Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Joe Hill and Stephen King on Richard Matheson's "Duel"

After posting about the Horror Comic Awards last month I've been playing catch-up on all the great titles I've missed. One that I've gotten really into, ROAD RAGE, is not my usual fare, but because I'm a big fan of the writers involved I couldn't help being curious.

Author and graphic novelist Joe Hill (Locke & Key, Horns) collaborated with his father, noted do-I-even-need-to-tell-you-how-accomplished-he-is-novelist Stephen King on a story called "Throttle" that paid homage to Richard Matheson's "Duel." Both stories were adapted in comic book versions by Chris Ryall, and now come bound in a nice hardcover with introductions by Hill and King. I don't normally go in for the sort of look and setting that these two stories share, but something about the dry, hot, dusty road really appealed to me in this case. The art and paneling were very well done, which I expect is why they were not only nominated as Best Adaptation of 2012, but won with 25% of the votes.

Matheson's original story was also made into a TV movie in 1971 starring Dennis Weaver. While I haven't yet read "Duel," I did take some time to watch the film. This isn't the type of horror you often see these days; serial killers, buckets of blood and gore, supernatural creatures and vengeful ghosts. It's a slow build up of something so common and every day that just like the main character, David Mann, you don't believe it's really happening.

I think this hit me especially because I'm on the road a lot. I've spent many thousands of miles in one car or another over the past 10 years, especially because I've had to take jobs that were not nearby where I was living at the time. I still work about 15 miles away from home, but it feels like a cakewalk compared to the 30 miles I was driving to my previous employer. A lot of that time is spent on Chicagoland tollways, where apparently you check your brain at the on-ramp.

I've also almost been run off the road by a truck before. If you've never had it happen to you, it's terrifying. I don't recall having done anything to deserve it, so I have no clue what the driver's problem was. But I don't think anything justifies endangering someone's life like that. Much more often I have almost been in serious accidents not because of malice, but because the driver was not paying attention, driving too fast, stubborn about slowing down or maybe out of pure ignorance. I'm convinced that when I die, it will be in a road accident because of the things I see every day.

If you can identify with this as well, I would highly recommend seeing the movie or reading the story/graphic novel ROAD RAGE. The ending is really powerful compared to the slow build-up, especially if you get as pissed as I do about the other drivers on the road these days.

Road Rage at Amazon (you can preview the artwork)
Best Adaptation of 2012 via Comic Monsters
Duel via IMDB.com
Duel: Terror Stories by Richard Matheson via Goodreads

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