"Orbit: Stephen King" Comic Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
Published by Bluewater Comics
Written by Michael Lent & Brian McCarthy
Illustrated by Kent Hurlburt
$3.99, 32 Pages
Released on June 7th, 2011
It's hard to think of an author that is more synonymous with the horror genre than Stephen King. While you can argue about specific works, you cannot deny his literary contributions. As such, it's no surprise that he's the subject of a biography comic from Bluewater Productions. I'm just amazed it took so long. Unlike other recent bio books, this one actually had the assistance of its subject. King helped recount various aspects of his life as they're captured here in comic form.
Orbit uses King's encounter with a minivan in 1999 as a book-end for the piece. It's without a doubt a traumatic event in the author's life. We're then taken through a brief recap of his life from a child, through school, his first forays into writing, college, and selling his first novel. With the exception of the tale featuring the death of a childhood friend on a train track, all of this material is covered in far greater detail in King's 2000 book, On Writing.
Kent Hurlburt's art provides a cartoony, upbeat feel to the entire story. This works great in some places where it's clear that King's imagination is running away from him, but seems a little out of place in others such as the funeral for King's mother. The characters all have dark outlines that make them pop off the page. I can see how Hurlburt's style translating easily into an animation of some kind but I'm not sure it's a great fit for a bio comic.
There are a handful of issues with the writing though. There are some sentences that don't make sense because it looks like there are words missing. For example when talking about the sale of King's first novel Carrie, the caption reads "Only give up on the concept, despite his prolific production..." I think the word "to" is missing between "Only" and "give." This is just one example, but there are a few others. This is a sign of lazy editing and is something that should have been caught if not by the letterer than at least by the people responsible for proof-reading the book.
Orbit: Stephen King is a great comic for a casual fan of this horror icon. If you were even somewhat interested in the life of King then you would enjoy this. However, if you're a more hardcore fan, I'd recommend picking up On Writing as that provides a lot more information on the author. One suggestion I'd have for Bluewater though is that they might want to reconsider the title "Orbit." When mentioning this book to a couple people online they thought I had written "Obit" and were very concerned that Stephen King had died.
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