"Run-of-the-mill" seems like a modestly accurate way to describe myself in terms of horror fandom. In certain respects I find that valuable, since ideally I can make an appeal to those like myself, to those who may be testing the waters, and hopefully to the hardcore horror fans as well. (And I sincerely encourage feedback, especially from the latter.) It wasn't until several years ago, the present time of this writing being December of '09 to give perspective, that the genre genuinely appealed to me and I owe all that to the film adaptation of Stephen King's 'IT'. After that, it was a slow and steady progression that grew into watching more Stephen King film adaptations, then into watching general horror films. In more recent years it's branched from solely films into different mediums, namely: comics (comic books, manga, graphic novels, webcomics, etc.), purely written literature, and different games.

But let's get to the point, shall we? The Darkley Niche is something I've constructed after the comic-in-progress that a friend and myself plan on self-publishing, an anthology of short horror stories much in the same vein as 'Tales from the Crypt' and similar titles. The series centers around a faceless persona we've affectionately dubbed Alan Darkley, the Niche's namesake, and a cast of storytellers whose tales fall within particular subgenres and sister genres of horror. This site is the drawing board, if you will, where everything posted is either a form of research or a roughing out of ideas. It's all relevant in some fashion. By exploring these different horror stories and their mediums a better understanding and influence of the genre, as well as inspiration, can be put into the comic. Even if you have no personal interest in the project, perhaps you can glean something from the reviews and the like. And if nothing else, the Niche will work to serve my own purposes.

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Meet The Darkley Storytellers

Meet The Darkley Storytellers

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Well, here's yours truly. The name's Drew, in case you were wondering. The Niche is my personal site, while the comic-in-progress is a partnered effort with Don, a lifelong friend of mine. We collaborate on the stories, but my partner's the writer in the outfit while I am the illustrator. This is currently little more than a side project, but we hope to make something of it.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Stephen King's Cell

For those who are about to read their very first Stephen King novel, perhaps you're like myself and find that you approach this with an equal degree of anticipation and trepidation. Especially if you've watched many of the films inspired by his writings and have become a fan, even if it has undergone the filters of those who have adapted it for the screen. Will the written works be anything like these, for better or for worse? Maybe the biggest dilemma in this anxiety is choosing exactly which novel to read from the breadth of King's extensive bibliography.

Do you start from the beginning, with Carrie? It seems like the sensible thing to do, to read the earliest writings and work onward from there. However, and I may receive some flack for this, I never took much of a shining to its story. So 'Salem's Lot, then? Later perhaps, but what I realized by then was that I wanted a story that I actually hadn't seen adapted into a movie or television mini-series. And a theme to which I've developed into a definite follower. Combine the zombie apocalypse scenario together with Stephen King and what do you have? In one word: Cell.

Beginning with an outbreak reminiscent of '28 Days Later', had it happened in Boston, Massachusetts, aspiring graphic novel artist Clayton Riddell's dreams go up in smoke like the very city in which burns around him when what is later called "the Pulse" causes anyone communicating on a cell phone to essentially go mad and murderous. During the initial chaos that ensues, Clayton comes across Tom McCourt, a shorter, gentle-hearted man whose sexual orientation was very subtle to what I was originally led to believe (read Stephen Colbert's interview with Stephen King), and teenager Alice Maxwell. Together, the three travel by night to avoid the "phone crazies" and head north towards Maine, where Clayton's son lives.

Likely this is an oversimplification of Cell, but what really drives the book comes down to two devices: the fear that the phone crazies inspire not simply by their murderous nature, but more so by their eerie evolution, and the intriguing perspective King takes on the standard viral effect of zombie infection and transformation from the biological to the technological. Both devices are quite brilliant, really, in my humble opinion. Later into the novel, a little less than halfway through, we are given the writer's convenience through Gaiten Academy professor Charles "the Head" Ardai but particularly through his pupil, Jordan. Here's an excerpt from Jordan's theory regarding the effect of the pulse:
"No one has any real idea what that ninety-eight percent [of the human brain] is for, but there's plenty of potential there. Stroke victims, for instance... they sometimes access previously dormant areas of their brains in order to walk and talk again. It's like their brains wire around the blighted area. The lights go on in a similar area of the brain, but on the other side. [...] If you wipe a computer hard drive, it can't regenerate spontaneously... except maybe in a Greg Bear novel. People are different. [...] Me and the Head -- the Head and I -- think that in addition to stripping people's brains all the way down to that one unerasable line of code, the Pulse also kicked something on. Something that's probably been sitting inside all of us for millions of years, buried in that ninety-eight percent of dormant hard drive."
As to what Jordan is leading up to, I'll leave to you to learn for yourselves. With creative re-imagining of the zombie subgenre, Cell is a remarkably intriguing read. My only grievance is the occasional interjections that the characters, usually Clayton, make from time to time for borderline annoying anecdotes. That aside, I have no other complaints. I give it four-and-a-half out of five Lawrence Welks. (Trust me, it will make sense once you've read Cell.)

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