Monday, August 29, 2005

Redemption and Cycles-Redux

An interesting thing has occurred over at Dark Tower Group. This is in regards to the entire Cycle of the Dark Tower. Someone put forth a theory that Roland was asleep for the entire novels. While this can make sense, it is illogical. The proof behind this is in the loss of the Horn of Eld. A horn that was used by Arthur Eld and all of his descendents before going to battle and while in battle. Roland had lost the horn at the battle of Jericho Hill where many of the Gunslingers were killed along with his friend Cuthbert Allgood. Roland saved himself and his guns, but not the horn. Throughout the story he keeps mulling over in his head that he lost the horn, because he knows he has to blow the horn at the foot of the Dark Tower in order to enter Properly.
Think of this as a ceremony, where the horn, guns, rose, and blood of the Eld must be used together in order to enter the Dark Tower and see who truly is a the top. Roland bastardized the ceremony by not having the horn. This is the explanation for his brief 'reload' if you will, at the end of the Dark Tower and the beginning of the Gunslinger. It is not the same story over and over again, but a cycle in which Roland gets closer to the Tower with each time he reaccomplishes his goals. This is also why, I theorize at least, that in the Matrix films, Neo does not get recycled but that the Machines plug him in to the Matrix once more so that he can be reborn, perhaps not with the same body, but the code that he carried will have a stronger imprint than did the five others.
With Roland, however, in order for him to be free of the cycle, he must learn how to create life and not death, from the Mohaine Desert to the Tower or the repercussions will be the same, start the cycle over once more. This is the reason that King chose this part of the story, that Roland came to view what he had done as wrong, that all he created was death and destruction, and not until the very end did he see the error of his ways, not until the end did he realize that the journey is the destination...

Brain Fart

So this past weekend I read a couple articles on the new Matrix game, Path of Neo. This game is much different than both the Matrix Online, and Enter the Matrix. This game allows for you, the player, to finally control Neo, learn his abilities, and fly like Neo did. The game covers all three films, and parts of the Animatrix. It also sports a very very different ending than did the films. You can choose the ways Neo did not, like escaping from the Agents at the beginning of the First Matrix film.
Anyway, While talking to my brother, who hasn't read or really been into comics for anything other than Mark Millar's Wanted and Kurt Busiek's Conan and Astro City, he wasn't really aware of all the things that have happened to both DC and Marvel and how they are both trying to streamline their continuity and books. He was really surprised with the vast amount of GOOD books that have come out and the artwork that goes with them. Like myself, he took the news that Jim Lee is going to jump back to Wildcats with childish glee.
I had to explain to him though, how Wildstorm was now a part of DC Comics and that Jim Lee had been doing work for them now for quite some time. He didn't say anything at first, then I showed him the Superman: For Tomorrow Series that Mr. Lee drew. He was surprised.
During my three day vacation(oh yeah, it was a blast!) I really didn't do much but catch up on sleep and continued putting together materials for my Dark Horse Comics New Recruits Submission. I don't think I'll be posting anything online for what I'll be doing other than saying it's scifi-fantasy, and an Epic. This thing's been brewing in my brain for over ten years and I've been wittling it down to something that can be digested in installments.
Anyway, I'll post more about the Tower and the Matrix later on.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Enjoying Vacation

