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Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born Hardcover – November 7, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." With those words, millions of readers were introduced to Stephen King's Roland - an implacable gunslinger in search of the enigmatic Dark Tower, powering his way through a dangerous land filled with ancient technology and deadly magic. Now, in a comic book personally overseen by King himself, Roland's past is revealed! Sumptuously drawn by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove, adapted by long-time Stephen King expert Robin Furth (author of Stephen King's The Dark Tower: A Concordance) and scripted by New York Times bestseller Peter David, this series delves in depth into Roland's origins - the perfect introduction to this incredibly realized world; while long-time fans will thrill to adventures merely hinted at in the novels. Be there for the very beginning of a modern classic of fantasy literature! Collects Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #1-7.

Questions for The Dark Tower Illustrators, Peter David and Robin Furth

Amazon.com: How closely did you work with Stephen King on this project?

Peter David: Robin worked far more closely with Steve before the fact, as it were, working out the overall story arcs and beats. My association was more after the fact: I wrote the scripting, which then went to King who provided the line edits and tweaks.

Robin Furth: I’ve been working with Steve King (and Roland!) for about seven years now, so the three of us have quite a long history. While working on The Gunslinger Born, I ran my outlines by Steve King and Chuck Verrill (Steve’s editor) at the same time that I ran them by our Marvel editors. After all, The Dark Tower is Steve’s child so it’s only right for him to have first dibs on any changes. I feel it’s really important that Steve has final say about The Long Road Home. Hence, I always try to make sure he sees everything as soon as I can send drafts to him, and that includes the articles I write and which are at the end of each issue.

Steve has been really supportive of this whole project which has been great. I was lucky enough to be with Steve while he looked through some of Jae’s early sketches for The Gunslinger Born and his reaction was a lot like mine—it felt as though somebody had reached into his imagination and had taken his characters and given them a physical existence. I think that’s pretty high praise, don’t you?

Amazon.com: Roland is one of the most iconic characters King has ever created. How hard was it to get him (and the other characters) "right" on the page? Did any iterations get vetoed by King?

Robin Furth: We were really lucky with The Gunslinger Born because we could adapt scenes directly from Wizard and Glass. We could really stick to Steve’s descriptions. (Occasionally we dipped into other Dark Tower novels, but on the whole, Wizard and Glass was our template.) The Long Road Home was a little more complicated since we spun the story from scattered tales that Roland tells about his youth—stories that are found throughout the Dark Tower books. (As you can imagine, I used my Concordance quite a lot while I was working on the outlines!)

To tell the truth, Roland has such a strong personality that he feels almost human. I even dream about the guy, and once or twice I swear I’ve seen his shadow pacing past my writing room door. (No joke.) But even when it comes to writing about someone you know well, every person has their own perspective. As long as Steve King feels like we’ve caught Roland’s youthful self, I’m happy. If longtime Dark Tower fans feel we have, then I’ll be INCREDIBLY happy. So far Steve has been pleased with our approach. Fingers crossed that the fans will feel the same way!

Peter David: King was very supportive of the license we took in terms of both the story compression and narrative stylizations that Robin and I undertook that were required to take a work of such massive scope and transform it into something that works as a graphic series.

Amazon.com: What was the most challenging aspect of this particular project?

Peter David: For me? Stage fright. Steve had stated that, as "a words guy," he was awaiting the scripts with great anticipation. That's pretty daunting, knowing that Stephen King is going to be going over my interpretation of what is arguably is most personal work.

Robin Furth: I suppose the biggest challenge has always been (in Mid-World speak) to stand true. In other words, to remain true to our original mission and to translate the Dark Tower universe from novel form to comic book form. The Dark Tower universe is so big that we have to do a lot of condensing. It’s both scary and exhilarating.

Amazon.com: Robin, I imagine it is challenging to fit a several thousand page series into a graphic novel. As the DT aficionado, was it hard to adapt this series? What parts of the book did you wish you could include but had to cut because it just wouldn’t fit?

Robin Furth: It certainly has been challenging (you should see the state of my fingernails), but it has also been a really great experience. I have learned huge amounts about comics and about storytelling. I have always loved Roland, Alain, Cuthbert, and Susan so it has been wonderful to work with them again. There’s something very moving about working with young Roland—the boy who grew into such a hard and (at times) unforgiving man. You see the wounds that later become calluses, if you know what I mean.

