What’s Playing in the Studio

August 19th, 2008 | Posted in General

It’s been a while since I posted about the audiobooks I often enjoy, or at least listen to, while working at certain stages of a project in the studio. I’ve mentioned before that I only listen to audiobooks when I am inking or painting, and only then to books I have already read or am very familiar with. This is because at the rough/layout/pencil stages of a project there is too much concentration and thinking needed to pay any attention at all to an audiobook story. Even when I am at the inking and coloring stages, I cannot listen to a book that I have never heard or read, because I necessarily need to focus in and out of my task at hand and will likewise zone in and out of the story… I end up rewinding a lot and cannot follow it properly. So, as a result I have a library of audiobooks that have correspondingly well thumbed copies on my bookshelf.

Several staples get listended to at least every year, if not more often. J.R.R. Tolkien‘s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy is a delight on audiobook. Robert Inglis’s narration of the unabridged entire trilogy and it’s appendices is fantastic. “One Voice Chronological: The Complete Holmes Canon” read by my friend, the incomparable David Ian Davies, also gets played a few times a year, consisting of all 56 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Holmes short stories. By also listening to the four Conan Doyle Holmes novels, it’s possible to enjoy the entire collection of official Holmes adventures in unabridged audio books. The “Harry Potter” books also get played at least once a year.

Just lately Frank Herbert‘s “Dune” saga has been appearing in unabridged audiobook form online. They are now up to my favorite of the books “God Emperor of Dune“. I have downloaded and listened to the previous three book in the series, but wonl;t be getting “God Emperor” or later books. This is one case where the transition to audiobook just does not work. The narration and production is fine… it’s the subject matter and style of writing that makes it difficult to listen to. With the possible exception of the original “Dune” novel, which is the most conventional of the books, Herbert’s stories are very tedious and long on endless conversations where very little new is said or imparted, and the pschychobabble nature of his dialog makes it very hard to listen to. These are books you need to read and digest.

By far my favorite author to listen to on audiobook is Stephen King. His stories are made for audiobook. Full of engaging characters and dialogue, well paced with humor, backstory, character development, plot and plenty of action and scares, they are like visiting with old friends and never get tiresome. “The Dark Tower” gets a listen twice a year at least. Currently I’m listening to one of my all time favorites, “Salem’s Lot“. Hard to believe this was only King’s second novel. It’s a great telling of the vampire legend, and it’s one of the most frightening books I’ve ever read. The audiobook is particularly great, with just the right vocal treatment by Ron McLarty… the New England accents are crucial in any King story and he makes them funny when the need to be and transparent when that serves his (and King’s) purpose. Highly recommended.

I’ve been complaining that King and his “people” need to get on the stick and record some of his classic books in audiobook form. I’ve been especially miffed that several of his books are already in unabridged audiobook form on cassette but apparently nobody has gotten around to transferring them to digital for download. I remember listening to “Dolores Claiborne” and “Gerald’s Game” on cassette years ago, where are they on Audible.com?

Looks like somebody finally got smart. Less than a week ago some older King books have appeared on audiobook at Audible including “Dolores Claiborne“, “Gerald’s Game“, “Insomnia“, the “Past Midnight’ shorts and one of the most underrated King books, “Needful Things“. The latter reminds me a bit of “Salem’s Lot“, when a stranger comes to a small New England town and opens a little boutique store… and ends up being more then they bargained for.

That’s all well and good, but where is “The Stand“?? Where is “It“, “Cujo“, “The Dead Zone” or “Pet Sematary“? There are a host of King books begging for audiobook treatment. Hopefully they are at least being planned for eventual release. I’ve got endless hours of studio work begging to be sonically filled with some revisited King classics. Come on, Steve!


  1. SteveH says:

    Last month I finished Duma Key by Stephen King and found it to be a wonderful read as the story revolved around art for the theme of the main character and story line of the book. I recommend it Tom if you have not yet read or listened to it!

  2. Tom says:

    Hi Steve! Thanks for the recommendation. I have a copy of “Duma Key” and i have downloaded the audiobook but I must read the book first before I can listen to it in the studio… and I have no time to read. As a reader, I’m like a crack junkie. I cannot read a chapter or two before bed and resume the next evening. I end up staying up all night devouring a book. Reading is for vacations for me these days. I do plan on reading both this and “Lisey’s Story”, two King books i hve yet to find the time for.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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