04 May 2010

Day 38: Dayna Ingram (guest blogger)

Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born by Stephen King, Peter David, Robin Furth, and Jason Lee (Illustrator).  ISBN: 9780785121442.

Having been sick this passed weekend, I was not up for reading anything that had more paragraphs than pictures or more figurative language than thought balloons, so I figured a graphic novel was my best bet. I saved the Dark Tower comics for when I finished the epic seven-tome series, because I assumed - especially with a title like Gunslinger Born - that the comics would not follow the books’ chronology. Before I digress into bigger-picture stuff, I just have to criticize this book a bit, because it’s only fair to those who may really be looking forward to it, or, worse, planning to skip the two thousand or so pages of the novels and only catch the story in graphic novel form.

Number one, way too much narration! Who the heck is the narrator? Shut up already! Number two, even though Roland’s origin is technically “the beginning,” our introduction to his story shouldn’t start here because it’s harder to care about Roland the Boy before we’ve known Roland the Man. Number three, the artist can’t or won’t draw backgrounds. I feel like I’m looking at stills from a no-budget play. Lastly, you definitely won’t understand the richness of the world or the characters if you read this first (or only). It definitely feels like they wrote it knowing only die-hard Tower fans would pick it up.

What was I saying about the big picture? Oh yes. So this book is rated for mature audiences because of cartoon breasts and many, many, many innuendos and allusions to women being raped/used and men attacking things with their penises. . . I mean guns . . . No, wait, I mean penises. An actual quote: “…to be truly a man, one must learn to wield all weapons of manhood, including the weapon that God gives men at birth.

I understand all the male characters in this book are juiced up on testosterone and the women - even the ones intended to be strong - are little more than sex objects (or at the very least, have no real agency without the love of a good man behind them - even Eddie and Susannah fall into this), but I don’t think it’s far off base to wonder if real-life dudes really think about their penises this way. Certainly, men see women as something to be conquered. Our very language is built upon this concept, for example, the Random House Dictionary definition of “deflower” is “to deprive (a woman) of virginity; to despoil of beauty, freshness, sanctity, etc.”  And how does one usually go about conquering something? Oh, yes. With weapons. Weaponized penises. Penisized weapons? (Is this blog rated PG?* I want to draw a picture of this. No? Okay…)

As not only a woman, but also a lesbian, I can’t very well make the blanket statement that “men are more obsessed with their own penises than any woman ever will be,” but, come on, men are more obsessed with their own penises more than any woman ever will be. On the flip side, I am quite fond and protective of my vagina. (Weaponized vagina? Can I draw that? Please?) I like my vagina more than I like anyone else’s vagina (but I am single right now). Still, I don’t want to conquer other vaginas with my vagina, and if I were straight, I don’t think I’d want to conquer penises either. But maybe that’s what men are afraid of (vagina dentata, anyone?), so rather than admit to being able to be conquered, they go on the offensive and play the aggressor.

I don’t know. I just want to draw an epic battle of weaponized genitals. (Please?)

Dayna Ingram is a writer and student living in the Bay Area. She received her BA in Creative Writing from Antioch College in 2008, and is currently working on her MFA in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. She works at Half Price Books, where she buys more books than she can reasonably hope to read in a lifetime.

*For those of you wondering, no this blog is not rated PG.  I did mark it has having "adult themes."  I don't care if you read it and you're underaged, but you should at least know what you're getting into.

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