As for the parts of the book I had to cut—there are many! When we first started working on these comics, The Gunslinger Born was supposed to be six issues long. I handed in eight issues! In the end we managed to cut back to seven, which worked well. In retrospect, I guess the greatest challenge has been to know when to stick to the plot of Wizard and Glass and when to borrow from other books (or occasionally even other parts of the Dark Tower universe) in order to fill out Mid-World for those who don’t know the novels, or to make the comics ring true for long-term fans. That takes a lot of careful planning and sometimes it means taking risks, but if it works it’s really worth it.

Amazon.com: Peter, What was it like to work with Robin and King on this project? Have you worked closely with writers before on adaptations of their work?

Peter David: It was both exciting and daunting: exciting being part of something as ambitious and potentially groundbreaking as this endeavor, and daunting in that King is a writing god whom I desperately wanted to please with my interpretations. No, I've never worked with a writer adapting his work before, which is why this was new territory for me: And what a place to start, huh? It's difficult to imagine any subsequent experience with adapting someone's work measuring up to this.

Amazon.com: What is your favorite panel?

Robin Furth: I must say I like them all, so I don’t know if I could choose. However Jae recently sent me the cover for the first issue of The Long Road Home, and I think that would be in my top ten!

Peter David: I'm torn on that. In terms of story narrative, the one where Roland and Susan give in to their passion. In terms of pure iconic power, that two-page spread early on where we first see Roland, as the gunslinger, in pursuit of the man in black. You never have a second chance to make a good first impression, and Jae and Richard just absolutely nailed it.

From Publishers Weekly

SignatureReviewed by Paul Pope This comics adaptation (including prequel) of King's Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born follows the early days of the Gunslinger, Roland Deschain. For the first hundred pages or so, you think you're in the old American West, until we come across a landscape littered with rusted oil rigs and vintage WW2 Panzer tanks. This sort of future-past otherworldliness typifies Roland's experience as he begins his quest as a teenage cross between Malory's Lancelot and Sergio Leone's Man with No Name. He and his young friends, high-born sons of the landowning political cadre called the Affiliation, are student-apprentices in a sect of knights bearing an arcane code of ethics, who must undergo strict training in order to bear the title Gunslinger. Early on, Roland earns the title Gunslinger by overcoming his teacher in a masterful fight sequence. Eventually, Roland and a group of fellow Gunslingers are sent to spy on the evil John Farson. Pretty soon, things get medieval. Maidens in distress appear, as do sadistic bad guys, witches and a weird monster called the Thinny. The Gunslinger's world is a weird hodge-podge of 1066 Hastings, 1865 Appomattoxand 1941 Warsaw—and in places the mélange is quite exciting. Still, a lot of The Gunslinger Born's plot is unclear and the prose purplish. Characters walk on and walk off, communicating in monotonous speeches wedged between scenes of murder and torture. The requisite love affair between Roland and young Susan Delgado is a bit passionless, and there's very little mirth; emotional ranges stretch from grimacing endurance to abject misery. Writer/adapter Peter David turns some nice phrases in a sort of sub-Faulknerian style, but the wordiness slows the action. At times, artist Jae Lee and colorist Richard Isanove are left with little to do other than create static pinup pages to accompany the prose. Nevertheless, there is a palpable charisma embedded in The Gunslinger Born—you can tell everyone involved is having a blast. Lee's drawings are smoothly rendered and realistic, yet sensually illustrative, and his art has never seemed so warm. And there's a touch of legendary underground comics artists Richard Corbin and Frank Frazetta in Isanove's palettes. The GunslingerBorn is the perfect starting point for those who think comics contain nothing but men in spandex costumes and masks. If it hooks new readers, that's good enough for me.Paul Pope is the artist/writer of the Eisner Award–winning graphic novel Batman Year 100 (DC Comics) and PulpHope: The Art of Paul Pope, recently published by AdHouse Books.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Marvel (November 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785121447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785121442
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.8 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

