Monday, December 31, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #24

As I'm writing this, there are fireworks being fired off outside, a couple of apartment buildings over.  I want to tell them, hey, five hours until midnight, but what good would that do?  None.  Doesn't bother me, anyways; I'm enjoying the skittish looks the noises are getting from my cats, who are licking their own buttholes and yawning and whatnot.  Good times.

I've got several weeks' worth of comics stacked up, so let's go ahead and get a look at them; with any luck, I'll finish this post while the year still ends in a "2."




Tops on the list: Locke & Key: Omega #2.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Canon Question: An Ongoing Examination

Let's talk canon.
 
When it comes to literature or the arts, the word "canon" refers to a body of individual works which have been verified -- or commonly accepted -- as the works of a specific author.  In other words, Stephen King's canon consists of all works -- written and otherwise -- which are known to be the direct product of his own craft, either solo or in collaboration with someone else.

If you're talking canon within certain subsets of popular culture, the word often takes on different meanings, especially when applied to a multimedia storytelling franchise that lacks a singular author.  Example: Star Trek.  For the vast majority of people, Star Trek exists primarily as a group of television series and the feature films that have spun off from them.  However, there have also been a near-avalanche of original novels, comic books, semi-official fan films, and the like over the decades, most of which are obscure as far as the mass populace is concerned, but all of which have small subsets of very devoted fans.  With that in mind, in the case of Star Trek, determining what is and isn't canon means deciding, essentially, which stories (and which media) "count" and which do not.

Those are treacherous waters to try and swim through, and if you don't believe me, all you need to do is buy a ticket to a sci-fi convention, find a room where people are talking about Star Trek (or Doctor Who or superhero comics, to name two other examples) and then start asking random people what they do and don't count as canon.  Before long, you'll be having conversations so nerdy that you may never find your way out of them again.

On second thought, maybe you should just take my word for it and skip the cons.  Unless you enjoy that type of thing, in which case, maybe I'll see you there one of these years.
 
 



Star Trek and other multi-media types of storytelling are one thing, but our subject is Stephen King.  And odds are that you've already figured something out for yourself: with the work of a single author, the canon issue becomes vastly less complicated than it is with a franchise property such as Star Trek.

Don't be fooled: there are still grey areas, and there are still questions to be answered before figuring out what does and what does not belong when it comes to the canon of Stephen King.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Review of "Afterlife"

Hey, check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j--hDgtmQIw&feature=share


That, fellow Constant Readers, is the video of Stephen King reading a brand-new short story titled "Afterlife."  King read the story at his recent appearance at the University of Massachusetts Lowell on December 7.  (I tried to embed the video here, but I couldn't get it sized properly -- it kept vanishing off the edge of the post!)



Friday, December 7, 2012

The Whiff of Charlatan: A Review of "The Little Green God of Agony" (web comic)

Greetings, programs!

Today saw the release of the final installment of The Little Green God of Agony, the free web-comic adaptation of the King short story of the same name.  Adapted and drawn by Dennis Calero, whose work in print comics has included Legion of Superheroes, X-Men Noir, and Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom.  I may as well tell you, I'm not familiar with Calero's work outside of the very comic we will be discussing today.
 
Before we dive into that discussion, let me get a few things out of the way first administratively.  First of all, let me note that the comic can be found at this link on StephenKing.com, so if you haven't already done so, please head over there and click the links and give 'em your traffic.

Secondly, let me note that I am going to do something in this review that I have wanted to do many, many times before (with Dark Tower comics and with the adaptation of The Stand, amongst others): I am going to put each page up here and offer page-by-page commentary as we go.  I've never done that before for a simple reason: copyright violation.  I can't imagine Marvel Comics would be too pleased by the idea that somebody could come here and, with a judicious amount of right-clicking, have their very own digital copy of an issue of The Stand.

However, since The Little Green God of Agony was posted online 100% gratis, and since nobody could get anything from this blog post that they wouldn't be able to get at the page I linked to earlier, well ... I don't see the harm.

That said, in the unlikely event someone in camps King or Calero should see this post and feel differently about it, all you need do is contact me and ask me to take the pictures down, and take them down I shall.


"cover" image

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #23

Guess what?







Yep.  
 
You guessed it: 
 
"Bryant Has Issues" is back!

Not sure about the McRib; it might be, for all I know.  You're on your own as far as that goes.  In any case, I have returned to blather nonsense about comic books, and I've got a solid month's worth of issues to work my way through in this post.

