Review: Orbit: Stephen King

By Michael Lent and Brian McCarthy

Penciled by Kent Hurlburt

Bluewater Comics

Out now

 Writing the biography of an author like Stephen King in comic book format may not seem an immediately obvious choice, but there is no denying that the visual element to this story does make it an engaging read. Stephen King is a quick and informative work that neatly outlines the major points of King’s life in easy to swallow bites. It has a steady pacing and flow, making it a relatively straightforward read.

The story is bracketed by King’s nearly fatal accident in which he was hit by a car while walking in the countryside. The first pages of the book show the accident and the last pages detail his recovery. This gives the tale something of a ‘his life flashed before his eyes’ quality that is quite satisfying. It also helps to give the comic a well-defined structure and a neatly circular narrative as the writers work their way back to the events at the beginning.

One criticism I have of Stephen King is that there is a disconcerting discrepancy between the tone of the comic and the subject matter. Tonally it seems to be aimed at children or young teenagers; however within its pages it deals with death, drug addiction and other adult themes. I struggled at times to identify who exactly the authors were writing to.

The art is vibrant, creative and rich. Kent Hurlburt’s pencils/colours are expressive and emotive throughout although it is difficult to see what exactly is happening in some panels. An effort has been made to help communicate the emotional tone of any given page through creative panel layout and this certainly helps the narrative.

The scripting is mostly well done although there are moments of ‘cheesiness’ that did evoke a slight wince. In some places the writing seemed rushed and overly simplified. Again this made me wonder what age group this comic is targeted at.

If Stephen King aspires to be a basic information-providing work then it certainly fulfils its goals adequately. However, if it is supposed to be an engrossing non-fiction story about one of the world’s best known and most-loved authors then it falls just a little short in both tone and content.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a quick and unchallenging read that will simultaneously provide a broad overview of the life of Stephen King then this is the comic for you. If however, you’re looking for something with a bit more sincerity and depth I’d recommend you give it a miss.  4/10-

 Bernice Watson

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