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Review: Sleeping Beauties Vol. 1

Sleeping Beauties Vol. 1

Margaret Atwood is one of those writers who can both spellbind you and terrify you at the very same time. Her prose feels so voyeuristic, you feel kind of guilty even reading one of her powerful tomes. For the world seems to mostly have found The Handmaid’s Tale, through the TV series, it only sees a sliver of her genius. The connecting theme amongst her books, among many, is the breadth of a woman’s agency in the world.

As she has written books in several different timelines, evoking a woman’s struggles much in the way Philippa Gregory does in her books. It is her narrative that compels you to look but cringe in ways you could never imagine. The reality is, even though she writes fiction, does not mean, she doesn’t tell truth. In Stephen King and Owen King’s graphic novel adaptation of their hit book, Sleeping Beauties, we get a grim dystopia, much what Atwood, writes where one woman becomes an outlier.

We are taken to a future where a malady has made a lot of the female population to fall asleep because of a disease called Aurora, except one, who says her name is Eve and who lives in the woods by a town called Dooling. As she awakens and wanders, we find the town has a penitentiary and has its own share of troubles, as she happens upon a house, and kills all the men who live there. Meanwhile, even more cases start popping all across the world, the most prominent in Australia, as the town starts getting flooded by everything natural including insects and animals become suddenly supernatural, a seeming harbinger of worst things to come. The sheriff eventually arrest Eve and brings her to the prison, where things on the outside only get worse, riots escalate, and increasingly, women all around the world including Dooling unconsciously turn into homicidal killers, attacking men everywhere. Eventually, militias rise up, blowtorching any trace of Aurora, even if it means lives. BY volume’s end, Eve reveals she is immune and can end all the chaos while some desperate locals look to end things by their own means.

Overall, Sleeping Beauties Vol. 1 is an impressive story that has echoes of the panic that has occurred during our pandemic but reveals a much grimmer future. The story by the Kings is truly rapturous. The art of the creative team is awe-inspiring. The adaptation is some of the best work I have seen in a long time. Altogether, this adaptation of this modern classic is a game-changer.

Story: Stephen King and Owen King Adaptation: Rio Youers
Art: Alison Sampson, Annie Wu,  Jenn Woodall Christa Miesner, Valerie Lopez, and Triona Tree  Farrell
Story: 10 Adaptation: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleBookshop

Preview: Sleeping Beauties #6

Sleeping Beauties #6

(W) Rio Youers (A) Alison Sampson (CA) Bex Glendining
In Shops: May 05, 2021
SRP: $3.99

Based on the horror novel by Stephen King and Owen King and adapted by Rio Youers (The Forgotten Girl) and Alison Sampson ( Hit Girl, Winnebago Graveyard)!

A strange sleeping sickness, known as Aurora, has fallen over the world, and strangest of all, it only affects women. In the small town of Dooling, a mysterious woman has walked out of the woods; she calls herself Eve and leaves a trail of carnage behind her. More mysterious: she’s the only woman not falling asleep.

Sleeping Beauties #6

Preview: Sleeping Beauties Vol. 1

Sleeping Beauties Vol. 1

(W) Stephen King, Owen King, Rio Youers (A) Alison Sampson (CA) Jenn Woodall
In Shops: May 05, 2021
SRP: $19.99

This official graphic novel adaptation of the horror novel by Stephen King and Owen King is a haunting interpretation of the chilling, timely bestseller.

A bizarre sleeping sickness, called Aurora, has fallen over the world. Its victims can’t wake up. And all of them are women.

As nations fall into chaos, those women still awake take desperate measures to stay that way, and men everywhere begin to give in to their darkest impulses.

Meanwhile, in the small town of Dooling, a mysterious woman has walked out of the woods; she calls herself Eve and leaves a trail of carnage in her wake. Strangest of all, she’s the only woman who can wake up.

Collects issues #1-5.

Sleeping Beauties Vol. 1

Sleeping Beauties Vol. 1 is the first of two full-color hardcover graphic novels based on Stephen King and Owen King’s Novel

The dreams and nightmarish realities of Stephen King and Owen King’s bestselling novel captivate in IDW‘s upcoming Sleeping Beauties Vol. 1, the first of two full-color hardcover graphic novels courtesy of author Rio Youers, artist Alison Sampson, and colorist Triona Tree Farrell, releasing April 20th.