I intend to be as brief and non-specific as possible.  We'll see how that works out.

*****

Up first, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez begin the sure-to-be-epic final arc of Locke & Key, "Omega."




Locke & Key has thus far been nothing short of a classic.  Nothing that happens in the final arc is likely to change that; instead, what will be answered by "Omega" is the question of whether the overall series is a mere classic, or an outright masterpiece.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Under the Dome" On CBS: Looks Like a Prison, Might Actually Be a Watershed

Here it is 2012 -- December 2012! -- and do I have a flying car?

I do not.

Do I have a jetpack, or virtual reality, or interstellar exploration?  Not to any meaningful degree, no.  The future, to be blunt, is a bit of a disappointment.

And while we're on the subject of disappointing non-developments, where, pray tell, is that massive renaissance of movies based on Stephen King books?  It's been threatening to break out any moment now, and yet there is still only one -- ONE! -- new King movie that has actually gone before the cameras, despite the approximately 9019 of them that are in development.

Recent developments indicate that that all might be starting to come to an end, though.  There have been major announcements about Under the Dome and Mercy that indicate that those two projects are indeed moving forward, and who knows, maybe they augur that the dam is about to break wide open, and release a flood of King movies and television shows onto our screens.

No word on my flying car yet, though.




So let's talk about Under the Dome for a minute.  It's headed for CBS, and will be running on that network during the summer of 2013.  CBS greenlit the project straight to series, with a thirteen-episode order.  The idea seems to be that if it is successful, it can continue to a second season.

And there is where your worrying probably begins if you are a Stephen King fan.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #22

Fair warning: this is not exactly going to be me at my best.  I got some terrible work-related news earlier this evening, and while it doesn't affect me directly, it's almost certainly going to make for some interesting times on the job in the near future.  You know the ancient Chinese curse relating to interesting times, right?  Well, we seem to be there again.

So if I seem a bit off my game tonight (to the extent I even have game), chalk it up to distractedness.  Or to sucking in general.

Speaking of sucking, let's talk about the new issue of American Vampire, which doesn't.



I'm on the record as having been unimpressed by the wrap-up to Lord of the Nightmares, the recent five-part spinoff miniseries; and so it is with great pleasure that I say the main American Vampire series continues to impress me.  It's one of the best ongoing comics on the market.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Links to a Palaver About "The Wind Through the Keyhole"

Happy Halloween, all!

I just wanted to bring a couple of links to your attention.  I recently took part in a palaver with Bryan McMillan (author of the blog Dog Star Omnibus) about The Wind Through the Keyhole.  It was a lot of fun, some good points were raised, and he was kind enough to corral the whole thing and post it on his blog in glorious two-part format.



There'll be a part the third one of these days, too, but we're going to hold off on having that part of the palaver until he's finished reading his way through the rest of the series.

Go check out the first two parts, though, and have a nose around the rest of his blog, too.  He's been reading his way through the entirety of King's canon, and blogging about it along the way.  Great stuff!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Review of Creepshow III (a.k.a. Creepshow 3)

In July, when I finally finished writing my epic post ranking all the King movies from worst to best, the endeavor was thrown ever-so-slightly out of whack because of the fact that I'd never gotten around to watching Creepshow III.  Here is the excuse I gave for not having seen it:

DISCLAIMER:  I have never actually seen this movie.  So is it fair for me to put it at the absolute bottom of the list?  Well, no.  However, since I've seen every other piece of shit fauxquel and ripoff "based" on King's work, I assume that there can only be one reason why I keep forgetting to watch this one:

Obviously, I am receiving subliminal messages from Captain Tansy Valanjean, a rogue time agent in the year 4976 who has determined that the point in time when everything went wrong (and the events which
brought will bring about The Dark Age 2.0 were set in motion) is inextricably related to my having viewed a film called Creepshow III.  Defying her superior officers and the orders of the Chrono-Court, she has decided to try and save the future.

So, like, that means this has GOT to deserve to be at the bottom of the list.  Seriously, do you think Captain Valanjean would risk her neck with the C.C. if it wasn't important?

Yeah, me neither.

Of course, what she doesn't know is that I'm going to watch it anyways, sooner or later.  Let the future fend for itself; I've got to see it so that I know how bad this movie is.

