Dark Tower Reread pt. 2: The Drawing of the Three

"Listen carefully. And if you would remain safe, let your face show nothing which might further rouse the suspicions of those army women."

I'm just about 100 pages into Wizard and Glass in my 2019 Dark Tower re-read, and I figured it was about time to get cracking on this here Drawing of the Three post lest I get too far ahead of myself. 


I more or less had the same reactions to this book in 2019 that I had when I first read it in 2012. With one exception: 2012-me seemed to really like Phil Hale's art. 2019-me really did not. Let's tackle that first. 

The moments chosen were all so odd, although that's a general complaint for the Dark Tower series art altogether. It's like they had zero idea what moments of the book were iconic, or how characters were supposed to look. Let's say you were an illustrator and were hired to produce 5 or 6 illustrations to accompany a new edition of The Hobbit, to choose something fairly universally known. Would you a) draw the most notable monsters of the book in a way that is directly contradicted by the text description? b) have one of the drawings be a close-up grin of a character who's not even in the book? and/or c) have the rest be odd-angle close-ups of only one of the action sequences, say the dwarves fighting the goblins under the mountain? In a way where you can't tell who's who or what's going on, not like an epic battle scene that conveys any of the scene's excitement.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you and Phil Hale would seem to be on the same page. 

Does this look 4 feet long to you? Or like lobster/ vulture hybrids "with a coat of paint?"
Total waste of space. (Actually, is that one in the middle Phil Hale? You'd figure this stuff would be organized neatly and comprehensively out there, but go ahead and google "Phil Hale and Drawing of the Three" and click on everything that comes up: even the Stephen King Dark Tower page mixes things up and leaves things out. That's supposed to be Walter/ the MIB, right?)

No offense to Mr. Hale, whose reputation is world-class. But this time around I was baffled by the selections and their execution. Thankfully I enjoyed revisiting the text a lot more than the pictures. 


Things get off with a bang when Roland walks along the edge of the Western Sea (and I don't quite understand how it's the "western" sea, but cardinal directions - like the flow of time - are all kablooey in Roland's world) and meets the lobstrosities, some of my favorite things from any King novel. I love these guys and their "lawyerly questions" ("dad-a-chock? dad-a-chick? dad-a-chum? dad-a-cham?") and the little things, like how they all raise their arms up when the surf comes in. One of them takes a sizable chunk out of Roland's hand and poisons him. Exciting beginning and a rule of the monomyth ("You have forgotten the face of your father") : grievously wound your protagonist near the start of his journey.

From there Roland finds the first of The Doors. Not Manczarek and the gang but actual doors hanging into space, leading, it seems, into one of the "other worlds than these" Jake mentioned last time. Let's spend a moment on the doors themselves.

The whole business with this first door and everything that goes with it (going back and forth, testing what can be brought and how, carefully considering the physicality of everything described - including a surreal, shimmering door following Eddie in a taxi cab, etc. - "coming forward" etc.) is like a peak at King's inner writing process. We're seeing the struts and the beams of the novel-in-progress. He's asking questions of his concept and answering them, in "real time" as it were, allowing the prose itself to pose the question and provide the answers. All of this stuff is great fun - and it's something he will revisit, both less successfully and more, in The Regulators, Dreamcatcher, and End of Watch - and the way King breaks up the sections is also fun. Like this:

King has mentioned the importance to the reading eye of occasional (and well-strewn) white space between blocks of text a few times in interviews or introductions. Here, it helps with the whole POV shifting in play. (I also like how Roland is expressing the author's own sleight-of-hand in pt. 10 up there. By emphasizing and isolating his relief that Eddie Dean is buying the whole set-up, he is extending the same acceptance to the reader. Jedi Mind Trick. I approve.) 

That said, some of the stuff with the Doors (reading the 'Mortpedia' etc. It'd be like getting a thesaurus in a whole different language. Can he read "pictures" in Mort's mind? If so, are they limited? It's referred to as pictures from a menu. How can he interpret these things? Or with Eddie, how can he know so much but be so confused/ vague on things?) is just too much. It's magic, and King doesn't need to make sense, but the illusion of sense that he weaves is sometimes so strong that he ends up illuminating the ways it doesn't add up.


