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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 25, 2013
Finally my book arrived today and I was not disappointed at all..This book is a special edition, for book collectors and long time Stephen King fans..I was 14 yrs old when I first read "The Stand" and at that time was terrified...That's all I could talk about after reading it for days...So, I oftened wondered where the beginning of evil originated in King's mind for Randall Flagg..Back in the 70's, in school they weren't teaching us yet of large apocalyptic viral outbreaks and evil to that extent..

This book may not be for everyone...I found it to be excellent..I new what I was getting when I bought the book...I am still a big "Cemetery Dance Magazine" fan and subscriber, so I am very familiar with Glenn Chadbourne's creative illustrations.."The Dark Man" cover art is a brighter color than shown and the illustrations are all black ink and pencil drawings that are not only creepy, but the non-color adds an eerie element to the poem...You never get to see the "Dark Man's" face until the very end..The poem is spread a few words on each illustrated page to accompany it...But those who want to read this real dark, evil poetry can at the end in it's entirety..Then you will get the full effect and bring back some childhood memories of "Boogie Man" or looking under our bed before we went to sleep..

This is my interpretation of the illustrations after looking at them many times...Randall Flagg has walked the earth from the beginning of time, leaving behind a trail of death..Hidden deep within the illustrations, I have found subtle hints and dark images of Stephen King's other past novels, future mysteries, personality and his life's journey..Take time and really look at them..You might be surprised at what you find....

Great artistic collaboration..

(I believe if the illustrations were made colorful it would become a comic book then..Ultimately, losing it's serious, dark side)..
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2013
For nearly fifteen years, Stephen King has been mining his past to bring the world new stuff. In 2001, he gifted us with a continuation of his stalled 1980s project, The Plant. Blaze, a lost novel King wrote around the time of 'Salem's Lot, was finally published in 2007 as a Richard Bachman novel. Years after swearing that no new short story collection would include old works, King included a lost story from the 1970s, "The Cat From Hell," in his 2008 collection, Just After Sunset. Novel ideas King attempted and discarded in decades past emerged as 11/22/63, Joyland, and Under the Dome - the latter accompanied by an unprecedented online release of an early draft from the 80s. Recently, uncollected prose versions of two Creepshow stories - "The Crate" and "Weeds" (otherwise known as "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill") - have made their way into Shivers collections, published by Cemetery Dance.

Cemetery Dance is at it again, not with a story, but with a poem: "The Dark Man," one of the most important of King's career. Between 1969 and 1971, King published seven poems, on par with his short story output at the time ... then stopped. Almost none of those early poems have been included in King's official collections, which is especially mystifying, since work like "The Hardcase Speaks" and "The Dark Man" are direct thematic antecedents to later prose. "The Dark Man" is vital, as it serves as an introduction to one of King's most enduring villains: Randall Flagg.

In a 2004 interview with Borders Books, King explained:

"Flagg came to me when I wrote a poem called 'The Dark Man' when I was a junior or senior in college. It came to me out of nowhere, this guy in cowboy boots who moved around on the roads, mostly hitchhiking at night, always wore jeans and a denim jacket. I wrote this poem, and it was basically just a page long. I was in the college restaurant, only "restaurant" is too grand a word (it was like a grease pit basically). I wrote the poem on the back of a placemat. [T]hat idea of the guy never left my mind. The thing about him that really attracted me was the idea of the villain as somebody who was always on the outside looking in and hated people who had good fellowship and good conversation and friends. So, yeah, he was there, really, from the beginning of my writing career. He's always been around."

First published in King's college literary journal, the insouciantly named Ubris, "The Dark Man" has surfaced a few times, but never as part of King's official canon. Cemetery Dance has remedied this, with their surprise announcement of The Dark Man as a limited edition stand-alone book. Nestled in King's publication schedule between the outstanding Hard Case Crime novel, Joyland and the highly anticipated Doctor Sleep, The Dark Man is the perfect slice of summer darkness.

