Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Icons of Horror: Stephen King

As part of the Catacombs "Strange Terrors" celebration, here is the second of four weekly posts in my 2010 "Icons of Horror" series, with this years set focusing on popular or significant genre authors.

Stephen King’s books have sold more than 500 million copies, been made into movies and television mini-series. His novels The Stand, The Talisman, and The Dark Tower have also been adapted for comic books. He is best known for novels such as Carrie, The Shining, The Stand, It, Misery, and the epic seven-novel series The Dark Tower, which King has written over a period of twenty-seven years. To date, King has written and published forty-nine novels (including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman), five non-fiction books, and nine collections of short stories. Many of his stories are set within his home state of Maine. King has received many awards, including several Bram Stoker Awards, Locus Awards, and, in 2003, the National Book Foundation awarded him the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

After a decade of addiction to various substances and alcohol, King’s family and friends staged an intervention in the late 1980’s, dumping evidence of his addictions taken from the trash on the rug in front of him. King then sought help and quit all forms of drugs and alcohol and has remained sober since.

On June 19, 1999 while he was reading a book and walking on the shoulder of Route 5, in Lovell, Maine, a distracted driver struck King, who landed in a depression in the ground about fourteen feet from the pavement. According to witnesses, the driver was not speeding or reckless, still King suffered a collapsed right lung, multiple fractures of his right leg, scalp laceration and a broken hip, requiring five operations over ten days and physical therapy. King's lawyer and two others purchased the drivers van for $1,500, reportedly to prevent it from appearing on eBay. It was later crushed at a junkyard, much to King's disappointment, as he dreamed of beating it with a baseball bat.

King has continued to write and publish such bestsellers as Cell, Duma Key and Under the Dome. He is widely known for his philanthropic efforts on behalf of literary causes. Stephen King’s wife, Tabitha and their three children are all published authors. Stephen and his wife own The Zone Corporation, a central Maine radio station group consisting of WZON, WZON-FM, and WKIT.

Marvel Comics currently publishes comic books based on King's Dark Tower series, The Stand and The Talisman. This year, DC Comics premiered American Vampire, a monthly series written by King (with short story writer Scott Snyder) and Stephen King has stated that his favorite book-to-film adaptations are Stand by Me, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Mist. [Portrait illustration (above; right) by Tom Richmond].

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