News From The Dead Zone #1

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Welcome to the first installment of the web version of News from the Dead Zone. Those of you who read Cemetery Dance magazine know that I’ve been publishing a column in every issue for nearly five years now. However, because of the magazine’s publication schedule, getting timely information out has been a little problematic. With the relaunch of their web site, the good folks at CD suggested doing an online “lite” version of my column. The magazine version will continue, focusing more on in-depth analysis, review and commentary than on breaking news.

Up top, you’ll always find a handy-dandy calendar of important, upcoming dates so you can see at a glance what’s on the horizon. Then I’ll expand briefly on each item as news is announced. Then follow up in the next issue of CD magazine for more details and commentary.

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The next book due out from King is called Cell, which will be published on January 24th, 2006. Here is the description from the publisher as posted to the Barnes & Noble web site.

Civilization doesn’t end with a bang or a whimper. It ends with a call on your cell phone.

What happens on the afternoon of October 1 came to be known as the Pulse, a signal sent though every operating cell phone that turns its user into something . . . well, something less than human. Savage, murderous, unthinking-and on a wanton rampage. Terrorist act? Cyber prank gone haywire? It really doesn’t matter, not to the people who avoided the technological attack. What matters to them is surviving the aftermath. Before long a band of them-“normies” is how they think of themselves-have gathered on the grounds of Gaiten Academy, where the headmaster and one remaining student have something awesome and terrifying to show them on the school’s moonlit soccer field. Clearly there can be no escape. The only option is to take them on.

Cell is classic Stephen King, a story of gory horror and white-knuckling suspense that makes the unimaginable entirely plausible and totally fascinating.

I should have a review for you in the next issue, but let me just say that this book is sure to inspire some interesting discussions, with comparisons to classic books like The Stand and darker tales like The Regulators. King describes the book as “like cheap whisky . . . very nasty and extremely satisfying.” I find it interesting that the main character in Cell is a graphic novel artist who has just sold his first major project, given the recent announcement of a graphic novel Dark Tower series (see below).

When you read the book, look out for a character named Ray Huizenga. His sister paid $25,100 in an eBay charity auction of character names benefiting the First Amendment Project. The real-life Huizenga is a fishing captain and longtime King fan, but is also the son of the owner of the Miami Dolphins. Huizenga beat out another strong bidder who was willing to take out a credit line on his house for the honor of having a character in Cell named after him.

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The Dark Tower fan community was recently thrilled to learn that Marvel comics was planning to release a series of graphic novels based on untold Dark Tower stories. Originally planned for a May 2006 release, a recent memo on King’s web site revealed a new schedule for this project.

Stephen and Marvel have decided to push back the launch of the Dark Tower comic books to 2007. “Given the size of the project and all the creative talent involved, I want to give the Marvel series all the room to breathe it needs and deserves,” said Stephen. “I’ve got so much else going on in 2006-two novels coming out, Cell and Lisey’s Story, and the work with John Mellencamp on ‘Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.’ The Marvel series is going to be a blast, and I want to have the time to enjoy it.”

The 1st issue of the yet-to-be-named first arc of the Dark Tower comic series will be shipping in February 2007. The last issue of this six-issue series will be shipping in July 2007. The first hardcover collection will be shipping in October 2007.

Though original reports billed this project as The Dark Tower 8, in truth the stories will fill in some of the gaps in Roland’s early history, in the era covering the trip to Mejis and the final battle at Jericho Hill, “new stories that delve into the life and times of the young Roland, revealing the trials and conflicts that lead to the burden of destiny he must assume as a man.”

Jae Lee is the illustrator who will bring King’s stories to life, and the colorist is Richard Isanove. The complete number of series has not been announced, but there may be as many as six different stories.


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A stellar cast has been announced for the eight-part series Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King that will debut on TNT next June. Despite the show’s name, the stories actually come from several King collections. The eight stories being adapted are:

  • Umney’s Last Case
  • You Know They Got a Hell of a Band
  • The End of the Whole Mess
  • The Fifth Quarter
  • The Road Virus Heads North
  • Battleground
  • Crouch End
  • Autopsy Room Four

Though originally scheduled to be part of the series, Mick Garris’s adaptation of “Home Delivery” was shelved due to schedule changes for the series and his commitment to the Masters of Horror series on Showtime, which was recently renewed for a second season.

Among the cast members announced for the series are Steven Weber, Kim Delaney, William H. Macy, Henry Thomas, Tom Berenger, Marsha Mason, William Hurt and two actresses familiar from the recent ‘Salem’s Lot remake, Samantha Mathis and Rebecca Gibney. Richard Christian Matheson adapted “Battleground” and Lawrence M. Cohen (Carrie) penned “The End of the Whole Mess.” The show will run one episode per week during the summer months of 2006 starting with “Umney’s Last Case”—one of my favorite short stories—which will reportedly run without commercials. Filming is currently taking place in and around Sydney, Australia. An upcoming issue of Fangoria will feature a visit to the set.

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King and his collaborator John Mellencamp got together in November to continue their work on a musical production about death and reconciliation called “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.” A member of The Dark Tower dot Net forum helped crew the latest reading. A self-admitted skeptic when he first heard about this project, he reported that the music is fantastic, the cast was great and, though there is still work to be done, he says it will be a worthwhile endeavor.

Mellencamp reports that the guys who did “Spamalot” are now involved, which may make the final stages of development “less hectic.” King’s story involves two brothers who dislike each other immensely. Their father takes them to their family vacation cabin, where, a generation before them, the father’s two older brothers killed each other in a similar sibling rivalry.

“There’s a confederacy of ghosts who also live in this house,” Mellencamp told Billboard. “The older (dead) brothers are there, and they speak to the audience, and they sing to the audience. That’s all I want to say, except through this family vacation, many things are learned about the family, and many interesting songs are sung.”

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Quick Notes:

  • CD’s very own Rich Chizmar co-scripted an adaptation of From a Buick 8 that is currently attached to George Romero as director, who also has the film rights to The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. However, recent reports hint that Romero may tackle another zombie feature before working on either of these King adaptations.
  • Galleys of Stephen King: Uncollected and Unpublished by Rocky Wood (The Complete Guide to the Works of Stephen King) are in distribution, so the book can’t be far behind. I’ve started perusing my copy and am impressed by the amount of information and detail contained in this volume. In addition to containing the first appearances of some very rare King works (a poem, and a chapter from the early novel Sword in the Darkness), the book highlights the various appearances of rare King stories and indicates the ones that were substantially revised for later publication. Makes me want to go back to some of the earlier appearances to refresh my memory of what the stories were like in their original incarnations.
  • A new King project called The Secretary of Dreams was announced recently. Stay tuned to the CD web page for more details very shortly. This one is very cool!

Have news, information, corrections? E-mail me!