I have very few complaints with this section. Eddie is introduced well, and I like pretty much everything that happens and how it unfolds. The army women quote up there amuses me muchly. Everything with the gangsters and Eddie's inner world and Henry and his interactions with the customs folk = A+. Loved it.

Three things, though:

 (1) "O great sage and eminent junkie..." You know when King seizes on a phrase and drives it so far into the ground that it goes through the center of the earth and causes earthquakes in China? He doesn't quite do that here, but you see him almost losing it. At one point, though, he gets tired of this little tic he gave himself to work with and it becomes "great sage and eminent blah-blah", then he drops it altogether. I was grateful. 

(2) Eddie gets off heroin kind of fast, doesn't he? I get that there are extenuating circumstances (and how), but yeah: I don't know of anyone who had a junk habit, kicked it cold turkey, and then took care of a fever-sick gunslinger (or anyone) during their weeks of withdrawal. I'm not saying it's impossible, just improbable to such a degree where I feel King should have addressed it more. 

(2.5) While we're here, do Eddie and Odetta fall in love a tad too conveniently and quickly? Do they ever. But I can shrug this one off. Truth be told, I can shrug off the accelerated pace of his heroin recovery as well. If only King's quickened pace (for either) had a real world analog. 

(3) In the span of one half a page, Eddie references Christa McAuliff, Walter Payton, and the movie The Shining. (And mercifully doesn't bash it.) That plus all of Eddie's endless wisecracking (with about 1 of every 100 being actually funny wisecracking) I think King is (or maybe was) a lot like Ritchie Tozier. I wonder if that's his purest how-he-is-in-real-life analog. I don't think there is one perfect one, but I'd love to pick his wife and loved one's brains on the topic.


At one point Eddie says Roland has "eaten an apple from the fever tree." That sounds like some down-home expression that I should have heard before and hell maybe I have and forgot. It's a good one, though. Sort of like the mirror universe of The Sweetheart Tree.

During the fever "shuffling" sections, Roland's diseased body and scattered POV put me in mind of certain passages in The Tommyknockers or Misery, and I wondered how much this was the real-world author of 1985-1986 peeking through. (Which is kind of funny given the actual author's later appearance - is this foreshadowing of a certain kind?) I wasn't sure exactly when he was writing Drawing of the Three, though, so I turned to The Truth Inside the Lie maestro Bryant Burnette who sent me the following:

"There is an appendix (in Bev Vincent's The Road to the Dark Tower) containing a timeline of the series' creation.  It lists the dates of the writing of The Drawing of the Three as June 15, 1986 to September 1986.  The corresponding dates for the other books you mention aren't listed, but each of those individual books do have their dates listed at the end (which Drawing itself does not):

It -- September 9, 1981 - December 28, 1985
The Tommyknockers -- August 19, 1982 - May 19, 1987
Misery -- September 23, 1984 - October 7, 1986"

So yeah that would put the writing of DOT3 smack-dab in the middle of "the end of my adventures" section described in On Writing. There might be some of King's real world anguish in this part. (All the odder, then, that he'd give an inaccurate read on Eddie's heroin withdrawal. Perhaps it was wishful thinking - my kingdom for a door to a world where I can't score and have to kick and have a gunslinger to save.)


Skipping ahead to Jack Mort for a second. What an unsung creation from King's catalog this guy is. All the Do-bees do it right stuff and all the rest: an unpleasant but solid creation.  You really have to give him massive credit for how individuated each of these new characters is. Jack, especially - and you'd be forgiven for not even noticing given where he falls in the book and all the other stuff that's already happened/ is happening by that point.

I guess I find it a little silly that Jack is responsible both for dropping a brick on Odetta's head when she was a young girl and also the accident that took her legs. But here King has given himself an out: "it's all ka, brother." Okay fine.

The scene where the ammunition in Roland/Mort's explodes, and he drops his pants to reveal he's wearing ladies' underwear made me laugh. I pictured it Quantum Leap style, i.e. the viewer would see Roland, with a confused but very serious look on his face, but he'd be dressed in Mort's clothes. 