Wow, sleep is really good when you can catch it. I almost forgot how nice it can be to sleep in till like 9:30. Between work and grad school not much sleep to be found, always doing research for my master's program or doing a group project. anywho, back to the info.
So, this topic will be
The Dark Tower and the Matrix Trilogy have a lot in common. Both have protagonists that have a beginning and an end to their lives. Both became more than what they originally were and they served the greater good.
Now, Roland Deschain of Gilead, the last Gunslinger in All-World, lived, breathed and eventually dies a Gunslinger, ideals in tact. Thomas Anderson, aka, Neo, the One, did not live or breathe as anything other than a hacker. When he inevitably comes to the realization that he Must die in order to protect the last remaining human city of Zion, he becomes more than just the One that everyone keeps telling him he his, he becomes the One, the person that will end the war between man and machine, though from the film, perhaps not forever, but at least for a time.
What Roland saves is no less noble, he saves the Universe. Born to be a hero since birth, Roland's sole goal in life is to protect the Dark Tower, the reasoning behind this is that if the Tower should fall, all the Universe would be destroyed and the beings of Chaos would rule. What unites Roland and Neo are their extra burdens they place upon themselves. For Roland he must not only save the Tower but enter it. For Neo he must end the war and protect Trinity, his love. It is these extra burdens that unite the characters neither of them has to do what they do. But then they wouldn't be heroes if they did.
Both Neo and Roland experience a type of Purgatory or Limbo. For Neo, it is literally Mobil(anagram of limbo) Station. He patiently awaits the Trainman and meets two programs from the machine world. It is here that we first see the trains that run throughout the Matrix and see that one of them says in the destination header: LOOP. This is in the Matrix: Revolutions. Revolution does not simply mean war in this series, it also takes on the meaning of one comlete Cycle. Literally, everything comes full circle.
For Roland, his purgatory and Limbo is the Mohaine Desert and the splitting of his mind after the death of Jake Chambers. This is due to the fact that up until that period of the Cycle, Roland had never let Jake fall. This time, for whatever reason, he let Jake fall and the boy died in Midworld and was reborn in New York once more, but with the knowledge that he had already died.
In the Matrix: Revolutions, in the battle dubbed the SuperBurly Brawl, Both Neo and Agent Smith tangle high above the city and spin each other while fighting this creates the yin and yang symbol that both men come to embody physically. Smith, however, had realized that this had happened before, in the opening sequence of the Matrix: Reloaded. He says to the copy Smith, "Everything's happening like before," but then the original Smith says, "well, not exactly like before," meaning that this time Smith has done something different in the scheme.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Stories that Connect

Here is the list of stories and novels that tie into the Dark Tower series.
Eyes of the Dragon (Look for Flagg)
The Stand
'Salem's Lot
Everything's Eventual (The Little Sisters of Eluria and Everything's Eventual)
Black House & The Talisman
Desperation & The Regulators
Hearts in Atlantis (specifically Low Men in Yellow Coats)
From a Buick 8
Bag of Bones
Rose Madder
Skeleton Crew-The Mist

Basically you would need to start with The Little Sisters of Eluria, one of the first of Roland's adventures in Midworld. The next would be Desperation because it takes place in the Desatoya Mountains of Nevada, where Roland was during the Little Sisters story. Next would be The Gunslinger and Bag of Bones. The Drawing of the Three followed by Eyes of the Dragon, next the Stand followed by The Wastelands, Rose Madder, and then Wizard and Glass. After Wizard and Glass, The Mist, Black House (the Talisman isn't really that important), Insomnia, It, and From a Buick 8. Salem's Lot, then Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, Everything's Eventual, and finally the Dark Tower.
That would be a pretty safe bet. However, you don't have to read all the books to read the cycle, they just add in details as to say, why Topeka, Kansas is devasted but has a Takuro Spirit instead of a different name brand car, or why there is no Coke-Cola but instead there's Nozz-a-La Cola. Thinnies have spread throughout King's worlds and they are beginning to overlap in the Dark Tower series.

A Brief Look

When I first began reading the Dark Tower I realized that King was drawing from sources unknown to my twelve year old mind. It would be later on, after studying on my own the works of Joseph Campbell and the religions of the world that I began to see the immensity of the work King was producing. Joseph Campbell, in his work The Hero with a Thousand Faces, that,
"This popular motif gives emphasis to the lesson that the passage of the threshold is a form of self-annihilation...But here, instead of passing outward, beyond the confines of the visible world, the hero goes inward, to be born again."
This quote reflects Roland Deschain, King of Gilead, Last of the Gunslingers of Arthur Eld, Protector of the White. In his long search to see what is in the Dark Tower he forgets that what is most important is not what is inside the Tower, but what he gained outside it. He, in essence, and quite literally, annihilates himself to be born again, thus beginning and ending the Cycle that is the Tower.
Campbell also says that,
"His flowering world becomes a wasteland of dry stones and his life feels meaningless...Whatever house he builds, it will be a house of death..."
Which is what Roland creates inside the Dark Tower, which is the Nexus of all time but also the nexus of our lives. So what he created was death and misery and that is all he sees within the superstructure of the Dark Tower. Because of his choices he is resurrected, not for the first time, God only knows how many times it has been, and what we are given is only one such cycle. Campbell says "The hero has died as a modern man; but as eternal man-perfected, unspecific, universal man-he has been reborn."
Which is where the Gunslinger begins, with Roland being reborn at the true beginning of his journey, in the Mohaine Desert. The land is harsh and so are the choices that, as a reader of the books already knows, Roland will need to make.
Next: The Stories that Connect...

