The Talisman #1
Based on the novel by Stephen King & Peter Straub
Comic script by Robin Furth
Penciled and Inked by Tony Shasteen
Colored by Nei Ruffino
Lettered by Bill Tortolini
Published by Del Rey
Many, many years ago, I read this novel, but at this point, any vestigial memories of the experience are sufficiently withered away that I came to the comic with no expectations or preconceptions. This debut issue focuses on young Jack Sawyer, as his notions of the world are stripped away and his importance explained by the janitorial Speedy Parker.
The issue works pretty effectively, I suppose. The script moves quickly through its points, and the art is effective – slightly over-rendered and tries too hard at times to be spooky, but there are some solid panels and the storytelling is easy to read. I’ve always hated reviewing (and reading, really) serialized comics, because it’s nearly impossible to tell you, my theoretical reader, anything real about The Talisman from this issue. Nearly the entire twenty-five pages seen here is exposition. Buckets of back story, the ground rules of The Talisman’s reality, are heaped on the reader, as Speedy Parker talks and talks and talks to Jack about his mother and twinners.
Now, honestly, Furth, working from King and Straub’s dialogue and narration, does a solid job laying down this theorizing. It’s still all groundwork and does little to move any story, however.
Most perplexing about this issue is its existence. Del Rey’s been putting out some interesting book length comics, from the Dabel Brothers stuff to a range of manga. Serialized, monthly comics, however, haven’t really been in their business model, and really, why should it be? Yeah, a lot of people love the serial form, but what’s the benefit here? Most of us recognize that it’s a dying format. Digital serialization, okay, I can see it.
Stephen King and Peter Straub bring massive fan bases to this project, an audience that (The Green Mile excepted) isn’t geared toward reading in this form. I’m sure that, with those dedicated readers, The Talisman will probably succeed as a serial, but I still don’t see much point to it either. I’m sure it’s much more convenient for most of those same fans to go to their local bookstore, or to Amazon or wherever, and buy the entire comic in one bulk shot.
Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps there’s a stupidly huge market for a monthly The Talisman series. If there is, I hope readers will be patient and give the story time to develop, because there’s a suggestion of something interesting in this first issue. Only time, and more issues, will tell if that suggestion becomes an actuality.