December 23, 2010

Getting Graphic: "30 Days of Night" by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith

30 Days of Night
written by Steve Niles
illustrated by Ben Templesmith
IDW Publishing (2002)
ISBN 978-0-971977-55-6

I saw the film adaptation of this novel a few years ago and was delighted to see a genuinely good movie that was: 1) adapted from a comic book, because--let's face it--not all of them have been worth bragging about; 2) firmly entrenched in the horror genre, because--again, let's face it--Hollywood and horror rarely blend well. So, after enjoying the movie I finally got around to reading its source material, and I think is another example of how a good movie comes from a better book.

It's apparent from gazing at the very first pages that this is not a comic book presented with a conventional visual style. It's a clouded watercolor effect blended with some vivid scenes during the action. And the font choice in the voice bubbles is pitch perfect. It's gorgeous and grotesque at the same time.

And the plot is so simple, it's a wonder it hadn't been before. Well, maybe it had, but apparently not to this caliber of story. In the dead of winter, way up in Barrow, Alaska--the northern most town in America--the sun is about to set and won't rise again for thirty days. The entire town is plunged in darkness and becomes the perfect--and until now ignored--hunting ground for vampires. I love that concept.

And these vampires aren't romantic, dashing, or sparkly either. These bloodsuckers are devious predators, just the way I like 'em. The sheriff, his wife, and the rest of the town quickly catch on to what's happening when the impossible becomes very real and the whole town is plunged into chaos. And there's no way to get help thanks to a lack of transportation or communication to the outside world. Isolation and an nigh unstoppable force.

There was also a subplot involving a vampire hunter from New Orleans who learns of the vampire invasion in the arctic, but that didn't really go anywhere. Maybe it's something that's touched upon in the succeeding volumes. Who knows. Despite that minor drawback, I thought the book was a great piece of horror fiction. And while the film adaptation didn't follow the book religiously, it did do the book justice I thought.

I say if you if vampires and comic books, this combination of the two is a good book to go with if you come across it.



  1. From personal experience I can testify that the isolation in the region depicted in both the comic and movie is no joke.

    I'm finally glad to see someone who didn't bash the shit out of the movie. I liked it too and the vampires in "30 Days of Night" beat Twilight-Fairies any day.

    If you're ever looking for another great Templesmith and Niles project I'd REALLY suggest "Criminal Macabre". It's my favorite comic on the PLANET, I've read them all so far as well as the short story compilation and it's just the coolest thing ever. Aside from that I'd also say try "Welcome to Hoxford" (by Templesmith as well). I haven't read it yet (it's been a pain in the ass to find and recently I've just been too broke to buy it off of Amazon) but I've heard good things about it. The plots revolves around werewolves and psych wards. I also thought I heard a rumor that they were to make a movie off it which would be cool but we'll see.

  2. I loved this comic and have been meaning to grab up the rest of the series.

    Nice write up, Fox.

  3. J. Darko - I have Dark Days queued at my library, but I did see Criminal Macabre listed elsewhere, so I will have to put out an inter-library loan request for that one too. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Pater - Thanks.

  4. Great review .. creepy cover .. no sparkly vampires ... and the book is almost always better than the movie being proved yet again! Thanks for the review!