The scene where he orchestrates Mort's suicide to fuse Odetta and Detta makes zero sense. I read it three separate times, but it's lost in magic and vagaries. Still: cool to see the fucker get what was coming to him. 

Okay, so I mentioned the similarities between certain sections of DOT3 and Misery and The Tommyknockers. Here's the one that unfortunately is the equivalent of the sewer gangbang in the other book he was writing during this time. Everything above I more or less loved, even the parts I take mild objection to. I'd have no problem saying I love this book, it's an A. Here's the part that singlehandedly drops that grade to just about a 'C,' though, and baffles me:


Holy goddamn moley. Look: Detta Walker is just a mess. Not just as a character, but as an indication of King's synapses woefully misfiring. Just a real wtf, and possibly the only other wtf of the big man's catalog I can say is equal to the sewer gangbang in It. (And that neither can totally sink either work is truly amazing: how good do the other sections have to be to not sink the ship with these two complete missteps? Pretty effing good.) 

I can hang with the idea of Odetta, even if it's weird that King named her after an actual 1960s civil rights activist who she clearly is not. But okay - different levels of the tower, resonating (somehow), whatever. I'm sure there are those that object to a white guy authoring such a character, but I object to those objectors: at their heart of their objection is a bigoted, false premise they are not addressing. And I can sort of admire the idea (and the audacity) of trying to craft a character like Detta Walker / "Butterfly McQueen gone Looney Tunes" * nightmarish mess. And I like the idea of a "fused" Susannah Dean, but as we'll see, this fusion comes and goes at King's discretion (as even eventually her handicap does.) So, it's kind of a false resolution. 

* And it's not enough (verdammt) to just have other characters recognize how goddamn absurd and over the top and insane and hateful she sounds. This is King writing this, about himself; it reminds me of reading Raymond Chandler flirt with himself for pages. It's a stupid feint to even have the characters comment on this. 

Thing is, Detta Walker is not the only time in King's catalog where he bafflingly indulges this Stepin Fetchit/ Little Black Sambo Tourette's disorder (see The Plant, Mister Mercedes, et al) nor its equally cartoonish white counterpart (see Henry Bowers, Mister Mercedes and End of Watch, et al). It's kind of an insane part of King's head that he needs to never put on the page and you can't help but wonder just what the hell he thinks he's doing with this stuff. The dialogue he gives Detta ("GOAN, GRAYMEAT! GOAN, HONKY SONSA BITCHES!") is unreadable. These sections from her POV can only be skimmed. To look straight at them is to gaze upon the face of the Medusans.

And it sure does make me wonder how they figured on handling ANY of this in the movie. Especially when they cast Idris Elba as Roland and the whole conversation that kicked up. (I say conversation, but, as is all too often the cases in the media-academe environment of the 21st century, it was actually a monologue.) What gets me is that there are issues of substance and authorship and identity here, and instead of addressing them, King, when asked, chose to play the "Oh, the only thing that matters to Roland is how he treats is ka-tet" sentiment in response. Yeah. Lovely sentiment, but it sidesteps completely the this-is-only-there-because-you-WROTE-this-batshit-you-honky-mahfah issue. Not to mention he carelessly creates a false division between people who just read what King tweeted and clutch their pearls and get teary-eyed and anyone who actually cares about the novels or has a pretty reasonable question about this aspect of them. Suddenly, membership in the latter camp - previously open to anyone who, you know, cares about the books - is tied to the virtue-signalling bimbosity of the former. It truly angers me that instead of addressing this, King (and everyone involved in the looks-to-be-thwarted Dark Tower franchise) chose the false division path. We're only here because of you, big man; that wasn't an opportune time to fuck off back to la la land.

In addition to how stupid the character is and how appallingly (if spiritedly - he wrote her with gusto, but it's like diarrhea: it's not an excess anyone should be particularly impressed by. Its excess is a result of the sickness that causes it) she is written, the fact that she commando-style captures Eddie on the beach is also... well, how many different ways can I say stupid/ ridiculous, etc. I'm unsure why King makes her handicapped if any time he writes her into a situation (and the worst of this is yet to come, in bks 6 and 7) he can just shrug her handicap off. 