The House of Ideas, Harry Potter and Star Wars

Dr. Doom is one of the greatest comic villains ever drawn. The fact that the man inside the mask is disfigured doesn't matter. It is the metallic face, the dark green hood that covers the rest of his head, the giant buckles on his shoulders that keep his cape in place, the armored gauntlets he wears with his body armor. And the fact that he rules the country of Latveria, what more could be wanted of a villain. King had the right idea in choosing the character to be his representation of robots with the Wolves. The difference is that the mask is a wolf's head, not that of a human. The Wolves themselves are armed with familiar laser blades that hum and hiss when used in combat along with a certain golden ball that a certain lightning scarred wizard boy chases in Quidditch games. King has gone beyond simply lifting source materials in the Dark Tower series, he reshapes it in different ways. The sacred and peaceful Jedi Lightsabers are turned into menacing weapons of destruction by the Wolves as are the Golden Snitches of the Harry Potter Books.
What King does is show how events and things can be modified from world to world. In our world lightsabers do not exist as a thing other than in movies. In Roland's world they are real and they decapitate people. The Golden Snitch has been dubbed the Sneetches and they are essentially missiles used by the Crimson King and the Wolves. The Crimson King has crates of them to throw at Roland when he nears the Dark Tower. King also takes liberty with certain places and explains this with the portals called Thinnies, where literally, reality is becoming thin and merging with other worlds.
This is some of the appeal of the Dark Tower, that King's stories overlap.
Next: The Stories that Connect...

The Seven Samurai

Of all Akira Kurasawa's films that had in impact on Stephen King, The Seven Samurai took the cake. It was such an incredible film that John Sturgis went off and made his western, The Magnificent Seven, which was Sturgis' take on the story. King showed his gratitude for Sturgis' film so much that he name the town after him, Calla Bryn Sturgis, from the novel Wolves of the Calla. The novel deals with Roland's Ka-tet (the name given to the small, but well trained Gunslngers that Roland has created) being asked by the people of Calla Bryn Sturgis to rid them of the terrible harriers known only as the Wolves of Thunderclap. If you have seen the films, either of them, then you already know the plot. Gunmen, men who deal in lead, are hired by the local peasant farmers to stop the bandits from raiding their town. Same with Wolves of the Calla, except the Wolves are pretty interesting creatures, but that is for later.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum's book The Wizard of Oz is never taken for granted in Midworld. The colors of the rainbow have been tranformed into the Bends o' the Rainbow and also Called Maerlyn's Rainbow. The significance is that Character's are always talking about Midworld not being Kansas, yet they too arrive in Topeka, Kansas of The Stand. There is a scene in Wizard and Glass, which relied heavily on the Wizard of Oz references, has a castle made of green glass like the Emerald City and The Wastelands has a character named the Tick-Tock Man. These were the first inklings of what King was planning on bringing to the world of the Dark Tower. He was not just bringing in other literature, but pop culture as well.
The use of the Ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz, was for protection for Dorothy. In Wizard and Glass, the red shoes/boots are used to enter the immense glass structure.
Next:Akira Kurasawa's The Seven Samurai

Once Upon a Time in the West

Anyone who reads the Dark Tower series will quickly learn that Stephen King gleaned a lot from the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. He calls the Mohaine Desert, in The Gunslinger, the apotheosis of all deserts, and because he partly created Roland while watching The above mentioned film, the desert and Roland are recognizable as both a mix of King and Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name, though in the film he is called 'blondie' by the character Tuco. Eastwood's character remains without a name for the duration of the three films. He carries his guns with him where ever he goes, two heavy pistols with silver snakes coiled on the handles. Not at all like the sandalwood grips that Roland uses. No, the snakes on Eastwood's guns tell the tale of the man with no name.
What else is interesting is the fact that in the Videogame Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, many references to other media are used. The use of Solid Snake, the protagonist, as a man who deals with whatever is thrown his way. He resembles Eastwood with his blue eyes and also with his speech, sparse, deep throated and deliberate. He doesn't speak unless he has to. The Man with No Name is much the same. Both become injured, and both are excellent fighters. The game's creator has said several times that the Man with No Name Trilogy and of course, Escape From New York were huge influences in his creation of Solid Snake.
From the trilogy, King lifts insignificant characters and expands their roles in the novels. He doesn't actually use the same names or characters, but situations and characteristics he does use. The interesting aspect of the whole series is that the Man with No Name moves on from town to town, most often he thinks only of himself, but does occasionally do what is right. It is these shining times that allow the hero in him to shine and that is why we root for him when he hunts down the men who helped to injure him to the point of death, why we root for him when he gets shot and doesn't die. But he is also searching for something far out along the horizon, something that we can no longer see because the mythical West is long gone from this world. But through those films the West is alive and also through King's work.
Throughout the novels there is a sense that Roland's world is one giant empty desert. Despite moving into the hill country and cities, there is no one around and the whole world is like a ghost town. As King explains it further along in the series, some of this is from the great war that brought about the ruin of Midworld, along with the effects of the SuperFlu from The Stand. King began incorporating the various places and characters he's created over the years and it is in the Dark Tower Series that he connects all the dots.
Next: The Wizard of Oz...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Arthur's Legacy