326 of 351 people found the following review helpful By D on November 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a huge Dark Tower fan I was ecstatic when I first heard news of this comic series and, even though the story itself is mostly a re-telling of Roland's flashback story from WIZARD AND GLASS, it was still very enjoyable. I wish that I had just stuck with buying the individual issues instead of the hardcover in addition.
What I loved most about the individual issues were the stories that Robin Furth wrote at the end of each issue which were really interesting and really helped flesh out some of the mythology previously established in the book series (Arthur Eld's backstory, the forging of Roland's guns, the creation of Maerlyn's Rainbow, Rhea's backstory, Jonas's backstory, , Roland's TRUE relationship to the Crimson King, etc.). I enjoyed the story enough that I felt warranted in buying the hardcover so I could read it in one convenient collection.
HOWEVER, Marvel, for some reason I cannot imagine (other than to save money by cutting down on the number of pages) DID NOT include these stories in the hardcover. There is a nice collection of sketches and alternate covers but not a single one of the stories from the issues. GODDAMN is that annoying. I pretty much had no reason to buy this hardcover, since, if I want to read any of those nifty back stories I now have to dig up the individual issues, so I might as well read those instead.
Way to drop the ball, Marvel.
From now on, before buying any Marvel comic collection I'll have to wait until somebody else I know gets it first to find out if I'm being gypped on material that should have been in there in the first place.
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52 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Ryan VINE VOICE on November 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This would have been a 4 star review, if it were for the series (NOT the hardcover). The series had wonderful prose and backstories on origins of Dark Tower events and characters, filling in many gaps. This 25.00 book doesn't include those. Most Marvel hardcovers are in the 30.00 range, which should have meant by boosting the price a bit, fans could get the prose (perhaps sequentially in the back), along with the interviews, and possibly the Gunslinger's Guidebook. In the end, Marvel's negligence should NOT be rewarded with anything over a one star review for screwing over Stephen's fans.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sky VINE VOICE on November 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Shortly after graduating high school (too many years ago to admit to), I read my second Stephen King novel. I decided to take on King's 800+ page epic called The Stand (updated in the 90s to 1100+ pages!)...this after finishing his awesome story about young Ms. Charlie McGee called Firestarter. After those two novels I was hooked on anything King...couldn't wait for his next release.

In 1982 King brought back the main antagonist (albeit under a different name) of The Stand for the beginning of what turned into an awesome seven-part series called The Dark Tower. Flash-forward to 2007 and here we are with a new beginning to The Dark Tower series, a prequel, a graphic novel called The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born.

King worked closely with Marvel, his personal assistant of several years (Robin Furth) and an experienced comic book writer (Peter David) in order to deliver this inaugural graphic novel adaptation of his work. Jae Lee (another experienced comic booker) did the amazing artwork. And the result?...the beginning of what will hopefully go on for many years...a neverending adaptation to a neverending story one can only hope.

Unlike a King novel that takes a guy like me days (sometimes weeks) to finish, The Gunslinger Born takes about an hour. And readers are rewarded with King's signature prose and stunning images to accompany every word.

The story starts with Roland Deschain's Gunslinger School "graduation test" (rest assured this ain't no written test), then follows Roland and friends as they embark on their fisrt assignment by the elders.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By CryFenril on November 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The first descriptions of this book gave me the impression that it would cover parts of the story that were left untold in the original books - most notably the infamous battle at Jericho Hill, or the mysterious Jamie whom we hear about in the series but never meet.

I was disappointed, then, to find out that what I was handed was a rehash of Roland's trial of manhood and a quick synopsis of Wizard and Glass. There is no material that is at all new to any reader of the series.

But my disappointment was offset by the care taken in presentation. An excellent adaptation, in my opinion; it allows the reader a more tactile glimpse of characters who were already well-fleshed in the mind and only needed a little nudge to reach the next level of realism. The artwork is splendid, very gothic with heavy emphasis on shadows and blood-spatter.

It puts one in mind of early Frank Miller with an airbrush stapled to his hand. After a night's heavy drinking. And a bar fight or two. Such a treatment is perfect for the story of a young man's descent into fate and tragedy.

The scripting is a little overblown in its attempt to recreate King's Outer Arc "patois" at times (I got a bit tired of seeing "do ye ken" and "may it do ya" and such) but adds to the overall flavor of the latter part of the series. The overall feeling is dark, and savage, and very bloody - which is appropriate. Richard Isoanove apparently took inspiration from the Tower work by Michael Whelan; his use of color and scale is similar enough to induce feelings of deja vu. A very nice touch, if not an all-out homage.

I do not think it would be an appropriate book for those who have not read the series, only because so much of the plot in Wizard and Glass had to be trimmed for length.
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