On this, though, I defer to the actual handicapped. Is this a problem for them? Or is it no big deal or even pleasant to see such a shrug-off in fiction that the real world does not afford? I can't answer this. The English major in me, though, objects beyond this and for other reasons: you just shouldn't give characters traits you're prepared to jettison when you feel like it.

There was a better path - and in Detta's case, a non-crazy-as-mothereffing-hell path - and King should have found it. Detta Walker torpedoes this book, and it's a damn shame. The ship ain't sunk, but it's listing into port through an act of pure self-sabotage.


- My main question from last time about why the CK/ MIB steer Roland to these doors is answered satisfactorily in The Waste Lands. We'll cover that next time.

- Flagg and Marten are referred to as different people. That's not right, is it? Of course, when he wrote this, the 2003 revision of The Gunslinger (where the MIB tells Roland this explicitly) was still in the future. Perhaps that's why?

- The ending is suitably cliffhangerish and the book as weird as it is suitably bk2-ish. I don't know how else to describe it, but it seems to fit my hazy mental idea of what an acceptable pt. 2 of an 8 pt. serial should look like, even if - to its credit - it has no analog to any other pt. 2 I can think of. Although: the very last few pages with Eddie and Roland seemed to just run into the end of the book. I guess King had some immediate other concerns at the time.

So much for my re-read. See you in pt. 3.


The Heck Ya Mean? pt. 2


We looked at Don "the" Heck "Ya Mean"s work for Marvel work last time; now it's time for his work over at National Publications. I ended up as always with more screencaps than I planned for, so this will be split into 2 parts.

Two quick things before we dive into the pictures: (1) I've always referred to Don as the unsung hero of Marvel's early years. I may have been overstating that a bit. I have no desire to dis the guy or anything, just I'd never looked at so much of his art all at once before. Some of it seems rushed or repetitive: twin hazards of the comics illustrator's job. But just being honest. I still think he's a rather unsung artist, but maybe I'm rethinking some of my earlier statements like "Don Heck belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of Silver Age Marvel." Maybe he does and maybe he doesn't, I just don't feel quite as certain of that as I once did.

And (2) my daughter saw the above Teen Titans picture and I had to explain who Harlequinn (the 70s Batman Family/ Teen Titans heroine, aka Joker's daughter) was. As I did so, I realized hey, this was a terrible idea. Could've worked, but it humanizes the Joker to give him a daughter for one (unless the origin story is somewhat dark, which is similarly unpleasant/ bad-idea-ish) and two, was her visual based on Lily Tomlin?

Could've been. Nothing wrong with that, I just wonder about such things.  I'll have to look up the appropriate Back Issue and see if there's any word on the subject. 

(While we're here: "You are ze masters of ze queek moves!" Wow. From Batman Family 14.)

Anyway: my daughters were both confused ("that's not Harley Quinn") and I think 70s / all-eras-audiences were, too. (Actually, that does not appear to be the case - there's a lot I'm skipping. But hey, the 70s had a lot of weird ideas, that's hardly controversial.)

Let's begin.


I remembered really enjoying Heck's work on the Batgirl segments of Batman Family when I was doing the 70s Batman posts. I still did on this revisit, but a few of the ones I specifically remembered as Heck were actually done by other artists. Oops. Sorry, Mike Grell et al., for this unfortunate but frankly all too predictable lapse in memory management. 

Still, Heck did a good enough job where I wonder what a stint on the main Batman books might have looked like. Marshall Rodgers, Jim Aparo, and other luminaries had it all covered, of course, but some good work all around.

I messed up with my captioning and Blogger formatting is making it difficult to fix, so no annotations for each issue, but they're all from Don's Batgirl segments in Batman Family v1.


The 70s had some of my favorite looks for super-heroines/ villains. This is hands down my favorite Supergirl costume. And no, not because of the hot pants aspect (although Don may have enjoyed that) - it just works well against the billowing blouse/ cape/ coiffure. But yeah: Ms. Marvel, Catwoman, Batgirl, so many others: their coolest costumes came out when Ford and Carter were in the White House and Pele was scoring goals for the New York Cosmos.