In Stephen King's the Dark Tower, knights have been replaced with the Gunslingers. They are a combination of knight and samurai, but with a western bend in dress, speech, and manners. They are cowboys, essentially. What makes Roland different is that he is a descendant, the last descendent of Arthur Eld, Midworld's version of King Arthur. One concept to remember about the Dark Tower series is that there are people, places and things that resemble our world, but are slighlyt different. The City of Lud, in the Wastelands, looks like New York.
Roland's quest, or grail, is the Dark Tower, the nexus of all space, time and worlds. He must protect it from falling at all costs. What is not his quest, but his obsession is to enter the Tower and see what resides at the top. No one knows what or who lives there, only that the Tower is being guarded by the being known as the Crimson King.
Roland is essentially the final king of all of Midworld. He is also the last Gunslinger. Which is why he trains the three other characters in the novels. He needs backup since his friends have all died. King Never says outright who all of Roland's friends were and how they died, but he does repeatedly mention three. Alan, Cuthbert, and Jamie DeCurrie
That's where the Arthur legend fits in.
Next: The Films of Sergio Leone, specifically the Man with No Name Trilogy...

Friday, August 19, 2005

Multiple Earths II

Okay, sorry, had a night of some really well deserved fun. Anywho, back to Simak's Ring...
So the purpose of the book is to show how humanity is being dispersed over empty earths in order to have a new beginning. The kicker is that they can only take the clothes on their back and nothing more. Some people do, big businesses begin to decline because of the gadgets that run forever. Now, this whole concept was also dealt with in a very cool comic called Wildcats. Version 3.0, which, if any one was reading it, a very highly politically/socially charged read that had this concept of batteries and cars and other everyday appliances that last forever. The tag for the book was Creating a Better World. The concept was a little too high for most folks and the series was sadly cancelled. Too bad, it did deal quite a bit with what Simak covered.
What King borrowed was the multiple earth theory and the doorways that lead to them. Through out the novesl he always says: There are other worlds than these, and, The world has moved on. In Ring Around the Sun, there is the sense that permeates through the novel that our world has indeed moved on, people are leaving this earth for another. King deals with the exodus of the present world of Roland's by having parts of the world interconnect with various places in the America we know and live in with the America King has created, the so called secret highways and biways.
Next: The Arthurian Myth and Legend filtered in the Dark Tower...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Multiple Earths

Okay, so the first thing I'd want to cover would be Clifford D. Simak's Ring Around the Sun.
Steven King owes a lot to Mr. Simak. In this book the theory of mutiple earths is explained that there is an infinite number of earth all either a second behind or a second ahead of us. We just don't see them. The story is great in that it shows the use of the multiple worlds and things start being built that last forever. There is also the creation of three two parts to human being that become one when the time is right. That part gets complicated, but King does it in the Wastelands, perfectly by having Roland's mind literally split between having Jake being dead, but not being dead.
More later...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Getting Your Feet Wet

Here are some really cool sites that I use frequently: Which has awesome discussions about everything KING! which is cool when Bryan Hitch posts stuff. He's a pretty funny guy.

and of course, which Is the source for Comic news
and the last but definitely not the least: which is a great resource of comic artists, writers, colorists, etc. There are some great articles and also a great forum for artwork critiques.

