We are living in the age of the image. Images are imprinted, wrote George Steiner, the philosopher and literary critic, almost in the manner of genetic information, on our sensibility. Think of our remembrance of history and of the great books we've read and what remains most vivid? Images: images of Caesar being stabbed in the Senate Forum, Socrates drinking his cup of hemlock, Hamlet pacing with poor Yorik's skull in he palm of his hand -his father's ghost swirling at the ramparts, Christ on the Cross, Hitler's manic raging speeches, Churchill strolling jut-jawed through the ruin's of the Battle of Britain, troops landing at the beaches of Normandy, the planes crashing into the Twin Towers.
The first "novels" were the ancient stories-our mythology- written in the the stars, on the cave walls of Lascaux and the on the city walls of ancient Greece and Rome in a highly visual "pre-literate" age when man had internalized the cosmos.
The ascendancy of the digital image delivered ubiquitously in our cities of bits— predicted by Steiner, in 1971, in his book In Bluebeard’s Castle — has begun to overwhelm and diminish the power of the word. The "agnostic" screen fills our daily lives through television, cinema, cell phone, and computers.
The graphical user interface merges and mixes the image and word and has paved the way for evolution of the graphic novel as a major art form. Graphical novels such as Frank Miller's epic graphical saga, "300," now a feature 3-D film about the ancient Battle of Thermopylae to Stephen King's standard novel form, the Dark Tower, which has been adopted as a comic book series, are field events signaling the ascendancy and power of the image.
The highly stylized 300 tells the story of 300 Spartans lead by their King, Leonidas, into the face of an insurmountable invasion at the hands of a million-man Persian army. Despite a lack of support from the Spartan council and a group of elders who communicate with the Gods via a half naked teenage girl, Leonidas decides that rather than allow his nation to be conquered into slavery, he must take his best warriors, the Spartan elite, and do what he can to fend off the impending invasion.
Book to graphical novel, graphical novel to film, are I believe pointing to an evolution, a new art form that will evolve from an age of collaboration based on wikis (the city walls of ancient Rome), where text and image opened to universal worldwide collaborations that are mixed and mashed up to create transformative animated 3-D films and graphical novels that rival Hogarth's seminal 18th century works in historical importance.
Jae Lee has likened transforming Dark Tower into a graphical series to a "director's cut of a movie" -
except the extra scenes have not been written by King but by the graphic artists and the writers, Peter David and Robin Furth. King's title on the comic book series - planned in seven parts- is creative and executive director.
Dark Tower, which features a heroic gunslinger called Roland Deschain who follows a quest to find a mysterious figure called the Man in Black and thence the even more mysterious dark tower of the title, is an example of the way other artists have taken King's ideas and stories and turned them into something more memorable than the original - Brian DePalma's adaptation of Carrie and Stanley Kubrick's The Shining being two obvious instances.
"It's a little like a tour of your own imagination," King said in a recent interview. "A different way to tell stories is always exciting. It's like being a kid with a chemistry set." King wrote the final instalment of the Dark Tower book series at a particularly low ebb in his own life, when he was hit by car while walking down a road in his home town of Lovell, Maine,in 1999.
The modern illustrated story was born in the 19th century, with comic strips appearing in both Britain and America that were, frequently, turned into books. In the 1920s, a francophone version appeared in the form of bande dessinée , best known to us via The Adventures of Tintin and Asterix. In the East, the Japanese manga tradition goes back to the 18th century. Original post by Casey Kazan.
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