"The Man with the Eternity Hands" is an awesome title.
All caps from Superman Family 195 through 198.
Eyebrows, dude.

Outside of Supergirl, Don's other gig on the Superman books was the Rose and Thorn back-up in Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane, which I'll give its own section next time.  Next up:


Someone should make a list of all the angel dust warnings in comics during the late 70s through the early 80s. I'm not saying they were unwarranted, just - like that meme about quicksand you see go round every so often - my generation might have been set up to think it would be a bigger presence in our daily lives than it turned out to be. Other horrors awaited us, but the quicksand and angel dust epidemic, thankfully, weren't really among them. My apologies to any readers who've lost friends or loved ones to either. 

Heck's run on Green Lantern and The Flash - the first and for many years only DC titles I read - isn't really all that great, story-or-art-wise, I'm sad to say. Actually, the stories for the Flash issues I looked at weren't bad, but I struggled to screencap my way through it. Which is weird because he's inked by none other than Dick Giordano in this stretch. 

Question for any Heck fans reading this: who inked him best? (My answer: Heck himself.)

Flash 281.
Some spacescapes from Green Lantern 185.
Fiona, Barry's neighbor and post-Iris, pre-Crisis (given that he died in Crisis - permanently, as was said a hundred times at the time; of course he's back now/ several times) love interest.
Flash 289.
Sadly, this issue (Flash 293) is not as fun as this panel might otherwise indicate.


There's a great Back Issue devoted to horror comics of the Bronze Age. I should've cracked it open for this post. But it's all the way on the other side of the apartment.

Anyway, I'm not sure why Heck didn't do more work for DC's horror titles. As I recall, the editor for those titles had a reliable group of Filipino artists like Gerry Talaoc and the like that handled most of those. I'm sorry to pass on such shoddy research; any parties interested in the era/ that stable of comics should look up that Back Issue or just go and buy any of the cheap Essentials collections for Ghosts, The Witching Hour, or Sinister House of Secret Love. They're all great.

Horror comics-wise, which publisher did the best work? The conventional wisdom is EC, I guess, though I'd say Warren (Creepy, Eerie) is neck and neck if not in the lead. EC has the virtue of being the Neil Armstrong of the bunch. But its knock-off competitors (including Comics Media, for whom Heck did a bunch of great work and covers as mentioned last time) all look pretty good in retrospect. And props must be given to DC and Marvel's attempts in the 70s, once the Comics Code went away. 

Heck's work for horror / non-superhero stuff always looked a little better to me than his superhero stuff. I didn't screencap enough of it. Same goes for:


Anytime I see these old romance comics covers I think of the wonderful Romance Redux parody Marvel put out a few years ago, or the (hopefully) ongoing collections from IDW, Weird Love. All are totally worth getting; I love this crap. 

Just a couple of panels from Heartthrobs 100-102.

To Be Continued in 
Pt. 3: Don Heck - The DC Years, pt. 2!


Dark Tower Reread pt. 1: The Gunslinger

1982, rev. 2003

"He let them all have it, and the ones behind them. Their bodies thumped like scarecrows. Blood and brains flew in streamers."

As part of the whole King's Highway project a few years back, I read through The Truth Inside the Lie's recommended Dark Tower reading order - the old one, that is, it's been revised since then. Had a blast. I hadn't read word one of the Dark Tower stories at that time, so I was discovering it as I went along. Since then, I've chewed over various aspects of the whole story and have been keeping a mental list of follow-up questions. The time has come to dive back in. To the 7 main books, at least - I may possibly reread a couple of peripherals likes Bag of Bones or Insomnia, and definitely a couple of the tie-in short stories like "Everything's Eventual" and "The Little Sisters of Eluria." And obviously The Wind Through the Keyhole. We'll see how it goes. 

Note - there will be no or little recapping of the stories, so anyone who hasn't read the books might be a little lost. Sorry about that. Spoilers and not just for the book(s) in question but for Dark Tower altogether.

