“Stephen King’s N.” by Marc Guggenheim and Alex Maleev (Marvel, 2011)

Stephen King's N.

There is a place you must not go; must never go; for that way leads to madness!  You see there is a place in rural Maine known as Ackerman’s field; in fact, I shouldn’t really be telling you this; make sure no one reads this.  In this field – that few know exists – are seven important stones, sort of like Stonehenge, only far more powerful and important.  You see if you look at these stones in a certain way, like through a camera lens, you will see an eighth stone.  But that’s a good thing, because we need eight stones to be there to keep that portal to the hell dimension closed; otherwise that thing will be let free.

This is the story of Ackerman’s Field, told from Sheila’s viewpoint about her brother, a psychiatrist named Johnny who had a patient he referred to as N.  Through his journal entries, Sheila – and in turn the reader – learn about this mysterious character called N and his travels to Ackerman’s Field.  What he learned of the stones and what they are protecting; the reader also learns about his untimely end and how Johnny himself inevitably got involved.  But the question is how many lives will this mysterious and terrifying place take?

Originally told as a multi-part graphic video series, it was published as a short story in Stephen King’s Just After Sunset collection, and is now told in glossy, colorful graphic novel version, giving life and form to creatures and characters from Stephen King’s imagination.  Alex Maleev’s artwork evokes the frightening and captivating, while Mark Guggenheim’s words move the story along at a gripping and nail-biting pace.  You don’t have to be a Stephen King fan to enjoy the great graphic novel story that is Stephen King’s N.

Originally written on October 13, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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“Strange Tales II” by Harvey Pekar, et. al. (Marvel, 2011)

Strange Tales II

After the popularity and success of the original Strange Tales, Marvel is back with Strange Tales II, featuring a whole host of familiar and renowned characters and superheroes and villains, all in strange and unusual and unpredictable and shocking situations you’d never really expected them to be in.  But the key to Strange Tales II is that it’s another great “what if” for known names readers may wonder about beyond the pages of their daredeviling and adventurous comic books.

Here you will find many know names – and some not – from the world of comics and illustration, including Jhonen Vasquez, Rafael Grampa, James and Gilbert Hernandez, Kate Beaton, Jeff Lemire, James Stokoe, Terry Moore, and Harvey Pekar to name a few.  And within these pages you’ll discover the likes of Wolverine involved in mixed martial arts tournaments, eating hot dogs, and giving relationship advice; Spiderman being invited to the prom; or Thor forging an alliance with a disguised farm animal.

In Strange Tales II, you will find your heroes and your idols in strange places and strange situations, and you’ll be entertained and you’ll laugh, because sometimes these special people get up to mischief and engage in unusual actions to say the least.  Eventually they will return to the action and saving of lives their famous for, but for now sit back and peer into the hidden stories beyond the adventure comic.

Originally written on September 21, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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“Stephen King’s The Stand Volume 1: Captain Trips” by Roberto Aguire-Sacasa, Mike Perkins, et. al. (Marvel, 2010)

Captain Tripsstarstarstarstar

After the success of the popular graphic novel series of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, Marvel has decided to take on the epic story of Stephen King’s The Stand.  For those not familiar with the story: a government-made lethal virus gets out of the lab after an accident that has the now infected guard fleeing for the hills with his infected wife and kid.  The virus spreads at an alarming rate and soon there’s only a select population left.  These people have dreams of two people: Mother Abigail and Randall Flagg; they will have to choose whether they’ll be fighting on the side of good or evil.  In true Marvel style, the artwork is stunning, combining elements of the TV mini-series, as well as incorporating exact scenes from the book; but Perkins also establishes his own style and look for The Stand.  In Captain Trips, readers meet our main characters and see just how devastating this virus is, and to what extent the government will go to to prevent panic and keep things quiet.  A must for any King fan, and for anyone interested in The Stand.

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Originally written on December 21st, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Sacramento Book Review.