It's debatable as to whether it ought to be included on the list at all, not because I've never seen it -- other than a rogue time agent from the year 4976, nobody (including me) gives a shit about THAT -- but because it has nothing to do with Stephen King's work, and is therefore not actually a Stephen King movie.  I won't argue that that isn't the case, because it demonstrably is.  So: why include it?

The short answer is this: because I feel like it.  The longer answer is this: because I feel like it, and also because while it might not have anything at all to do with Stephen King's work, it is a legally sanctioned continuation of a film series begun by King.  If nothing else, it -- and the various other similar fauxquels and ripoffs which will fill out most of this list's nether reaches -- will give me something to snark at.
 
And today, I stand before you to make the following declaration: be damned to ye, Captain Tansy Valanjean!  Let the future fall!  Yea, verily: for I now have seeneth the piece of moose feces that is Creepshow III (or, as it is alternatively spelled in the end credits, Creepshow 3)!  Balls to you, Tansy!  Balls, I say!

Joke's on me, though, 'cause in order for this to be the case, I had to actually watch the fucking thing.




And if you think I'm not going to share that misery with you, think again, my friend!  I've just consigned the future to death, so I see no need to spare you.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Stephen King On Blu-ray

Recently, I bit a bullet: I purchased a Blu-ray player.  I'd been saying I wasn't going to do this for a while, on account of the fact that I haven't yet been able to save up enough money to buy myself an HD-capable television.  Nope; still stuck with my 1998 Zenith, which downscales Blu-ray to a glorious 480p.  That's 600p less than 1080!  Six hundred ps missing!

But, I was determined to buy the Bond 50 Blu-ray set while it was cheap as hell, since that would be WAY up on my list of the first purchases I would need to make when I finally do get around to buying that 3D-capable el humungo teevee I will eventually buy.

And so it is that now, my extensive collection of Stephen King DVDs feels just kinda sad and outdated.  They'll all have to be upgraded at some point, of course, and I'm sure I'll complete that process just in time for the next leap forward in technology, whatever that ends up being.  Ah, well; such is the life of a low-income collector.

It got me to thinking: how many King movies are actually available on Blu-ray?  It's a question I don't know how to answer; deprived of HD as I've been, I've mostly opted to not pay attention to what's out there and what isn't.

So: research time!  And I figured, why not pass along the fruits of that labor to you?




Naturally, Carrie -- the King flick that started the whole thing -- is available.  I'm not the biggest fan of this flick, but it would be a travesty if it weren't on Blu.

Friday, October 26, 2012

News from the Kingdom: October 26, 2012

Fresh out of an internet argument about whether Haven is or isn't a lousy television series -- it is -- here I am, bringing you another roundup on happenings in the big old world of Stephen King.

First up:


Stephen King in the library at Sussex Regional High School, 10/19/2012




I had a few cool Stephen King experiences in my high school library.  If I'm not mistaken, that library was what enabled my first readings of Christine and The Bachman Books and Different Seasons, and I can also remember researching old issues of Time and Newsweek and People for articles about King and reviews of his books and movies.

But if at some point, I had walked into my library and found Stephen King standing there, I'd've probably near-'bout shit a brick.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #21

Item the first: has anyone ever named a cat Korben Dallas?  If not, somebody should.  If not a cat, then a beagle.  I give unto you this idea, the world; use it wisely, use it well.

Item the second: I am on vacation, and my agenda over these seven remaining days is to Get Shit Done.  So let's Get some Shit Done right now.




The Man in Black?!?  That don't look like Johnny Cash to me; doesn't look like Will Smith, either.  Hell, doesn't even look like Tommy Lee Jones!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

News from the Kingdom: October 16, 2012

Happy mid-October, boils and ghouls!

Which, yes, is a lame way to start off a blog post, but hey, whattaya want from me?  I spent most of the evening attending a reading by noted sci-fi/fantasy author Andy Duncan, whose work is so good that it makes these pathetic peckings of mine seem even lamer than they would already have seemed.  So I went with the first accursed line that popped to mind.  Give a poor blogger a break, willya?

Anyways, it's been a few weeks since I dashed off one of these columns, and the news has become backlogged, so let's get this convoy a-rollin'.



Most notable, I suppose, is the announcement that King's 2011 short story "The Little Green God of Agony" is being adapted as a web comic.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #20

A quick consultation of my calendar informs me that this column is nearly three weeks overdue, which means that I've got a much larger list of comics to cover this week than would normally have been the case.  Which, in turns, means that this week's column will probably be short(er than normal) on substance.

