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:
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.
coll-ect-ion-ing (kƏ lek' shƏn ing) 1. the process of systematically adding to one's collection of a specific type or category of objects. 2. a sign of low-grade obsessive-compulsive disorder. 3. another reason for people in Third World countries to hate people like me.
So, what's been added to the collection recently? Let's start with some graphic novels.
I've been buying American Vampire since the series began, so I've got every issue that there is. However, I'd never gotten around to buying any of the collected editions, and it was bugging the hell out of me. So, in one fell swoop, I picked up all three of them in hardback. (A fourth is due next week; it'll probably have to wait a while, just like these did.)
It's a terrific series, and for those of you who are concerned that you might not like it because (A) it's a comic book and/or (B) because Stephen King only co-wrote Volume One, let me say this: buy the first volume, and just give it a chance. If you like it, buy Volume Two, and you like it, buy Volume Three.
It's just that simple.
Just as I had every issue of American Vampire, thereby making it somewhat pointless for me to get the collected editions, so it is with Marvel's The Stand. (And with the other titles I'll be talking about after this one.) I could not pass up this omnibus edition, however, and while part of me wishes I hadn't spent the triple figures it cost me, I have to say, it looks awfully good sitting on my shelf.
And at some point in time, I'm going to hella enjoy sitting down and reading the entire thing the same way I'd read a novel. I was somewhat frustrated with it in single-issue form; sometimes I thought it was great, sometimes I thought it was decent, sometimes I found myself not particularly caring about it in any way.
In any case, it's all over now, and you've got to admire the fact that writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Mike Perkins were able to complete the entire thing without -- I think this is accurate -- ever once falling behind schedule. That's an achievement, and my guess is that reading the entire series in one big gulp is going to make some of the problems seems less problematic.
I enjoyed the hell out of Marvel's adaptation of N. when it came out, so I'm VERY pleased to finally have the hardback on my shelf. Marc Guggenheim did an excellent job adapting the short story to the comics medium; he added things to the story, but they are thoroughly consistent with King's tale (in the same way that Frank Darabont's additions to The Shawshank Redemption are, if you want a comparison for what I mean).
And I hadn't remembered until I got the hardback that THIS is where I know Alex Maleev from. I've been bitching about his art on the current miniseries The Gunslinger: The Man In Black recently, and flipping through the pages of N. simply reinforces my opinions. Not in the way you'd think, though: I'm reminded that I loved Maleev's art for N., and this makes his work on The Man In Black seem all the weaker in comparison.
That's disheartening, but don't let it influence your thoughts about N.: this one is well worth picking up.
From Marvel to IDW, who recently put out the four-issue miniseries Road Rage. This consisted of a two-part adaptation of the Stephen King & Joe Hill short story "Throttle," as well as a two-issue adaptation of the story that inspired "Throttle," Richard Matheson's "Duel."
I ran hot and cold -- mostly cold -- on these comics, but they are still worth checking out; the art is pretty good, and the stories are good enough that even when they aren't adapted terribly well (which is how I felt), they still shine through enough to entertain.
Best of all, both King and Hill wrote short essays that appear here as introductions (King's to "Throttle" and Hill's to "Duel"). Hill's in particular is excellent, and it's just as much about King as it is about Matheson; more so, probably.
Speaking of Joe Hill, the fifth volume of Locke & Key is out now. It's called "Clockworks," and it is terrific.
In the course of starting this blog and communicating with other King fans, I have occasionally run into roadblocks in terms of convincing people that Locke & Key is worth their time. I don't have much trouble on the general subject of Joe Hill, who most King fans seem to agree is awesome; it's the fact of Locke & Key being a comic book that seems to trip some people up. I've heard some say they find comics difficult to read; I've heard others say that comics "aren't really reading" at all.
To each his own, but in my opinion, comics are demonstrably capable of being every bit as rich as the finest prose, or the best movie. To my mind, Locke & Key proves it. It's maybe a few baby-steps behind the best work of Alan Moore, but otherwise, this is as good as any comic I've ever read ... which places it in the vicinity of the best fiction I've ever read. Of any type.
