TALISMAN BOOK 1: THE ROAD OF TRIALS by Stephen King, Peter Straub, Robin Furth, and Tony Shasteen
I was an on-again, off-again Stephen King fan back in my twenties. I loved Dead Zone and ‘Salem’s Lot, enjoyed Christine and Firestarter okay, but got turned off by some of his later books. While I was working at a fast food company and trying to get my own writing off the ground, I ended up swapping books with one of the cooks that read a lot. I turned him on to Robert B. Parker, and he lent me a copy of The Talisman. I have to admit, I got swept up in Jack Sawyer’s world and read the novel at a blistering pace. I was really disappointed when a sequel wasn’t immediately in the offing. Then, later, I was even more disappointed in the sequel. I hear there’s a third book coming, and I hope it measures up to this first book.
When I first heard about The Talisman being adapted into graphic novels, I didn’t know how it would go. Comics readers seemed to welcome The Stand and The Dark Tower as graphic novels. I saw The Talisman at my local library and picked it up. It has been years since I read the novel, but my memory of the story is as strong as ever.
I love the idea of the real world and the Territories, of a fantasy realm where everybody had Twinners, duplicates that essentially were the same person in both worlds. Except for Jack Sawyer, whose Twinner was the prince of the realm and the threat to the villain, his evil uncle Morgan.
The name Jack is given at the beginning of the book, Travellin Jack, is just awesome in its simplicity. In the audio book, fans get treated to a sequel of sorts. We get to see Jack’s dad, Philip, in action before Jack gets involved in trying to find a way to save his mom from her sickness. In the Territories, the Queen lies dying as well.
I liked the way the old characters from the novel are presented visually. Tony Shasteen’s are is gripping and evocative, shifting easily from the real world to the fantasy realm of the Territories. The colors are bright and vibrant and feel like movie stills as I flipped through the pages.
The way the novel and the graphic novel open at the amusement park is just brilliant. There, in those faded gaudy colors, you know that everything was once possible, and – after a miracle, a coat of paint – might be again. That’s true of both Jack’s worlds.
The action and story is broken down really well across the pages. I don’t know if we have the writer (Robin Furth) for the spacing or if that’s just Shasteen. In either case, it wouldn’t work if writer and artist weren’t on the same page. Literally.
I’m looking forward to more installments of the story. The tale of Travellin Jack out to save his mother and stay one step ahead of a murderous uncle is just prime storytelling. The generation that loves Harry Potter and Percy Jackson would probably embrace Travellin Jack just as heartily. All of these characters are cut from the same cloth, and all of them have to find the strength to fight the greatest of battles that are in worlds removed from our own.