My excuse is that I'm in total James Bond mode right now, so I've been spending most of my free time making excuses for Moonraker, or trash-talking the score to GoldenEye, or walking around and singing all three-syllable words to the tune of "Goldfinger."  Hey, what can I say?  I'm a nerd.

And, like most nerds, I love me some comic books.  Time once again to prove it by talking about how much I dislike new issues of them!




That'll have to wait a bit, though, because (unsurprisingly) I really liked American Vampire #31.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Movie Review: "Argo" [2012], or: Spammers Are Cordially Invited To Suck A Bag Of Dicks

Dear readers,

You may notice that if you choose to leave a comment, you will now be prompted to complete a word-verification field.  Sorry about that; I'm not a fan of those things, and wanted to not use them here, but spammers seem to have discovered my blog, and I'm getting tired of deleting their comments.  So, I'm gonna let the ole word-verification obstacle trip as many of 'em up as possible.

That's not my primary business today, though.

This is my primary business today:




I know what you're thinking: "Bryant, Stephen King has NOTHING to do with Argo, so why are you wasting my time with a review of it?"


Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Review of the "Carrie: Premiere Cast Recording" Soundtrack CD

The good old United States Postal Service delivered a package to me yesterday.  The contents of that package:
  • one (1) copy of the Bond 50 Blu-ray box set, containing all 22 of the films in the James Bond series, housed inside a nifty box replete with photos; and
  • one (1) copy of the Carrie: Premiere Cast Recording CD, which was released just this week by Ghost Light Records
Now, y'all know me.  You know I'm a big Stephen King fan, and odds are you know that I'm a big Bond fan, too.  It ought, therefore, to be fairly easy to figure out which of those items I was more excited about.  (Hint; it was the one I'm not blogging about right this very second.)

Nevertheless, I'm very happy to finally be able to say that I in some way own Carrie: The Musical.  I'm somewhat familiar with it already; a couple of years ago around this time (i.e., Halloween season), I did a bit of digging on the Internet to see if I could find some bootlegs of the original version of the show, and I had some success with that, at least as far as audio goes.  It's pretty low-quality stuff, though; bootlegs are better than nothing, but when something was recorded by a fan with a tape deck in their pocket, the result is typically going to be a bit less than awesome.

In any case, we now have something considerably better in the form of this official CD release.

What I'm going to do is just put the sucker on, listen to each song, and give you some impressions.  At some point down the road, I'd love to be able to do some sort of in-depth analysis of the differences between the various versions of the show, but that sort of write-up is beyond the scope of my interest at the moment.  Someday; just not this one.



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

News from the Kingdom: September 25, 2012

My day has consisted of the following: a two-and-a-half-hour meeting at work, followed by the consumption (on my part) of a substantial quantity of fried fish and shrimp.  The latter was combined with a not-inconsiderable amount of having to fight off the attentions of my cats.  (I tried to feed them the oysters, but, like me, they can't stand the grimy things, so that was a no-go.)

I mention all of that as a means of suggesting that you happen to notice me being a bit more off my game than seems normal, let's chalk it up to an oncoming fried-seafood coma.  Mmmmm ... delicious unconsciousness ...

Hey, check it out: a segue has presented itself!  Because speaking of sleep, the release date for Doctor Sleep has finally been announced: September 24, 2013.

Here's a not-particularly-accurate representation of that concept:




If you got that joke, then I congratulate you on your nerdery.  Know that here, you are among your kind!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #19

After the colossal suck that was last week's batch of comics, I approached this week's batch somewhat trepidatiously.

And guess what?

This week's batch sucks, too.




This piece a crap here is leading the way.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Collectioning

Rejected alternative titles for this blog post:

"Building My Kingdom"  (ugh)

"I Be Buyin' Shit"  (I kinda like that one)

"New Additions"  (boring)

"What I've Bought Recently"  (terrible)

So, apparently my titling talent just isn't present today.  No matter; we're going forward with "Collectioning," which is stupid, but is also evocative in a curious way.  Or maybe not.  Either way, we're stuck with it now.

And now, a tasteless motivational poster:




Aww...