If a poem - even one as weighty and important to King's career as this one - seems a light prospect to hang a book on, be assured that the poem itself is only half the story. Artist Glenn Chadbourne has packed this thing with artwork, over seventy individual pieces designed to intrigue and unsettle. Those familiar with Cemetery Dance's The Secretary of Dreams know what they're in for. Chadbourne's thrilling illustrations aren't mere addendums to the text; instead, they transform the text. Sometimes he interprets King's words literally: the line "I forced a girl in a field of wheat / and left her sprawled with the virgin bread" streaks across apocalyptic drawings before landing on "a savage sacrifice," a terrifying Grand Guignol still life. Other drawings interpret. King's "psycho spheres of baptism" and "overhung mushroom sky" allow Chadbourne's imagination to run manic. The artist has done some incredible work in the past, but it's not overstatement to declare this his best effort to date. Stephen King was 22 when he wrote "The Dark Man," and its creation was compulsive. The drawings here capture that spirit and energy completely, and the result is as impressive as it is disturbing.

Stephen King has had a very long, very impressive mainstream career. Perhaps more than any other writer, he has been able to find inroads and pathways beyond his major success. He still publishes short stories in magazines, writes paperback exclusives for vintage press houses, and offers digital-only stories and essays you can only read on your iPad or Kindle. He's continued to publish limited editions, as well, concerned with not only the story but importance of the book-as-object, something to be marveled over and cared for. Cemetery Dance is releasing The Dark Man as a limited-edition hardcover, each version more sumptuous than the last. There's a 52-copy signed (King and Chadbourne) lettered edition in a traycase that comes with an original drawing by Chadbourne; a signed numbered, traycased edition of only 500 copies; a slipcased unsigned "gift" edition with a Dark Man drawing by Chadbourne that's not in the book; and a regular trade hardcover. All of them have different colors and perks like embossed endpapers, gilt page edges, satin bookmarks, the works: everything you expect with a Cemetery Dance edition. In every version, King's poem is printed, unadorned, at the end of the book.

For those interested in King's career beyond the bestsellers, especially in the unpublished and uncollected work of his early career, The Dark Man is a treat. Opening to the copyright page and seeing "© 1969 by Stephen King" is mind-blowing; that's four years before Carrie made her big splash. It's good for King scholars, too: "The Dark Man" was the genesis of "Night Surf," The Stand, Eyes of the Dragon, and the latter books of the Dark Tower series; theses could be written on how this little poem exploded into a career of vast proportions.

But, and this is important: it's also just a damn fine poem. When it comes down to it, the work itself is always the most important aspect. It's good work. Exciting work. No comforting rhymes. No shards of light. It's the direct precursor to "Paranoid," King's most disturbing collected poem to date. You don't have to be a collector or a poetry major to love The Dark Man. You just have to like being scared.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2013
'The Dark Man' is a poem that Stephen King wrote on the back of a placemat in a college restaurant. It served as the genesis for Randall Flagg, one of King's greatest villains, who would go on to appear in 'The Stand' and other subsequent works. Needless to say, it's an important piece of King's early career but up until now it has been largely unavailable to the general public.

What is this book exactly? Well, it's King's original poem spread out over 70 pages with black and white illustrations by horror artist Glenn Chadbourne. Of course, something like this isn't for everyone; it's really intended for a niche audience, which is why it's being printed by an independent horror publisher (Cemetery Dance) as opposed to one of the major ones like Scribner. That being said, I have to point out that a number of the negative reviews on Amazon are from people who didn't know what the book was ahead of time and were upset to find out that the book is "just" a poem or that it's not in color, etc and claiming that this is a big ruse to steal your money. The reality is, this was announced both by the publisher and on Stephen King's website months before its release and it was advertised as exactly what it was. Complaining that it's exactly what the publisher said it would be, to me at least, is like renting a foreign film from Blockbuster and getting upset that it's not in English.

If you're a hardcore "Constant Reader", you probably don't need much to sell you on this. For the rest of us, is it worth getting?

The poem by itself is pretty short and admittedly hard for me to review as poetry is not my strong suit. Still, it's filled with striking imagery such as "where a gutted columned house / leeched with vines /speaks to an overhung mushroom sky" and there's an appropriate sense of darkness permeating throughout. As others have said, the structure of the poem in the book is effectively 'broken' as lines are sometimes split and spread across multiple pages so this may be an issue for some. Still, the poem is presented by itself at the end of the book in its original format so you can read it as King initially wrote it.

