As we make this trip down Graphic Novel lane for the holidays, I don’t want to leave out horror fans and one of the best horror series of the 2000’s was a book that not only helped put a publisher on the map but also changed how the industry worked in someways. 30 Days of Night was a straight forward vampire novel by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith. They had worked together on Spawn the Dark Ages but neither were household names at the time. The book came out from IDW Publishing, a company created by former Wildstorm employees and who had published books by Ashley Wood at that point.
The story tells of a small Alaskan town called Barrow where the sun would set for 30 days straight and a group of vampires decided to come make it their playground. The town was protected by Eben and Stella Oleuman, the local sheriff and deputy… and husband and wife. Its a story about survival. What the handful of people who survived the initial vampire attack did to stay alive and even take back their town. But it goes deeper than that. If you strip away the supernatural trappings, its the story of love and sacrifice and protecting your home from an invading force and overwhelming odds.
The series quickly put Niles and Templesmith on the map. There would be multiple mini-series to follow, two of which I got to work on myself. But there was something so brilliantly simple and straightforward about the initial story that very few comics or even films can obtain. Barrow wasn’t a secret and just about every writer I knew kicked themselves for not coming up with the idea themselves.
30 Days of Night was almost a perfect storm. Besides launching the creators’ careers, it also gave IDW the publishing clout to try other new projects and even pick up some big name licensed properties. It also kicked off the independent comics to film craze. When the first issue came out, many of the studios recognized the potential of the story and a bidding war took place. The film rights were finally optioned by Sony for $1 Million dollars and David Slade (Hard Candy) was attached to direct. Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, and Ben Foster starred in the 2007 adaptation.
The book would make a great gift for vampire fans who felt that the undead shouldn’t glisten in the sun. For fans of NIles and Templesmith and for anyone looking to write comics as it is almost a clinic on story telling in a limited space. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see their family’s faces when the relative you buy it for opens it up and shows everyone the cover?