Sleeping Beauties Vol. 1 imagines a world where women have sunken into a deep, cocooned slumber, their dreams taking them to an idyllic other place. They can only wake if disturbed, which results in violent, feral behavior. Meanwhile, the men have inherited the Earth, their society devolving in to barbarism. Provocative and absorbing, Sleeping Beauties is a gripping dark fantasy of gender dynamics, individuality, and toxic masculinity.

The Creepshow Animated Special is a fun Halloween watch covered in gore

Outside of manga, animated horror films or specials are few and far in between, which is why Shudder’s announcement that Creepshow series was going to give animation a shot for Halloween was so surprising. And yet, perhaps this shouldn’t have surprised us that much. The Stephen King, George Romero, and Bernie Wrightson creation did come into being as an homage to the EC horror comics that inspired them in the first place. Given the overlap between comics and animation, the visual language they share, it was quite simply the next logical step.

Thankfully, the Creepshow Animated Special delivers in this form, presenting a pair of violent and clever stories that adapt stories written by Stephen King and Joe Hill. Each story runs for about 20 minutes and wastes no time getting to the bloody bits, taking care of not leaving the plot and character development out to dry. They transition well into the show’s pastiche-driven interests.

Creepshow Animated Special
Shudder

A word on the animation, though. The special is presented in a motion comic style of animation (as previously seen in the Watchmen motion comics that came out almost in conjunction with Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the classic comic). There’s motion on-screen but not to the extent one might be expecting. It’s not the most sophisticated or intricate of styles out there, but director Greg Nicotero squeezes as much as he can out of it to great effect.

The first story comes from the mind of Stephen King and it’s called “Survivor Type,” about a man stranded on an island with the body of a dead woman after their ship sinks. The second one is called “Tweetering from the Circus of the Dead” and is adapted from a Joe Hill story. This one focuses on a teenager that gives a play-by-play Twitter account of the terrifying happenings that take place inside a sadistic circus.

Both stories are twisted enough to make for great visual adaptations. “Survivor Type” is a very bright story where every instance of terror is highly visible and in full color. It feels like an EC tale in that it’s gauche and grisly sense of violence dials up the blood and gore to its highest setting. “Tweetering from the Circus of the Dead” follows along the same lines but plays around with a darker color palette. Still, the carnage is allowed to display the full gamut of colors that comes with dismemberments and bloodletting fans of the exploitation will certainly appreciate.

Creepshow Animated Special
Shudder

All of this would’ve been in vain had the voice actors for each story failed to rise to the occasion. Fortunately, they do. The main character of “Survivor Type” is played by Keifer Sutherland and his performance perfectly captures the man’s egotistical and immoral spirit, imbuing his backstory with the necessary roughness required to make the landing.

Hill’s story is performed by Joey King (The Kissing Booth, Slenderman) and while her part isn’t as fine-tuned as Sutherland’s, she still manages to capture the sounds of a social media obsessed teen. What stands out in King’s segment is how her character’s sarcasm shifts into outright horror and shock as the story progresses. King gets to explore different aspect of her voiceover skills and it helps maintain a good sense of urgency as the character tweets about gory acts and dead things.

The animated approach for this special does achieve another thing that is worthy of note. It more closely resembles the comic book look both the original movie and series managed to capture on-screen. It fits well with the spirit of Creepshow and it is nice to see that connection make it through.

Creepshow Animated Special
Shudder

Speaking comics, Eric Powell (creator of The Goon) designed the creatures that feature in Joe Hill’s segment. This gives the story and even more present comic book feel and further cements the relationship between both mediums. Each creature is a treat to see shamble on-screen and they deserve to be explored closer to appreciate all the details Powell managed to squeeze into them.

The Creepshow Animated Special was a pleasant surprise that made me want to see more of these horror motion comic animations in the future. That might already be in the works as the final images of the special seem to hint at a Christmas offering. Consult with whatever dark forces are available to you to make sure we get more of these stories in the very, very near future.

Preview: Sleeping Beauties #1 (of 10)

Sleeping Beauties #1 (of 10)

(W) Rio Youers (A) Alison Sampson (CA) Annie Wu
In Shops: Jun 24, 2020
SRP: $3.99

Based on the horror novel by Stephen and Owen King and adapted by Rio Youers (The Forgotten Girl) and Alison Sampson (Hit Girl, Winnebago Graveyard)! With A covers by Annie Wu (Black Canary, Hawkeye)!