'till later


I'm a huge Stephen King fan and I love film as well. I started noticing certain connections between a certain trilogy and Mr. King's magnum opus, The Dark Tower. . The framework for both pieces of art is derived from Mr. Joseph Cambell's most famous book, Hero of A Thousand Faces. The same is said of the first Star Wars film.
I'll start with the Dark Tower and just some basic things it delves into.
  • The King Arthur Myths and Legends
  • Robert Browning's "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came"
  • The Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone (Especially The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)
  • Clifford D. Simak's Ring around the Sun. Great book if you can find it.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
  • Star Wars
  • Harry Potter
  • Marvel Comics
  • The Searchers/Tombstone/Unforgiven
  • Akir Kurasawa's The Seven Samurai
  • Redemption & Cycles
  • Hindu Mythology
  • Eastern Philosophy
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Pride and Vanity
That's what I got so far. I'll go into each one in detail later.

Talking Shop

Okay, the main reason I created this blog is talk comics and what it can mean for education. Some people know I'm going to grad school to teach English in high school and maybe middle school. Now, a big part of that is knowing that I'll be able to teach comics in class if they are relevent to the content standards each and every school has to abide by. Thank you No Child Left Behind. Anyway, I started thinking about different things teachers have told me over the years and what one teacher told a student in a class I recently observed.
She said that reading was important, and it did not matter what students read so long as they read. One student lifted a graphic novel he was reading, and she said "Except comic books, we won't be reading them in class.
I wrote down a question and it went like this, why can't comics be taught? They are literature and art combined. We show movies and play music for children, what is the difference. A list of graphic novels started to burst from my mind. Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, taught in History, as a means of showing people's actions or inability to become independent from a higher authority. The Authority by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch. This could be included while teaching ethics to students. The story asks the question Why can't good be done for the world? And why do those in power wish to stop great things from happening to the world?
Joseph Michael Linsner's Lucifer's Halo would be great for contemporary English fiction. It involves Celtic, Hindu and Judeo-Christian motifs that are appealing to everyone and shows what an Everyman should be. I'd also figure out a way to have students read WE3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. It really is a good yarn about what home is and how to get there despite the world being a scary place. These were just some of the subject that are touched upon.
The one that really got me thinking though was the Amazing Spiderman graphic novel, Revelations, which deals with the events of September 11th, 2001. It is a pretty poignant story but that tries to teach a message that anyone can be a hero, just look at the men and women that helped save lives that day.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Ah, the Beginning!

Okay, so this is the first post and it is an important one. Today was the weird weather day in Los Angeles, thunderstorms and lightning and hail the size of my fist came plummeting down from the sky. It was kinda cool despite having to wake up at 2:50 in the morning. But what is important is right below, if you live in the L.A. area, this would be a great way to help someone.
And Cole's is my favorite bar in all of L.A. check it out.
Calling on all friends! Calling on all friends! I need your help....Are you ready to party and have a great time....No, it's not another divorce party (although I had great time at the last one). This one is special...I am even throwing in your first pint of Spaten Lager FREE....Yes...FREE BEER...Of course, there's one tiny CATCH. I need your blood.On Friday, August 26th I will be hosting a Blood Drive on behalf of my friend, and beloved Cole's regular, Laura. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy, and can use our extra pints. (To read more about Laura and her current situation, please visit her blog at friends from Kaiser will be drawing your blood at the penthouse of my friend, Adam (home of the best views in LA). The Blood Drive will be held from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. on August 26th. I need 50 people to set this up, so email me or call me to setup an appointment ASAP -- appointments can be at the top of each hour to cut down your wait. The drive will start by appointment at 11 a.m. and continue until all the people signed up are done.....Call or Email (714-715-1685, The goal is 200 people.All donors will receive a thank you gift bag which includes a Mega Millions Lotto Ticket, and a gift certificate for a free pint of Spaten from Cole’s during the after-party.That night, (August 26th) I'm hosting a party for all our friends and donors at Cole's (you don't have to donate to come but you better). One of the best local bands in town -- I See Hawks in LA -- will be playing in the back room. The free beer will be flowing, and we'll all compare Band-Aids.Help Laura, Get Free Beer, Listen to the can't do better on a Friday. Call me and set the appointment. Ali
Blood Drive LocationAdam’s Penthouse533 South Los Angeles StreetBetween 5th Street & 6th Street7th floorLaura Blog
Cole's P.E. Buffet
118 East 6th Street
Between Main Street & Los Angeles


Ali MazareiPinnacle Real Estate Holdings, Inc.Riverside County Travel Zone LLCCOO & Co-founderLos Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, & Riverside Counties in Southern CaliforniaOffice & Fax 714.538.5199Cell