So! Here we are. I've just finished the revised edition of The Gunslinger that King put out in 2003. I gave this one a grade of "A" on my first read, and it came in at #24 in the most recently-compiled McRankings

Here's an excerpt from a review someone else wrote as excerpted in my original review:  

"The mystery of the book can also be overshadowing at times, rather than simply clouding perception the reader’s understanding is completely blocked for certain aspects of the narrative; which, at the closing point of The Gunslinger, can be overlooked, provided that they are explained later on in the series, otherwise this will be a serious flaw in this single book, let alone the series as a whole... I would not say this was an enjoyable read, but an intriguing and exciting one that has left me both frustrated and enthralled. The promise of the books that follow make the first book worth the reading as, when it boils down to it, the first book did nothing more than introduce the myths and imagery of the series, which themselves are a truly refreshing take on fantasy fiction."

I more or less still agree. It's one of those books where what is happening is clearly enough described, but motivation/ context is elusive. But is that a dealbreaker for a fantasy epic? You're supposed to want to keep reading to figure out what the heck is going on. 

As for the "enjoyable" read part - is it enjoyable? I'd say it's more fascinating than enjoyable, but my brain is fighting me on that. Even though as I was rereading it I kept noting I wasn't so much enjoying it as enduring it. It's an opaque style of writing that can be a slog. And in a few spots, the mix of recognizable fantasy trope with 70s dystopian fatalism / mystic drugginess does not succeed. And sometimes it seems like King was just adding things (like Zoltan's outbursts, or Roland's suspicion that "what his father really wanted to do was fuck") to be jarring. In the scene where Roland suspects the latter, for example, I didn't get that vibe from Steven Deschain whatsoever.

Back to whether or not I find it an enjoyable read. When I make a list of each scene of the book that stands out to me - the opening palaver with Brown, the re-telling of the massacre of Tull and all that preceded it (including the rather bizarre gun-barrel-abortion), meeting Jake, taking mescaline and having one off with the ring-circle demon, magical jawbones, the journey by handcar under the mountains while attacked by that staple of all post-apocalyptic fiction, slow mutants - there isn't one I'd point to that as unenjoyable. Just describing them makes me want to pop open the book again. What stops me?

The answer is probably the style in which it's written. I'm about halfway through the next book in the series The Drawing of the Three as I write this. I'll save my thoughts on that one til I get there, but the difference in voice is striking. From the first it reads like King Especially if you begin the Drawing directly after finishing The Gunslinger, as I did.

But this is the very quality of The Gunslinger that appeals to me: it's like an actual glimpse through the Ur-Kindle into the King of a different timeline. What did this Stephen King go on to do? It has some great lines - the first sentence is always quoted, and it's a great first line of a book/ saga, for sure, but throughout, there are some real gems. I liked "the witch moaned, a witch with cancer in her belly" as well as another scene-setter from the early pages: "He did not take the flint and steel from his purse until the remains of the day were only fugitive heat in the ground beneath him and a sardonic orange line on the monochrome horizon."

That said, some of the writing is overdone. "As alien to this place and time as True Love, but as concrete as a Judgment" seems a little at odds with some of the other observations Roland makes, or later with the oracle "The gunslinger could gauge the need in Jake's body by the madness the sounds of the crickets bred in his own body. His arms seemed to seek out shale to scrape on, and his knees seemed to beg to be ripped in tiny, maddening, salty gashes."

One thing I didn't like is during the Palaver at the end the Man in Black bids Roland to tell him his tale. But when Roland begins to speak, the chapter (VII) fades out on an ellipsis and the next one picks up after his tale is done. What? This happens off-camera? It's a dodge and intentional frustration; I do not approve of such things. (Moreover, it is never revealed why the Crimson King whom the MIB serves wants them to palaver to begin with, or why he'd go through the trouble of setting it up, or why the MIB would do many of the other things he does leading up to it if the whole point was to set up a meeting. Not here in book 1, but I don't think anywhere else either.)