A strange sleeping sickness, known as Aurora, has fallen over the world, and strangest of all, it only affects women. In the small town of Dooling, a mysterious woman has walked out of the woods; she calls herself Eve and leaves a trail of carnage behind her. More mysterious: she’s the only woman not falling asleep.

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: House of Cards

House of Cards,” the second in the graphic novel series adaptation of Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three is set to be released April 21 by Gallery 13.

Originally published by Marvel, the series was overseen by Stephen King. The series is written by King, Robin Furth, and Peter David and features art by Piotr Kowalski and Nick Filardi.

Purchase: AmazonKindle

The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three House of Cards

Underrated: Road Rage

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  Road Rage



road rageRoad Ragepublished by IDW is an adaptation of Stephen King and Joe Hill‘s Throttle and Richard Matheson‘s Duel by writer Chris Ryall and artists Nelson Daniel (on Throttle) and Rafa Garres (on Duel).

Despite the collected edition of Road Rage containing two versions of essentially the same story; King and Hill’s story in this trade is itself an adaptation of Matheson’s original short story, making the two issue comic an adaptation of an adaptation – which is an interesting choice for a collection. But if you’re expecting to read the same story twice, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised. King and  Hill’s story focuses on a group of bikers who end up running afoul of the deadly truck, where as Matheson’s features a lone salesman desperately trying to avoid a different truck in his car. The two stories are linked by the deadly truck, but are ultimately different enough that you shouldn’t feel short changed should you happen to pick this book up.

When it comes to the quality or faithfulness of the adaptations to the original stories, well that’s not something I can comment on as I have never read the text-only stories. However, I did really enjoy both comic stories as they were presented; Ryall’s comic scripts, presumably, more than does justice to the source material as he’s able to effectively convey the tense horror and suspense of both Throttle and Duel (the latter feels more like a horror story for me than the more action tinged former), though a portion of the credit should also be given to the artists. Garras work on Duel veers between the mundane daily life of a salesman driving to the pants wetting terror and desperation to stay alive. The more afraid the protagonist becomes, the more distorted the art feels – it’s a brilliant and investing touch to the story that effectively builds upon the tensions of the script.

The collection is a great taste of horror tinged comic books, and one that despite the high profile genre names connected to the comics I had never heard of before I spotted it at the used section of my LCS. It’s the subject of today’s column because it was a fantastic read, remarkably tense and quite exhilarating. If you get the chance to read the collection or the four issues collected within, then do so. You’ll find an Underrated gem.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

The Dark Tower Returns to Comics Courtesy of Gallery 13

Gallery 13 will publish eleven books based on Stephen King’s bestselling series The Dark Tower. Gallery 13 is the graphic novel imprint of Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster,

Originally published to widespread acclaim by Marvel Comics, the acquisition of publishing rights includes eleven official graphic novels as part of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower—five prequel works focusing on Roland Deschain of Gilead’s coming-of-age and told in chronological order, now officially titled BeginningsThe Gunslinger Born (Book #1), The Long Road Home (Book #2), Treachery (Book #3), The Fall of Gilead (Book #4), The Battle of Jericho Hill (Book #5); AND the six-part comic adaptation of the 1982 bestselling novel The GunslingerThe Journey Begins (Book #1), The Little Sisters of Eluria (Book #2), The Battle of Tull (Book #3), The Way Station (Book #4),The Man in Black (Book #5), and Last Shots (Book #6).

Creatively overseen by Stephen King himself, these official graphic novels are beautifully illustrated by Eisner Award winning artist Jae Lee and Quill Award-winning artist Richard Isanove, plotted by longtime Dark Tower expert Robin Furth, and scripted by New York Times bestselling author Peter David—ultimately serving as the perfect introduction to Stephen King’s modern literary classic The Dark Tower for new readers, and giving longtime fans thrilling adventures merely hinted at in his blockbuster novels.

Gallery 13 will be publishing the Beginnings prequel graphic novels every two weeks starting with The Gunslinger Born on August 14, 2018. The Gunslinger novel adaptation will publish in Spring 2019.

Movie Review: IT

IT posterContent Warning / Trigger Warning: Sewer Clowns.

