By Neil Kleid
With the final issue of DARK TOWER: TREACHERY now concluded and the DARK TOWER: SORCERER one-shot set to make its way into stores on April 8, we look to series co-writer Robin Furth once more for safety in answers.
Robin, co-architect of the Dark Tower comic books, kindly took time from plotting the downfall of Roland Deschain's family to give us a glimpse at the future of the Dark Tower comics, what to expect after treachery has struck and some insight into the mind of Stephen King's arch-villain, Marten Broadcloak.
Marvel.com: Roland's love died in Mejis, the Grapefruit took its toll on the road home and as betrayals come to light, his state of mind can't be healthy. How, if at all, will Roland go on?
Roland is a survivor and at heart he's a stoic. As readers of the original novels know, Roland always
survives, though I'm sure that sometimes he wishes he wouldn't!
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In the next story arc, Roland will really have to draw on his inner reserves. His whole world is about to collapse, but he must go on if he is to revenge his loved ones, and if he is to reach the Dark Tower.
Marvel.com: Readers have caught glimpses of the mysterious John Farson and the forces he controls. What can we expect from the Affiliation's enemy in the pages to come?
More treachery! I don't want to let any cats out of bags, but as I was writing the plot for the next story arc, I spent a lot of time in tears So many of the characters I have grown to love were being picked off, one by one. Often in really gruesome ways.
Marvel.com: How much input did Stephen King have in this latest installment of the Dark Tower?
As you know, Steve goes over all of our stories to give them the thumbs up or thumbs down. Luckily he has liked what we've done so far!
The events of TREACHERY are really rooted in the novels. Gabrielle's time in Debaria, her decision to try to kill her husband in order to please her lover Marten Broadcloak, all of this is either in the books or implied in them. As for the jealousy that Cuthbert, Alain, and Roland face when they return to Gilead, so much of that comes from my memory of being about 14 years old. We all remember what those years were like—not easy! Boys like Cuthbert and Alain, who seemed to have been singled out for special praise, would have been the
target for a lot of jealousy, and that's what I wrote about in the comics. Luckily, Steve King agreed with my idea!
One of my favorite characters in this story arc is Aileen. In many ways, Aileen reflects my own experience of growing up a girl in the 1970's, in a world that was quite different than it is today. When I was a girl, nobody thought that a woman could be president. I remember overhearing somebody say, "but if she had to go to war, she'd cry!" Women were either "Miss" or "Mrs." To use "Ms." was still a bit of a joke. I remember playing sci-fi games with my friends. You know, you are exploring an alien planet and monsters attack. Well, in those games I always thought I had to be a boy. I didn't want to be stuck in the kitchen, so I took on a boy's name and a boy's persona and went forth to explore! So, as you can guess, Aileen's frustration is a frustration I remember. She wants to be a champion, but her society says no, she can't .
Marvel.com: You're following TREACHERY with DARK TOWER: SORCERER, a one-shot that explores the motives of Marten Broadcloak—aka Walter o'Dim, Roland's archenemy. Can you tell us what to expect?
Hopefully, a pretty creepy experience! In my opinion, Marten Broadcloak—who is also known as Walter, the man in black, and Randall Flagg—is one of the scariest characters that Stephen King has ever created. He moves from book to book, bringing chaos and anarchy with him. He can be found in [the] Dark Tower [series] of course, but he is also the evil force found in "The Stand" and in "Eyes
of the Dragon." He is quite a demonic figure, and as such he is one of the great anti-heroes of contemporary popular fiction.
I've always been fascinated by anti-heroes. How do they see the world and what are their motivations? Journeying into Walter's mind is a pretty wild experience and at times a little frightening. You have to travel to very dark places. For a long time now I've had email exchanges with Steve King about Walter/Marten/Randall Flagg, and so SORCERER will contain some never-before-seen information about Walter's origins, all of it straight from the King himself! I think that this new information—I won't tell you what it is yet—really tells us more about Walter's deeper self; who he is and why he does what he does. And it also addresses [if he] is actually human
Not only does SORCERER look at the Dark Tower mythos from Walter's perspective, but it also explores the origin, and the nature, of Maerlyn's Grapefruit. In the original novel Steve King talks about the Grapefruit as being alive and almost seductive. In fact, he says it is labial pink
, giving it a particularly sexual
aura. This becomes a very important part of Walter's story—and indirectly but importantly part of Roland's. I don't dare say any more, since I want to keep some surprises, but I will
add that if you read this tale you will encounter some pretty strange demons. Richard [Isanove] has done a fantastic
job with the art. It is truly inspired.
Oh yes, for you longtime fans of "The Gunslinger," you'll actually get to see more of Walter's Tarot Cards—the deck he uses to tell Roland's future at the end of that
first novel of the series. In SORCERER, he uses his cards to tell the future of the House of Deschain—somehow I doubt they'd be pleased with what he sees!
I must say, I've had the time of my life writing SORCERER and collaborating with Richard to bring the tale to life, so I really hope that comes across in the story! As a lot of my fellow Dark Tower junkies have pointed out to me, Walter tends to like pseudonyms with the initials "R.F."—in other words, pseudonyms with my initials! Sometimes I wonder if my initials were part of the reason Steve was intrigued enough to hire me as a research assistant. If so, I owe Walter a debt. Maybe giving him voice is my way of paying that debt!
Marvel.com: Are further stand-alone stories planned for the other denizens of In-World?
I certainly hope so. There are so many characters that deserve to have their stories told, or perhaps to tell
their own stories. I think it would be really great to be able to tell Steven Deschain's story, and about his life with Gabrielle. What went wrong there? We're given lots of hints in the books, but it would be an amazing subject to explore. I'd also like to explore Sheemie's tale, and Cort's story. And to tell the truth, I wouldn't mind spending some more time in End-World with the Crimson King, since he scares me silly. Luckily, in the final story arcs we'll get to spend more time with Cuthbert, Alain—all longtime favorites of mine. And then there is Aileen…
As you can tell, the possibilities are endless!
DARK TOWER: SORCERER casts its spell on April 8. You can also read the first issue of DARK TOWER: THE GUNSLINGER BORN on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited! And fore more on the Dark Tower, check out the official Marvel.com hub and StephenKing.com
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