I can't say the same for The Cape, sadly. The original short story by Hill is phenomenal, and it made for a very logical choice to be adapted into the graphical medium.
This collection is composed of five chapters: one is a straight-up adaptation of the short story, and the other four are a sequel to it, as written by Jason Ciaramella. Of those four, I thought the first three were terrific, and the last one was ... not. In fact, it was so much not that I can't in good faith recommend this collection. There is some good art here, and some great individual scenes, but on the whole it feels like a misfire.
That's it for the graphic novels. Moving on, we come to some movies:
Part of my September splurge was on finally -- FINALLY! -- buying a Blu-ray player. I'd long since realized that each and every DVD I bought was just a Blu-ray I was eventually going to have to upgrade to, so it really made next to no sense to not just start buying Blu-rays. The problem with that is that I don't have an HDTV. I've got a '98 Zenith, which means that those Blu-rays would look exactly like DVDs on my teevee.
Still, it makes no sense to keep buying DVDs of stuff that is available on Blu-ray, and so I have finally made the change.
And so it is that Season 2 of Haven became my first Blu-ray purchase. I don't particularly like the show; I don't think it has much of anything to do with Stephen King. It feels, frankly, like a lame cash-grab. And they just grabbed some of my cash.
To be fair, I didn't watch the entirety of the second season when it aired, so maybe it got better after I stopped watching. At some point, I'm going to sit down and watch the episodes I missed, and give it a fair shake. But I'm not too excited about it, if you want to know the truth.
Speaking of things I'm not too excited about, here are a couple of DVDs I bought to bring my King movie collection up to date:
These are both terrible movies; hard to imagine why I'd taken so long to buy them.
In the case of A Return to Salem's Lot (a genuinely pathetic -- borderline incompetent -- movie), it was a rebuy; I own the VHS, but amazingly had never been able to motivate myself to upgrade, despite the fact that I don't even have a functional VHS player anymore. But, finally, I did upgrade to DVD. God help me, but someday, if it's ever released on Blu-ray, I'll probably upgrade it again...
As for Bag of Bones, well, it's shit. This is no surprise, given that it was directed by Mick Garris, who has never directed anything that isn't shit, as far as I'm concerned. What DOES surprise me is that there is no commentary track from Garris here, and that bums me out. I'm not a fan of Garris as a director, but I enjoy his commentary tracks; he sounds like a very affable fellow, and his love for Stephen King's work is always abundantly evident on his commentaries. So while I didn't like what he did with Bag of Bones, I was nevertheless looking forward to hearing what he had to say about it.
I'm sure it'll come out on Blu-ray eventually; maybe there will be a commentary then.
Finally, a smattering of books and such:
Until listening to a recent episode of The Lilja & Lou Podcast, I had no idea that Stephen King had served as the reader for the audiobook of Tabitha King's novel One On One. It's an abridged reading, sadly, but nevertheless, I snapped up the first used copy I could find.
Now to convert it to MP3s! My only method for doing that is to hook up my cassette deck, put my MP3 player (which is capable of recording audio) in front of it, and then press play on the one and record on the other. Final step: lock my cats in another room so the recording isn't punctuated by incessant food requests.
This is Tin House #40, which included a King poem, "Mostly Old Men." I didn't have that poem in any form, so I'm happy to finally have a copy of this one. Will I sleep easier at night as a result?
It's entirely possible.
Stephen King has written a large number of introductions to other writers' books, and here are two I crossed off my list. I've by no means got a complete collection of these; maybe someday.
And finally, one of the items I'm happiest to have:
Yep, that's a copy of Marvel's Bizarre Adventures #29, which included a nineteen-page King-scripted adapted of "The Lawnmower Man," with art by comics legend Walt Simonson. I'd never bothered looking for a copy, mainly because I assumed it would be out of my price range; I was not entirely correct about that, given that this issue -- which is in terrific condition -- set me back a mere $13.
To this day, it is one of the very few comics King himself has scripted. It's good stuff; nothing revelatory for anyone who's read the short story. Walt Simonson's black-and-white art is excellent.
Welcome to the collection, you!
And that brings the recent round of collectioning to a close. Now, to rearrange the shelves...