Anyways, to the point: having recently had one of those lovely months that brings three paychecks instead of the standard two, I found myself with some spending money, and I put most of it to use bulking up my Stephen King and James Bond collections, both of which were feeling a bit as though they had lagged behind.  We won't concern ourselves here with the James Bond collectioning, but I wanted to share some of the King-related items I've picked up.  A plot to make you jealous?  Not intentionally; just an excuse to put a blog post out today.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #18

It's comics time again.  And it was a weak week, so we're gonna polish this one off quick and hope for better times some other day.




I've had it with these lying-ass comic-book covers.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

News from the Kingdom: September 13, 2012

Hoo-whee!  I've got about an hour to write this column; let's see if it's possible to do it that quickly!





Know who that is?  That's Darcy Anderson.  By which I mean it's Joan Allen, who has been signed to play Darcy in the upcoming film adaptation of A Good Marriage.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Review of "Bethany's Sin" [by Robert McCammon]

When I read my way through Robert McCammon's books in the late-eighties/early-nineties high-school period during which I was discovering a love for horror fiction, Bethany's Sin was probably my least favorite of the bunch.  It just didn't grab me, for whatever reason.

I was a bit apprehensive, then, about revisiting it; but I was also curious to see how it would stack up against my memory of it, because there have been a few instances in which I've returned to a novel I disliked in high school, only to find in adulthood that it suited me just fine.  Stephen King's Cujo and The Tommyknockers and Gerald's Game are probably the best examples, but you can also put Fahrenheit 451 and To Kill a Mockingbird and A Separate Peace on that list.

Hey, what can I say; sometimes, younger me got things wrong.  Younger me also thought Diamonds Are Forever was a good movie, so what did he know?

In any case, I thought there might be a chance that I would have a better experience with Bethany's Sin these many years later, and hey, whattaya know: I did.

Sort of.

I mention this up front because I realize before having even written it that a great deal of this review is going to end up being negative, and I don't want to give the impression that I didn't enjoy rereading the novel.  I did enjoy rereading it.  In fact, I read the last half of it practically in one sitting, while staying up late as ... well, late as sin doing laundry one night.  I'd hear the dryer stop and think, "Gosh, I'd better go get those shirts out before they wrinkle," and I'd keep going for a page or two more because I simply didn't want to stop reading.  I only vaguely remembered what happened, and I wanted to bring those dim memories into focus.

My shirts didn't wrinkle, but it was touch and go on every load.

So, yeah; I definitely enjoyed reading the book for the first time in a couple of decades.  Let's all be very clear about that, so that when I start talking about the elements that I don't think work too well, nobody will be confused as to the overall feelings I have about the book.




I should mention, I suppose, that there will most definitely be spoilers in this review.  I'll do my best not to go overboard, but I'm not going to make any promises.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #17

I'm kinda tired, and to tell you the truth, I'm finding it difficult to summon up the enthusiasm to write a comics column.  However, I won't have time for it tomorrow, or Sunday, or Monday, and I don't want to put it off until Tuesday because then it'll be almost time to write another one.

So it's kinda now or never.

Pardon me while I take a moment to try and wake up a bit.








Gosh, you know, that really didn't work as well as I'd hoped.  Oh, well.  There were some pretty good comics this week; maybe those will help me stifle all these yawns.

First up for review:



That's a fairly bad-ass cover, and it houses a fairly bad-ass comic inside it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Few Thoughts on Michael Clarke Duncan

The Green Mile began appearing in bookstores way back in 1996, and like lots of other readers, I snapped each installment up and read it as soon as possible.  It was -- and is -- an utterly entrancing tale, but something about it bothered me in a mild way: it will never, I thought, make a good movie.  My rationale was simple: finding someone to play John Coffey was going to be nearly impossible.  The only actor -- and I use that word in the loosest-possible sense -- I could think of who would be even vaguely qualified for the job would have been Shaquille O'Neal (who had recently starred in a minor hit called Kazaam).  O'Neal couldn't act, though, and surely anybody who played John Coffey would have to be able to act, right?

So a movie version simply seemed unattainable, at least to me.

Ah, but there are people in Hollywood who know way more than I know, and one of the things they knew was that this guy existed:




That, of course, is Michael Clarke Duncan, shown here in a moment from Armageddon.  He didn't have a huge part in that movie, but he made enough of an impression on Bruce Willis that the star (who was being considered for the Paul Edgecombe role) recommended him to Frank Darabont.  And the rest is history.

