One of Stephen King’s most famous and spookiest novels is ’Salem’s Lot. That novel tells the story of a small Maine town that has become completely inhabited by vampires–and the horrific fate that meets the town’s residents at the hands of those vampires.
Several years after ’Salem’s Lot was published to great acclaim, King wrote a short story sequel called “One for the Road,” which has been published as a words-and-pictures book by England’s PS Publishing.
The book isn’t quite comics; it’s illustrated fiction with the text of the story appearing on one page and the art appearing on the opposite page. In that way, this story avoids one of the great flaws that many adaptations of King’s work share: that readers don’t get to enjoy King’s evocative and entertaining phrasing.
King’s work has always been well known for its verisimilitude with the writer’s wonderful ability to capture the colloquial way that people actually speak. That realism is ideal for this story, as it’s told by a small-town bartender in an out-of-a-way bar on the night of a horrific blizzard. If the book had been done as an adaptation of King’s work rather than as a prose-and-pictures presentation, readers would simply not be able to enjoy the dialectical realism of King’s narrative.
This arrangement is also a good fit for the book because it effectively highlights James Hannah’s art. Hannah’s work is wonderful in the way that it captures the starkly intense horror of King’s story. Some of the images he presents are intensely moving. For instance, the look on the child’s face on page 32 is thoroughly haunting, and the eagle’s-eye view of the car on page 20 lays bare the loneliness of the people’s situation.
Those who remember ‘Salem’s Lot will probably get a whole lot out of this book. In fact, I haven’t read ‘Salem’s Lot in many years and I was still completely enraptured in this wonderful little book. As always, the production values from PS Publishing are impeccable, and the packaging of One for the Road is perfect. Any fan of King’s writing will want to seek out this wonderfully scary edition.