For a lot of Stephen King fans, the Dark Tower series is the Holy Grail of his writing. But the series — through a new chapter in its long history — is gunning for some new fans.
DARKNESS VISIBLE: Following the Gunslinger.
Seven books long, the epic was started in 1970 while King was still in college, before he had any inkling of what was yet to come. In March of that year, he sat down at his typewriter, and from his fingers came the opening sentence of The Gunslinger: “The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.”
The gunslinger is Roland, inspired by Robert Browning’s poem, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.” The gunslinger’s quest is to find the Dark Tower, and to discover its meaning.
It took King twelve years to finish the first book. Not until 2004 did the series conclude with the release of The Dark Tower itself.
Now a new offshoot of the epic has revealed itself. Story seeds that King thought of while he was writing the books have germinated, and from them has sprung forth a new entity — the Dark Tower comic-book series, The Gunslinger Born, whose first issue ($3.99) goes on sale this week.
Marvel Comics hired Peter David to script the stories with Robin Furth, King’s assistant and author of TheDark Tower: A Concordance. Eisner Award-winning artist Jae Lee is penciling the illustrations, and colorist Richard Isanove brings his color and light to Lee’s outlines. The comic uses the formative years of Roland’s coming of age as its basis, drawn from Wizard and Glass, the fourth Dark Tower book.
Casablanca Comics, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, will hold a midnight-release event as the Gunslinger’s comic incarnation is loosed on the world, at the company’s stores in Portland and Windham.
Casablanca’s owner Rick Lowell was interested in the project since it was announced two years ago, and his regular contact with Marvel has paid off. Beyond the midnight release (happening at just 150 locations nationwide), the Portland store host writer Peter David on Friday, February 9, from 3 to 6 pm. Later in the year, Casablanca hopes to have Furth visit from England to talk to fans as well.
Lowell spends a lot of time trying to attract non-traditional comic book readers, and sees the Gunslinger Born series as a way to reach out to fans of the books who might otherwise never read comics. This could be the silver bullet he’s been looking for.
Meet You in the Tower at Midnight | midnight | February 6 | Casablanca Comics, 151 Middle St, Portland + 778 Roosevelt Trail, Windham | 207.780.1676