Armageddon was still two years in the future when I was reading The Green Mile for the first time, and while reading the novel, I could have successfully told you that whoever was eventually cast as John Coffey would need to be big, black, and male, and also that he would need to be able to cry on camera, convincingly portray a simpleton, exude an almost Christlike goodness, AND somehow manage to seem like both a giant and a meek little lamb.  It wouldn't hurt if he was unafraid of mice.  He'd need to be able to play at being terrified, too.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #16

It's Friday, and my gut impulse is to make some sort of Rebecca Black joke, but seriously, how lame would that be?



Smokey knows how lame it would be, don't you, Smokey?  By the way, ask Craig how he got fired on his day off; I bet it was for stealin' boxes to make a fort.  Damn; you should get his ass high...

Anyways, let's let Craig and Smokey do their thing; we'll do ours, and have a look at this week's comic books.  Sound good?




ANY week that brings a new Joe Hill comic is a good week.  This was a good week.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Review of "Batman and Robin Have An Altercation"

Stephen King has really been on a roll lately when it comes to short fiction.  It's debatable as to when you want to say this hot streak began, but I'm going to date it back to 2007.  That year saw four memorable stories from the Master: "Graduation Afternoon," "The Gingerbread Girl," "Ayana," and "Mute."

2008 was only marginally less good: "A Very Tight Place" (a personal favorite), "The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates," and "N." (which made its debut appearance in Just After Sunset and is also a personal fave).  2009: "Ur," "Throttle" (written with Joe Hill), "Morality," and "Premium Harmony," PLUS two excellent poems ("Tommy" and "The Bone Church").

He slacked off a bit in 2010, only producing "Blockade Billy" (and "Fair Extension," if you want to count that as a short story), but was back at it in 2011, churning out five new short tales.  I wrote about them here, in case you're interested.

So far, 2012 has been quite solid, too.  First "In the Tall Grass" with Joe Hill and then "A Face in the Crowd" with Stewart O'Nan, and now a third short story has appeared.




It's in the September issue of Harper's, and is called "Batman and Robin Have an Altercation," and guess what?

I've read it.

And I'm here to tell you this about that: it's not actually about Batman and Robin.  Damn, I'd love for Stephen King to write a Batman story one of these days, but this ain't it.

To ease the pain of that revelation, here is an amusing superhero photo culled from the interwebs:




You done chuckling yet?

Now are you done?

NOW?

Okay, good.

So, if this isn't a Batman story, what the hell is it?

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Review of "Black Ribbons" by Shooter Jennings (co-starring Stephen King)

She reached for the car radio, wanting some nice loud country music (there was another bad habit Scott had taught her in the last few years of his life, one she hadn't yet given up), then glanced over at Darla and saw that Darla had gone to sleep with her head resting against the passenger window.  Not the right time for Shooter Jennings or Big & Rich.  Sighing, Lisey dropped her hand from the radio.  (Lisey's Story, p. 150)

Lisey's Story was released a bit before Halloween in 2006, but Shooter Jennings had been on King's radar for at least a year at that point: Jennings had been mentioned in two of the Pop Of King columns the author wrote for Entertainment Weekly in 2005.  In these columns, King singled out -- pardon the pun -- "Manifesto No. 1" and "4th of July" as being excellent songs the reader should check out.  "This one's a joyous rock-country-gospel hybrid," said King of "Manifesto No. 1," and in a year's-best-singles writeup later in the year he called "4th of July" the "perfect evocation of America's holiday."

How King came to be a participant on Jennings' concept album Black Ribbon years later is apparently a simple story.  Jennings told it in an interview with Oregon Music News:

I reached out through his website and other people and I never heard back from him. I was doing an interview for Entertainment Weekly online I asked them if they could pass along a message to Stephen King. They did and literally three to four hours later I received an email when I was at a grocery store that said, “He’s very busy but if he can find the time he would like to do it.”

And apparently that was all it took.

Odds are a good many of you have never heard of this atypical Stephen King project before, but that's what I'm here for, folks: to keep you in the know.




Thursday, August 23, 2012

Crossover Mega-Special! "Bryant Has Issues" and "News From the Kingdom" IN ONE ISSUE!!!!!

I hadn't actually intended to put out a comics column this week, since my pull list included a mere two titles (neither Stephen King related), but I've found in the past that if I let these things go a week or two, then when I finally get around to catching up they seem damn near unmanageable.  So, a new resolution: to blog about my new comics every single week, regardless of the content.

And to think, I once envisioned this as a monthly column.  Hah!