A side-by-side comparison of all the stuff King put into The Gunslinger can be found here. It's a little remarkable to read. Is it just me or was like 80-90% of the recognizable Dark Tower content added in 2003. Is this a cheat? I don't think so, but there is a world of difference between mysterious scene-setting to be solved later and going back and, well, digitally inserting references. In King's intro, he writes:

"Once you know how things come out, you owe it to the potential reader - and to yourself - to go back and put things in order." 

Do you? I don't know. Or is this
 some kind of wink-wink foreshadowing to how the series would eventually end? 

At any rate, who can fault him for going back to streamline The Gunslinger into the other mythos. It's an understandable impulse and I think it stops short of the proverbial Greedo-firing-first line. Whether or not it improves the original stories I can't say, but it certainly makes them more Dark-Tower-y. 

King also mentions in that intro that The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly was one of the inspirations for finally beginning his magnum opus. Two films he doesn't mention are Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo and Holy Mountain. I'm not the first to notice the strong thematic and tonal things The Gunslinger has in common with these movies, with their opaque approach, weird sexualities, existential palavers, quests to the tower/ mountain to reset a world that's moved on, relationship between boy and gunslinger, and scenes of shocking violence. Is this just a case of two plugged-in Baby Boomers who grew up reading and watching similar sci-fi and horror drawing from similar wells? Probably. Which is interesting, as it places King's Gunslinger in the same generational aspirational iconography as something like Easy Rider or Ellison's Dangerous Visions. Which is to say, when one wants to read the "soul" of that generation, The Gunslinger might not be the most obvious place to look, but perhaps it's equally revealing. 

(And Jodorowsky himself even plays the lead in both films - foreshadowing of The Wordslinger's appearance in Book Six.) 

I was intrigued to discover at that link that the creature the MIB serves (whom we know later is the Crimson King) was originally identified as "Merlin" in the original. (Or "Maerlyn," rather.) Given how Maerlyn later appears in the Big Story, it's interesting to see he was first teased as the identity of the Big Bad of the whole series.

One last question re: these revisions: the MIB mentions to Roland that before he gets to the Tower (and the king that lies before it) he must face the Ageless Stranger. Who is this? Does the MIB not refer to himself as that somewhere? (A quick google suggests this happens in The Waste Lands.) It better not be Dandelo. That would be ridiculous. Anyway, I'll be throwing out questions as they occur to me and watching to see when and where the Series answers them. That seems appropriate given the nature of the series - and especially of Book One, here. 


What do people think of the subtitles of the different books? This one is "Resumption." Is that too on the nose?

(More questions but this one is more Drawing of the Three-specific, although it is mentioned specifically here: why exactly are the Doors there for Roland? Who built them? If we assume a benevolent entity/force helping Roland, is this just part of that, or are these things waiting there for anyone who can survive the lobstrosities? And why is the CK telling him about it instead of sending him in some other direction?)


"It's not for everyone, but somehow it also is: as when looking at King's entire literary output, The Gunslinger is a hodge-podge of genres and styles, thrown together, that somehow works perfectly." - James Smythe, Rereading Stephen King.

"I love the direction Roland's tale eventually took, but I am enough of a masochist that part of me wishes King had never written any further than this first novel. (...) This was a novel of questions, not of answers; I wanted to know the answers, but in a way, I wanted to never know them.  I love that sort of dark, majestic, unresolvable mystery, and as much as I also love King's later resolutions, I still yearn to be that young man devastated by the thought of Roland sitting on that beach, the Tower distant beyond all hope of approach. "- Bryant Burnette, Worst To Best: Stephen King Books (2018 Edition)

"This is a book loaded with descriptive imagery and flowery adjectives; it tends to be slightly confusing and heavy-handed. And yet… despite pulling clunky metaphors and laborious turns of phrase (that are more awkward than poetic), despite being written by a fledgeling nineteen-year-old author trying to write in a writerly, literary style, The Gunslinger is still pretty damn good." - Thea, The Book Smugglers.

As For Me (2019): A great and murky beginning to the series (micro) and a unique and cock-eyed contribution to the genre/ repertoire-itself/ King's canon (macro). 

Art by Michael Whelan