Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Randomiser #3: 3 January 2007

Today's song: "Here We Go", Arab Strap
I bought several records by the popular Falkirk miserablists before coming to the conclusion that I'd probably heard all that they had to offer. This is from Philophobia, their second album, and it's pretty much like every other Arab Strap song: gentle, hypnotic backing track over which Aidan Moffatt mumbles tales of depression with such determination that he can barely summon up the will to hold the tune during the chorus. Judged as an individual track, it's great - it's just that they made so many songs that sound exactly like this. According to Wikipedia, Arab Strap made six studio albums before splitting in 2005, and as far as I recall, they never really made a break with their winning formula. A whole Arab Strap album is a wearing experience. They're actually best enjoyed like this, coming up a track at a time on a Shuffle playlist, ready to ruin your day when you don't expect them.

Also on today's Randomiser:
- This Life +10 certainly recaptures the original show's weird style, I'll give it that. It's an odd show, in that it tries its best to stay low-key and realistic, while simultaneously allowing Daniela Nardini to chew the scenery and delivering outrageously potboilerish plot twists while persistently backing off from anything too nasty. (Milly's fallen off a horse! Oh no, she's alright.) It's a sort of anticlimactic melodrama, which surely shouldn't work, but there's something enjoyable about it nonetheless.

- The comics blogosphere - and please god, let somebody come up with a better name for it, because buzzwords make my skin crawl - seems to have noticed that Marvel's Dark Tower adaptation is bearing less and less resemblance to what they originally seemed to be hyping. (Don MacPherson offers the counter-argument.)

I wrote a piece about this for Ninth Art back in November 2005 when the project was first announced. (It's another of Marvel's ultra-late projects; it was meant to come out last April.) Marvel's original press release was a masterpiece of marketing-speak, which bent over backwards to imply that Stephen King was writing the comic himself, without ever quite saying so. Subsequently, editor-in-chief Joe Quesada gave an interview in which he explained that King wasn't actually writing the book himself. In fact, King had come up with some story concepts; Robin Furth was working them up into story outlines; Joe Quesada was breaking them down into a comics script; and Peter David was scripting it. So that's four writers, then, but at least they could still say they were publishing original stories by Steven King.

Now, the penny has finally dropped that the opening issues aren't new stories at all. They're an adaptation of an existing novel. We've now drifted way off course from anything Marvel had originally hinted at. Even allowing for the company's perennial tendency to overhype, they presented this project as a massively important breakout project for the company. Publishing an adaptation of a Stephen King novel really isn't a particularly big deal. To be fair, the solicitations for issue #1 do feature the words "adapted by ... Robin Furth", although they don't say what it's been adapted from. And the solicitation still implies original material: "Long-time fans will thrill to adventures merely hinted at in the novels." Not in that issue, they won't.

Issue #2's solicitation says nothing about being an adaptation at all.

I increasingly suspect that Marvel have an "any publicity is good publicity" attitude, and they certainly got a lot of publicity with their initial promotion of this series. Of course, then they failed to deliver the actual book for around a year and a half, but you can't have everything. And moreover, they've led everyone to expect a project vastly different - in fact, in a different league of importance - from what they're actually delivering. I really don't see how that's in their interests.

Why are they opening with an adaptation arc, anyway? Who is meant to be buying this book? From Marvel's point of view, surely this comic was supposed to be a big deal because it would draw in the Stephen King readership. But presumably those readers already know the story being adapted, and don't need to have it explained to them. Surely they'd rather be reading something new. The existing comics fans probably need to have the character introduced... but since when were they the target audience for this book?

This was supposed to be a project that would sell Marvel comics to Stephen King fans. Is it slowly turning into a project aimed at selling Stephen King novels to comic book readers?