EXCLUSIVE: IDW Publishing of San Diego will adapt Sleeping Beauties, the bestselling 2017 novel by Stephen King and Owen King, as a 10-part comic book epic by the international tandem of Canadian novelist Rio Youers (The Forgotten Girl) and London-based artist and architect Alison Sampson (Winnebago Graveyard).
IDW has the series slated for a high-profile launch in early 2020.
Sleeping Beauties is a dark fantasy tale that some critics have framed as an gripping allegory for toxic masculinity and contemporary gender politics in the wake of the #metoo movement. In the story a plague called Aurora (named after Disney’s knackered princess) has left the world’s women in a deep, cocooned slumber that exiles them to their dreams. Society, meanwhile, is left entirely in the hands of men and quickly plunges into savagery.
The provocative novel of 700-plus pages was published by Simon & Schuster and marked the first collaboration between the Kings, father Stephen and son Owen. Stephen and his eldest son, bestselling author Joe Hill, previously collaborated on a novella called Throttle. Hill has worked extensively with IDW, which has published his work on comics series such a Locke & Key, Thumbprint, and The Cape. IDW also published an adaptation of Throttle in 2012.
Owen King says he can sleep easy knowing IDW is handling the adaptation: “We are so excited about Rio and Alison’s vision for Sleeping Beauties. We’ve been fans of Rio’s for years and Alison’s artwork is simply extraordinary. IDW couldn’t have found a better pairing.”
Chiming in, the elder storytelling King added: “We’re looking forward to seeing our work in this exciting format.”
Sampson said the design of that format is shaping up to be an evocative one thanks to the opportunities presented by the source material.
“The story is very suggestive for interesting art, with magical themes interwoven through a very real place setting in Appalachia, and the opportunity to draw some truly diverse people,” Sampson said. “Places, spaces, gender, bodies, character, relationships, political themes, emotions, a challenging (and almost certainly innovative) design job, and a great story – it’s all here. I cannot wait to share what we are making.”
Youers said he’s also excited by the project but he conceded that there’s been other emotions as well. The only thing scarier than reading a Stephen King book, Youers said, may be adapting one.
“To work on anything with the King name attached is surreal, dizzying, and somewhat terrifying,” Youers admitted with candor. “As soon as my feet touch terra firma, I will focus on my goal: to stay true to the novel’s spirit, and to deliver a page-turning, visually impacting experience that will appeal to readers of both Stephen and Owen King’s fiction, and to comics fans the world over.”
Chris Ryall, IDW President & Publisher, was the writer who adapted the King &. Hill story Throttle back in 2012. He predicts that Sleeping Beauties will add up to be a signature success considering the sum of its parts.
“There was something magical about the combination of Stephen King’s and Owen King’s specific skills on the pages of the Sleeping Beauties novel, an alchemy that resulted in a story so of the moment and yet so timeless,” says Chris Ryall. “Rio and Allison are fashioning a graphic retelling that synthesizes that same sense of wonder while very much making the comic its own thing entirely. We’re ecstatic to be doing this with all involved.”
Below, an early image by Alison Sampson for IDW Publishing’s adaptation of Sleeping Beauties.