The new adaptation of Stephen King‘s It starring Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the Clown is one of the best scary movies in a long time and even puts itself in the running for one of the best adaptations of King’s work. It’s scary. It’s funny. It’s nostalgic. But most of all, it keeps the focus where it should be — on the kids who call themselves “The Losers Club” — to deliver a poignant, touching story about growing up, loss, fear, and grief. And on top of that, it’s just a great scary movie.

But it’s not just a scary movie. Most surprising is just how funny it is at times. The Losers Club talk more like the kids from South Park (and therefore like your average 13 year old) and the humor helps cut the tension in important ways.

And yes, the film is scary. And not just in the easy-jump-scare-loud-noise scare we’ve become accustomed to. Since the monster feeds on fears, we see supremely disturbing and scary images brought to life. This is layered on top of super-creepy atmosphere that lurks under the idyllic charms of small town pastiche.

Director Andy Muschietti understands his craft and understands how to layer on the fright. Like any good magic trick, there’s the set up, suspense building, and the big reveal.

And the big reveal here is the film’s Pennywise the Clown. While they certainly show plenty of Pennywise in the film, they definitely take a less-is-more approach with him. Bill Skarsgård is fantastic. He’s taking as much of a page from Heath Ledger’s Joker (and Mark Hamill’s Joker) as he is from Tim Curry’s portrayal, and the results are creepy and intense.

The less-is-more approach with Pennywise means the focus ends up back where it belongs: the kids. And these kids are fantastic. Jaeden Lieberher (St. Vincent, Midnight Special) gets top billing as Bill, whose brother George is the first victim in the film. Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) is another familiar face who is no stranger to the nostalgia-laden horror story. But here he really gets to break loose as the kid with the dirtiest mouth and dirtiest mind, giving breath to the unfettered id that it is to be a 13 year old boy.

But the best performance among them is from Sophia Lillis, the lone female in the Losers Club. She is both independent and strong, while also vulnerable and scared. With her home life as much of a hellscape as anything involving evil sewer clowns, she brings an extra layer of emotion beyond anything any of the boys do.

Gone are so many of the affectations and deep worldbuilding of King’s original story– and it’s for the better. There is no jumping back and forth between times and adult and child versions of the main characters. There is no greater mysticism, giant turtles or spiders, or mumbo-jumbo. There is (thankfully) no child orgy. By jettisoning so much of this and focusing on a simple monster vs. kids story, we get the distilled essence of what makes King’s story work in the first place.

Purists will definitely have a problem with this adaptation, but one way to approach this is that the film seems more inspired by other great Stephen King adaptations, like Stand By Me, and other classic 80’s kid-centric adventure movies like The Goonies, Space Camp, Flight of the Navigator, D.A.R.Y.L., Big, War Games, Weird Science, The Neverending Story, or Explorers than by the original source material. But, fear not– the film leaves itself wide open for the inevitable sequel, ostensibly the story of the adult versions of our characters. . . which would be set today.

The movie makes possibly the smartest choice of all in making this a period piece set in the 80’s. Not only does that allow for maximum nostalgia, but it also keeps the story simple. Without things like cell phones, social media, helicopter parenting, etc, it makes it normal for kids to be outside riding their bikes, exploring sewers, and swimming in quarries. Yes, it even has a “cleaning up” montage with a jaunty soundtrack (in this case The Cure’s “Six Different Ways” — a deep cut from one of their best and most under-recognized albums). There are also dozens of Easter Eggs throughout the movie, from the movies on the marquee of the local theater to posters the kids have on their walls. It’s enough to make any 80’s or 90’s kid’s heart flutter.

And this is, again, where the film draws smartly from things like Stand By Me. The same sort of childhood nostalgia for the 1950’s audiences had in the 80’s (see also Back to the Future) is what many audiences feel now. So of course it makes sense to update this and set the film in the 80’s.

It is not a perfect film. It suffers from a few convenient plot holes and contrivances, but no worse than your average Marvel movie. And despite wearing its heart on its sleeve when confronting fears and grief, it doesn’t feel like we’re treading any really new ground here. That could be because we’re talking about the adaptation of a thirty year old novel. Or it could be that any film that comes out in 2017, especially of the horror genre, is going to have to stack up against the social commentary and innovation of Get Out. 

So it’s not the rebirth of cool– so what? It’s still an incredibly fun flick that will make you spill your popcorn bucket in fright and make you nostalgic for 1989 and that awesome, scary, fun time of being 13. You’ll float, too.

4 out of 5 stars

Almost American
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