However, I had a genius idea today: combine "Bryant Has Issues" with "News From the Kingdom" (my King-news column) and just get it posted!  Yes, dear readers, THAT is what passes for genius in the Burnette household.

Let's start with the news, so that those of you who don't give a tin shit about my comics can bail out way before we get to that point.  Leading off, here are some brand-spankin'-new photos of Carrie and Margaret White from the new version of Carrie:





Looks pretty nifty to me, folks.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Review of "A Face in the Crowd"

The new short story "A Face in the Crowd" is on digital shelves today (here's a link), and yours truly stayed up late just so he could write a review.

And it really IS going to be a brief one, because, as with a great many short stories, there simply isn't a heck of a lot I could say without being more spoilery than I'd like to be.

So come along with me and let's see what I have to say.  Cause I, for one, damn sure don't know yet...



Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Review of "Shadow Show"

Ray Bradbury passed away on June 5 this year at the age of 91, which by almost any standard of measurement is a good long run.  If each us run a footrace with the Grim Reaper, relatively few of us lead him such a merry chase, and virtually none of us create such a grand legacy in the process.

Editors Sam Weller and Mort Castle would have had no way of knowing that Shadow Show, their anthology of all-new stories from noted authors in tribute of Bradbury, would make its appearance in the same summer that found the grand old magician pulling his final magic act: dying, only to immediately begin the process of living forever in the hearts and minds of untold millions of readers, past, present, and future.

A great many cultural titans were asked for their feelings on the subject of Bradbury's passing, and everyone from Steven Spielberg to Barack Obama seemed genuinely moved.  Perhaps the most poignant observance came via Stephen King, who had this to say on his website:

Ray Bradbury wrote three great novels and three hundred great stories. One of the latter was called "A Sound of Thunder." The sound I hear today is the thunder of a giant's footsteps fading away. But the novels and stories remain, in all their resonance and strange beauty.

King himself is unfortunately not represented in Shadow Show, but his sentiment -- "the thunder of a giant's footsteps fading away" -- is splashed all over it.  It is, I have no hesitation in saying, a great anthology, filled to the brim with good stories, several of which may well turn into classics in their own right.




I'd like to briefly consider each of the stories in their turn, but before we do that, I think it is worth noting just how drenched in melancholy this anthology is.  It is as if nearly all of the represented authors (there are a few exceptions, but only a few) decided, when approached about the possibility of contributing a story to this collection, to reach within themselves and not merely pay tribute to Ray Bradbury, but to eulogize him in some way.  In at least two of these cases, the eulogy is nearly literal; in others, it is much more generalized, and in some it is less a eulogy than a lament for the fact of death itself.  A lament, yes, but also, in a way, an embracing of the fact.

It was always going to be a shame for Bradbury to die, but it seems proper somehow that an anthology like this one should appear in the immediate wake of his passing.  It seems preordained in some way, and somehow, it strikes me that Bradbury would have appreciated the timing.

More than that, he would probably have appreciated the stories.  So should we.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #14

I am currently on day two of an eleven-day stay-at-home vacation, so you'd think I'd find plenty of time for blogging.  And yet, here it is, 11:23 pm, the day almost gone, and me only on my second sentence!  Not exactly top-notch as far as blogging efforts go.

Despite that, I press on, and present to you a crab in a top hat.





Is he live?  Is he dead?  Is he even a he?  Only the original photographer knows.

Prepare yourself, for that shall be only the first of numerous images tonight that don't actually make any sense.

So, what's the first comic up on this week's column?



Yay!  It's a Stephen King issue!  I love it when that happens; it almost makes these comics columns feel like they're on the correct blog.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

News from the Kingdom: August 15, 2012

It's been close to three weeks since I vomited up one of these news-roundup columns, and the reason for that is simple: not much news happening lately in the world of Stephen King.

The most notable event in that time has almost certainly been the much-reported-upon "news" that Javier Bardem is out and Russell Crowe is potentially in as Roland in the Ron Howard Dark Tower movies that may or may not ever get made.


Russell Crowe in 3:10 to Yuma

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Council of Geeks: "The Dark Knight Rises"

I’ve been wanting to write something for my blog in the way of a review of The Dark Knight Rises, but when the time came to sit down and actually do so, I frowned at my computer for a moment or two, a familiar feeling tickling the back of my brain.  I recognized it as the feeling I get when I come up with an idea.
 
