Sunday, April 30, 2017

Catching Up with the Kings, Part 4: Joe Hill in comics

A while back, Joe Hill was hired by the CW to develop a reboot of the '80s television anthology Tales from the Darkside.  Hill sketched out a plan for three seasons' -- !!! -- worth of story, and completed three full screenplays (two half-hour episodes which served as the pilot, and an hour-long episode).  The pilot was filmed, and was evidently well-received by all who saw it, but the CW opted not to go to series, and that was the end of that.
Sort of.
Later, somebody at IDW Publishing (Hill's normal comics publisher) had the idea of repurposing the screenplays as a comic-book limited series.  And so they did over the course of four issues during the spring and summer of 2016.  We'll get to those in a bit, but first, this:

After the miniseries ended its single-issue run, IDW published a hardback -- pictured above -- that contains Hill's original screenplays, plus illustrations by C.P. Wilson III (who drew Hill's Wraith miniseries a few years ago).

Since the project began as a television project, and also since the scriptbook came out prior to the collected graphic-novel edition of the comics, we'll cover the screenplays themselves first.  So let's get to covering!

An introduction by Hill (titled "Getting In Touch with My Darkside") relates the project's history, which includes the confession that some of what he ended up establishing as the would-be mythology for the series was triggered by an episode based on one of his dad's stories, "Word Processor of the Gods."  This new series does not seem to have been intended as a follow-up or spinoff of that story in any direct way, but took its notion of a reality-modifying processor and springboarded from there.  My guess based on the evidence at hand is that somebody in Hill's iteration of the series developed a processor similar to the one in King's story/episode, and did so thanks to the inspiration of having seen the episode of the original Tales from the Darkside series.  I'd speculate further that what that person did was develop a microchip that, when implanted in a human brain, unlocked reality-altering potential.  
But since the series never went that far, we'll likely never know for sure.

Now, let's look at each of the three scripts, beginning with:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Catching Up with the Kings, Part 3: Joe Hill in prose

In blogging about my efforts to get current with the King family of writers, I hadn't intended to segregate the King brothers; it just happened that way as a result of when their respective books and stories were released.  But so it goes, and we now turn our attention toward big brother Joe Hill, and his novel The Fireman.

The Fireman is Joe Hill's fourth novel.  If you said it was his best, I'd not argue with you, and if you said it was his worst, I'd not argue with you.  My favorite is Heart Shaped Box, but not by a wide margin, and I'd need more time with all of them before I undertook a really-for-real ranking of them.

This most recent one is demonstrably the lengthiest, clocking in at nearly 750 pages.  Too long?  It's debatable.  I'd have kept right on reading it, though, probably for about another few hundred pages.  It may be that that is the only review that really matters.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Catching Up with the Kings, Part 2: Owen (and Kelly Braffet)

Lord knows why I felt moved to evoke The Dukes of Hazzard in titling this post, but such is the content of my brain.
Part 1 of Catching Up With The Kings was about me reading the Stephen King books I'd foolishly put off for the past year or so.  Parts 2 and 3, then, will focus on the achievement of a similar task as it regards the rest of the King family of writers, several of whom have, during that time, released works that I had blithely opted (temporarily) not to read.
In deciding what order to read the various books and stories in, I opted for a chronological-by-publication approach.  I'm not -- so far as I know -- clinically obsessive/compulsive, but I do find that I enjoy a chronological approach to things.  If nothing else, it allows me to easily make decisions like this one from time to time.  Coincidentally, all of the Owen King material was first out of the gate, and an anthology featuring his wife Kelly Braffet came soon thereafter, so I've elected to cover all of that in a single post.
We begin with:

Often, when I blog about anthologies, I briefly give an opinion of each story or essay.  I'm not going to do that with Never Can Say Goodbye; I suspect most of my readers will be uninterested.  And I don't know that there's a pressing need for me to hang on to my opinions (which is always a primary factor in my decision-making process as a blogger) on most of these essays.
This is not to say that I didn't enjoy Never Can Say Goodbye.  I thought it was moderately enjoyable on the whole, though I will confess to being relieved to have finished it.  In the end, it's inferior to the Jackson 5 song from which it -- probably inadvertently -- draws its title.  Is this an unfair thing for me to say?  Probably, but when and if I read "moderately enjoyable" books titled I Want You Back or The Love You Save, I'll say the same.  You give a book a title it will share with The Jackson 5 at your own peril.
Turns out, the book is a sequel!  Specifically, it's a sequel to Sari Botton's anthology Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York.  I did not know this, which is fine, since I only bought it for the Owen King essay.  Goodbye to All That has no essay by King, so it will not be covered here (although I might eventually buy a copy due to the fact that it's got a piece by Emma Straub in it).

King's essay is titled "Hot Time in the Old Town," and, at a mere four pages, it's rather brief.  It's always a bummer to buy a book like this for a specific author's work only to find something so brief.  But don't let the brevity fool you: this is a very good essay.