With the rapidly-approaching release of The Dark Tower (8/4/17) and the remake of IT (9/8/17), I once again find myself indulging in one of my loftiest fantasies: a well-made Stephen King film adaptation.
With the exceedingly rare exceptions of The Shawshank Redemption, and perhaps The Mist, Stephen King’s books have just never been able to successfully cross over from page to film. The trouble seems to exist largely in the translation of his narrative style: many of King’s best details are hidden within the nuances of his character’s mental asides. It’s those brief quotes that unconsciously stumble through the protagonist’s minds that help the reader connect. How many times has a seemingly random blurb from an otherwise inconsequential encounter run itself ragged through your mind, only to eventually (inevitably) tie itself to your current task in any number of different ways? These nuances are the kind of shit that haven’t seen successful adaptation since Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, and are a key part of why King’s horror is so acute.
But—despite my rambling—this piece is not about King’s narrative style. It is about the crushed hope and horrifyingly mutilated attempt at the fulfillment of another long-held personal fantasy: a visual diagram of the Stephen King multiverse.
Anyone who has read more than one or two of King’s books will tell you that they all exist in the same set of worlds. More serious fans might even divulge that the Dark Tower is the central fulcrum to this machination of characters, monsters and parallel dimensions (all things serve the beam). Ask them to explain it, however, and most aren’t able to get beyond “It all ties in to the Dark Tower.”
For instance (spoilers below)…
- Dick Halloran. the head chef of The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel, was also briefly mentioned in IT. He was a member of the African-American army and worked at a night club called The Black Spot, which was burned down by white supremacists.
- Derry, Maine, has been mentioned in/hosted the events of several of King’s works, such as IT, Insomnia, Dreamcatcher, Tommyknockers, Pet Sematary, etc.
- Pennywise—the horrifying clown in IT—most likely produced offspring, resulting in one of the final villains in The Dark Tower series.
- Insomnia—arguably one of King’s weaker works—was in T.D.T. universe as something of a red herring.
- Johnny Smith is a psychic and the protagonist of The Dead Zone, but is also in one of King’s earliest works: Carrie.
Shit’s fucking complicated.
So it really should come as no surprise that this literary road map is something that I have wanted–nay, craved–since before I even knew that multiverses existed.
And then, I was betrayed.
We have this new fucker at my work: Chad. I do not have high hopes for Chad, although that may likely change. I seem to have about the worst knack for predictions of anyone I’ve ever met—my initial reactions to both texting and reality t.v. were “Well, that’ll never take off.”. But I digress. Chad had recently enlightened me to his discovery of such a map he had stumbled upon recently. I nodded politely, smiled, and then popped in my other ear bud and tried to tune him out. I’m kind of a dick(?).
When I got home that night, the first thing I did was google “Stephen King multiverse.” Elation bubbled up inside of me, starting in my toes and settling somewhere along the tip of my tongue. Could it be? Could what I’ve been off-handedly searching for for years FINALLY EXIST?
And then I found this monstrosity:
The notes on the bottom indicate that this chart was created by a Gillian James of Tessie Design Company. Spoiler alert: “Gillian James” is an anagram of “Anal Slime Jig,” which is, coincidentally, what I hope happens to them after having created this fucking abortion of statistical representation. I mean, seriously, fucking who designs a graphic like this with all the lines being the same fucking color??? Gillian obviously knew that this would be a confusing concept, since they went out of their fucking way to make the individual little boxes different fucking colors. Not that that particular insight helped them much. If you’re going to go out of your god damned way to show people which books took place in Derry (dark orange) you might want to make the books that mentioned Derry something other than a slightly lighter fucking orange. Also, the needless twists and turns most of the lines make to reach their connection is like playing that part of Space Quest 6: Roger Wilco where you have to connect the Jimmy-rigged tube to the other tubes to cryogenically freeze that one guy.
My point is, Gillian James, you did a shit job. Putting aside the fact that you knowingly neglected to include T.D.T. series (a move that would have helped clean this graphic up considerably), you also made it so god damn confusing to read that I got a headache just trying to figure out which fucking story Frank Dodd told to scare little kids in The Dead Zone (I think it was Cujo). You should be ashamed and mortified over the hurt you have caused me and countless others—over getting our hopes up so high, only to then dash them against the rocky outcropping of a cliff like so many Victorian-era virginal suicides. Shame. On. You.
Maybe your internal dialogue told you it was good. That you were doing us a service. That you were giving us something, where before we had nothing.