In this instance, the idea was to get together with a couple of my friends and do a tag-team review/chat about the movie, and then post it here for the edification of untold future generations.  It took several days to get our schedules to sync up, which is the reason for the delay.  However, that has produced the side benefit of allowing me to feel a little better about the degree to which we spoil some of the surprises of the movie.  So, if you haven’t seen it yet, know this: we do not in any way hold back.  We’re assuming you’ve either seen it, or don’t care.
 
First of all, introductions.  You know me, of course, but joining me are Trey Sterling (who runs the blog Blackout) and Cody Dearman (who also gets his blog on once in a while, at Slightly Disoriented).  They’re both passionate movie lovers, highly opinionated, and prone to be correct way more often than not.  And, like me, they’re both Stephen King fans!  (Not that you'd know it from this particular chat.  Oh, well; maybe a King-chat will be on the books for some future installment.)
 
We had a long palaver about the movie, so without further ado, let’s just dive right in.  You will note that for a while, it’s just Trey and I, but don’t worry; Cody shows up later, and brings the goods when he does.
 
*****
 
Trey:   Greetings, fellow nerd.  I'm going to put Batman Begins on in the background.
 
Bryant:  Greetings and felicitations … and (I believe it's pronounced) "tally-ho."  If you get THAT reference, you win ALL of the nerd points.



It's from the first-season episode "The Squire of Gothos," but I always think of the Cort and Fatboy show...

 
Trey:  Nerd points serve no purpose, and therefore seem ... illogical.
 
Bryant:  Well done.  Alright, here's the plan: we'll just chat about this Batman stuff until one of us gets tired of doing so. Sound good?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Carlo Rambaldi Reaches the Clearing at the End of the Path

Sad news from Hollywood today, as special effects master (and two-time Oscar winner) Carlo Rambaldi has passed away at age 86.

Rambaldi is probably best known for his work for Steven Spielberg on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, for which he designed the squat little fellow from whom the movie draws its title.





Readers of this blog may also recall Rambaldi's work on a pair of mid-eighties Stephen King adaptations: Cat's Eye (for which Rambaldi provided the troll makeup) and Silver Bullet (for which he designed the excellent werewolf suit).

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #13

It seems utterly appropriate that as soon as I sat down to begin work on my latest comics column, there came a knock upon my door, ad that knock turned out to be from the friendly neighborhood UPS driver.  Who, as it turns out, was delivering to me a couple of awesome graphic novels I recently purchased.  One of those was the Absolute edition of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, which is an excellent addition to my burgeoning Alan Moore collection.

I'm actually more excited by the second one, though: Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft - Special Edition, the oversized hardback of Vol. 1 of Joe Hill's comics masterpiece.  I've included a hastily-composed photo of this book side by side with the trade paperback of Welcome to Lovecraft for comparison.  Apologies for how lousy my phone's camera is.




As you can see, we're talking about something that is clearly WAY bigger.  It's hard for me to emphasize enough how good the art looks in deluxe editions such as this one, especially when the art in question is as good as what Gabriel Rodriguez produces.

Monday, July 30, 2012

So, About This Prequel-to-The-Shining Thingy...

Back in February, I wrote a bit of a rant about the Before Watchmen comics that DC is putting out.  These (as you might theoretically not know) are prequels to Watchmen, a twelve-part comic series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons that is so much a classic that Time named it one of the hundred greatest English-language novels of the century.  Not graphic novels; novels of any type.

That's part of the reason why it's galling that DC would move forward with prequels against Moore's wishes.  It's also galling to me that I've been buying the damned things.  Truth is, they're fairly good, when compared to other current comics; compared to Watchmen, they are lacking in literally every way, but that's no surprise.
 
In that post, I asserted that part of the reason I was bothered by the DC-versus-Alan Moore brouhaha was that I knew it was only a matter of time before similar things started happening to Stephen King; and I knew that given my track record of buying such things, I'd shell out for these ripoffs, no matter what they were, or how bad, or how offensive.

But fuck, world, I figured you'd at least wait until King was dead!  But no, apparently, Warner Bros. has begun "quiet" discussions on the subject of milking a prequel out of the Stanley Kubrick version of The Shining.

Allow me to respond with some appropriate nerd-rage:




Now, if you know me, I betcha right about now you're thinking "Man, that Bryant Burnette sure is a hypocritical sumbitch."

Well, allow me to retort.