The main selling point of this book, however, are the illustrations from Glenn Chadbourne. Chadbourne's style of art is really an acquired taste and not for everyone. In my opinion, though, it benefits 'The Dark Man' extremely well. The imagery here is extremely effective from the 'dark man' himself, whose face is always hidden in shadow, to the decaying landscape that he travels across. Given the metaphysical nature of King's poem, these images also enhance the writing and in some cases give a better sense of what it may mean. The black and white art is extremely detailed and you'll likely find yourself going back and discovering new elements that you previously missed.

Again, this isn't for everyone and as such I can't blindly recommend it like I would with King's other work. King's early poetry probably appeals to a small section of his audience and Chadbourne's artwork will likely garner diverse reactions. As such, I recommend that you do some research before purchasing to see if it's for you. I, however, find it to be an effective presentation of King's poetry and a welcome reintroduction to one of his most iconic characters.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2013
This is NOT a novel, let me please preface with that. I don't want people coming on here and complaining. This is an art book, with a poem entranced within. The art by Glenn Chadbourne is very well done, in wonderful black and white pencil/pen. The poem is good, from early King in 1969, and is the starting point of Randall Flagg himself (a character seen throughout King's novels as all that is evil).

I would say this isn't for everyone, but if you appreciate this style of art, I would definitely pick it up for your collection. Very well done by Cemetery Dance.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2013
I won an Advance Review Copy from Cemetery Dance for entering a contest related to this book.

The brief poem written early on by King is very quick and fun read. The best part of the production of this, is the art work by Glen Chadbourne. There is fantastic artwork that tells the story on it's own. One review I saw, was complaining about the artwork as being subpar. Is it perfect, no, probably not, but Chadbourne is a very respected artist in horror, and he does a wonderful job of helping to sell King's story on a visual level. Combine the two and you have a homerun from one of the best story tellers, artists, and publishers in the horror genre.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2013
As a long time Stephen King fan, I had to pick this up when I saw it. It was interesting, and the illustrations went well with the poem. I do think it could definitely be cheaper for how much actual book there is.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2013
The artwork in this book is great and has parts of the poem spliced into the images. This makes it hard to read the poem and follow the art. The book would also greatly benefit from being sized larger.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2013
It has taken me several days to decide exactly how to review this book. I have been a Stephen King fan since high school. I have enjoyed reading and rereading many of his books, including the Dark Tower collection. One of my favorite parts, was discovering cameos of loved characters in other stories. (Especially Richie and Beverly in 12/22/63. Beep Beep Richie!!!). Alone, I was not as impressed with written poem "The Dark Man." I enjoyed reading the poem, as an origin of Randall Flagg, but in reality it was fairly forgettable. With Glen Chadbourne's illustrations, however the story comes alive. I recognize elements of numerous Stephen King novels within his pen and ink drawings. Is the the "Black House" on the cover? Do I see Blaine on the pages? What about the cornfields? It is evident that Glenn is a true fan. Seeing elements from the stories that I've loved since I was a kid brings true meaning to King's poem. Together with the images, it is no longer forgettable
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2013
This book is amazing. I have been reading Stephen King for many many years. I've always loved his books & I was always able to escape reality while reading. Whenever I read, I visualize what I'm reading.

This book is even better, because I was able to see someone else's visions of Mr. King's words. Some of these visions were what I expected to be there. Others took my breath away, because it was so different from what I had visualized.

I had not realized that the book was a poem and that was a new way to read Stephen King for me.

Both of the men involved in the making of the book have done a tremendous job.

Even if you are not a horror fan, this book can be for you. My daughter will not read Mr. King's work, but I had her read & discuss this book with me. She agreed that each by themselves was good, but that together the book is phenomenal.

Both of us would strongly recommend this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2013
I loved the poem. It was pure vintage King. I wasn't impressed so much with the art work, but it was well-done, just not my style. I would recommend it to all King fans.
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