel's president and publisher.

The Dark Tower novels were written between 1982 and 2004 and imagine a nightmare landscape of wizards and six-guns, as if Clint Eastwood were sent to tame Middle-earth. The comics will open with the untold origin of Roland Deschain, that world's last Gunslinger.

What persuaded King, 59, to take the leap into comic-book fantasy? "The time was right because the right people appeared," King says in an e-mail interview. "And since there will probably never be a Dark Tower/Gunslinger movie, this is the next closest thing. And it's a hauntingly pretty thing, as it turns out."

The series was delayed for a year to give King more time to devote to the project. But fans may be disappointed to see he is not the sole author; there's also well-known comics pro Peter David and Dark Tower expert Robin Furth. The art is by Jae Lee, whose delicate linework has illustrated Marvel's Sub-Mariner and Inhumans.

"I had a lot of involvement in casting the course of the narrative," King says. "Beyond that, I wanted to give a lot of control over to these other imaginations, which I had come to respect. The first few issues, I should add, are almost entirely drawn from the books. Readers will recognize them and hopefully be as thrilled as I am.

"Do I absolutely love everything? Nope. It's a collaboration. But I absolutely love a lot, and in an imperfect world, that's just about Nirvana."

Marvel expects to print "hundreds of thousands" of the first issue (48 pages, $3.99), which easily would make it a top-selling comic of the new year.

"We do expect to attract non-traditional comic readers," Buckley says. A hardcover collection of all seven issues will be available next fall.

For someone whose work has translated so readily to film and TV, King has done surprisingly little in comics. But he's a longtime fan.

"Childhood faves?" he asks. "That's easy. Plastic Man. Little Lulu. Uncle Scrooge (Donald never interested me in the slightest). Classic Comics. And of course the EC horror comics. The four-color world … has always had a strong influence on my work, particularly Salem's Lot and The Stand."

And the eternal choice: Batman or Superman?

"Batman forever, of course," King replies. "Supes was too darned perfect."

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