[New Spring #1 Cover]The long-delayed comic-book adaptation of New Spring may finally be coming to a close.

Since reading The Gathering Storm (which was very good), I’ve been saying that the previous book, Knife of Dreams, was the point where Robert Jordan finally got The Wheel of Time back on track. Thinking back, though, it was actually the expanded version of New Spring that got me excited about the series again after the dull, plodding Crossroads of Twilight.

Dabel Brothers started an 8-issue comic-book adaptation of the prequel back in 2005, published by Red Eagle Entertainment. It got off to a great start…until the studio and publisher started to feud, and the comics ceased publication entirely after #5 came out in early 2006.

Two years later (summer 2008), Dabel Brothers announced that they would start adapting the main Wheel of Time series, but at the time had no plans to complete New Spring. Finally, in April 2009, they announced that they’d be finishing the miniseries. #6 came out in May, as did the Eye of the World prologue, but #7 didn’t come out until August. It’s November now, with no sign of #8…or of Wheel of Time #2. Meanwhile, Bleeding Cool has been reporting financial problems — like not paying artists — and the Dabel Bros. website has gone offline.

It doesn’t sound promising…but there is some hope. I posted about several stalled comic miniseries at Speed Force, and Dabel Brothers’ Derek Ruiz* stopped in to comment:

NS #8 News coming soon. It’s complete and ready for printing. Once I have more to tell you on release date I’ll make my way back here. [emphasis added]

He didn’t mention Eye of the World, and I didn’t follow up. One thing at a time, after all!

As I understand it, Tor has the rights to publish the collected editions — and I suspect that’s where the main audience for this is going to be. If Dabel Brothers can ship the final issue of New Spring soon, Tor can have a hardcover in bookstores next year to tide fans over while they wait for Brandon Sanderson to finish Towers of Midnight.

*I don’t really have a way to verify it was him, but the email address does match a previous comment.

Wheel of Time: The Gathering StormThis weekend I finished reading the new Wheel of Time novel, The Gathering Storm. Now that I’ve read it, I can definitely say that Brandon Sanderson was a good choice to finish the series from Robert Jordan’s notes, and that splitting the final book into three was the right approach. It may be a doorstopper, but it would be difficult to cut more than a tiny amount without diminishing the impact of what remained.

No spoilers unless you don’t want to know which characters appear in the book. In which case, stop reading now. It focuses primarily on Rand, Egwene, and their respective entourages, though most of the other major characters make appearances. If I were to guess, the next book (Towers of Midnight) will probably focus mainly on Rand and Mat, and maybe Elayne. Katie reminded me that the title is a Seanchan reference, plus there’s another mission — well, quest, really — being built up involving a tower. (Not to mention the White Tower and Black Tower, of course!)

As in Knife of Dreams (and unlike Crossroads of Twilight), things happen in this book! There’s a growing sense of urgency throughout the novel, and everyone who can is pushing hard to have everything in place for the coming apocalypse. For some characters it’s a personal journey. For others it’s political. And for some, it’s simply geographical.

As far as meshing with the rest of the series goes, the only thing that stood out for me was that points of view would switch in the middle of a chapter more often than I expected. It’s not that Robert Jordan never did it, but I remember it being rare outside of the prologues. Brandon Sanderson is more likely to take what would have been two shorter, thematically linked chapters and combine them into one. Katie also noticed one spot early on that one character from Tarabon didn’t speak with the Taraboner dialect — but only the one instance, and one in which the phrasing would have been awkward. It still reads like a Wheel of Time book.

I wish Robert Jordan had been able to finish his epic himself, but it looks like we’re getting the next best thing.

I missed this news from a couple of weeks ago: Tor has announced that A Memory of Light, the final Wheel of Time book, is going to be split into three volumes. A Memory of Light Part 1: The Gathering Storm is due on November 3, 2009. Working titles for the others are AMOL Part 2: Shifting Winds and AMOL Part 3: Tarmon Gai’don.

Author Brandon Sanderson, finishing the book from Robert Jordan’s manuscript and notes, explains how the decision was made: basically, it was turning into a 750,000-word novel. Consider that 250,000 is seriously long already, and Nanowrimo considers just 50,000 to be the lower limit. So we’re talking the equivalent of 15 Nanowrimo Novels. Not only would it need the proverbial luggage cart, but he wouldn’t be able to finish and revise it in time for a 2009 release. They figured 2011 at the earliest.

So they’re splitting it into three physical books, the first coming out in 2009 as promised to fans, and the others following — one hopes — in 2010 and 2011.

On one hand, I’m annoyed. I thought we were one book away from the finale. I thought we were only going to have one book worth of material polished by another author. And suddenly the single $25–30 purchase for one hardcover is turning into a probable total of $90 (over the course of several years, sure, but still…). Regardless of the actual reasons, it feels like a money-grab by the publisher trying to squeeze two more books out of a dead author’s fan base.

On the other hand… I’m not exactly surprised. Given the sheer amount of detail in Robert Jordan’s magnum opus, the number of open plot threads, and the scale of building up to full-on Armageddon, I think I’d rather see everything handled properly than get the Cliff Notes version of the series conclusion.

Some entertainment stuff I’m looking forward to this year:

Movies: Coraline

YouTube also has the trailer in HD.

I discovered Sandman late, borrowing the trades from one of my (younger) brother’s friends around 1998 or so, then immediately tracking down my own copies. I lucked out and got a complete set on eBay for something like $70. Since then I’ve devoured most of Neil Gaiman’s work, be it in comics, prose, or movie form. The original novel of Coraline was very good, and it’s been adapted by the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is among my favorite movies…and what I’ve seen of the film suggests that they get it. It’s hard to believe it’s only two weeks away!

Other movies: Oddly enough, I’m only mildly interested in Terminator: Salvation, Transformers 2: Can’t Remember the Subtitle, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (the films have been steadily deteriorating after peaking with #3, IMHO), Star Trek, and Watchmen. I’ll probably see all of them, but none of them have me nearly as excited.

Comics, books, music, etc. after the cut: Continue reading

Dabel Brothers Publishing is going to adapt The Wheel of Time to comics, with the first issue coming out in December. Del Rey will release the collected editions. This is the same studio that did the New Spring adaptation a few years ago, an 8-issue miniseries that broke down 5 issues in due to conflicts with the series’ publisher, Red Eagle Entertainment.

(As near as I can tell, Red Eagle existed for the sole purpose of buying the movie and comic rights to Wheel of Time, and managed to run both of them into the ground. Robert Jordan himself had some rather angry words on the subject of Red Eagle, and was looking forward to their contract expiring so that he’d never have to deal with them again. “Once they are completely out of the picture,” he added, “we’ll see what happens.”)

Since I was very impressed with the issues of New Spring that actually came out, I think this is great news. I’m a little apprehensive given the number of publishers Dabel has gone through in the last few years, especially since properly adapting Wheel of Time at one issue a month will probably take more than a decade (I’m thinking 12 issues per novel).

I hope they’ll finish New Spring first. There’s only 3 issues left, and that would give them material for an actual book early on to start building buzz.

Update (Nov 2009): This post seems to be getting extra traffic with the new book coming out. The current status of the comics seems to be stalled again at New Spring #7 and Eye of the World #1, though there should be news on New Spring “soon.”