Time moves so damn fast. Seems like it was just yesterday that the world was worried about Y2K, now juniors in high school were born after we switched centuries. The first comic I ever had published was over twenty years ago… and I could keep going on things that will make us all feel old, but I’ll get to the point. IDW has released a new 15th anniversary edition of 30 Days of Night.
Folks don’t talk so much about the series, but at the time you had two realitively unknown creators, Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, putting out a three-issue series from a brand new publisher and then suddenly all hell broke loose. I’d met Steve for the first time earlier in 2002. I was running a comic news site, and he’d contacted me about promoting his new book, Fused from Image. It was months before anyone was talking about 30 Days. I interviewed him for the site and he mentioned another title, but wouldn’t reveal much. A few weeks later he was doing a signing at my LCS and I swung by. We would become friends and work together on numerous occasions.
Steve had a website with an old style message board. It was a great group of people that included folks like Chris Ryall, Dan Taylor, Liam Sharp and this up and coming artist named Templesmith. (I also became friends with Ben and worked with him on a project.) Ben and Steve had worked together on some Spawn books, but now they were gearing up this new series. Steve knew the guys at IDW, a bunch of former Wildstorm folks who started up their own publisher. They were putting out stuff from Ashley Wood at the time. They agreed to do Steve and Ben’s vampire book.
The first issue was taken out and show around Hollywood before it had even hit stores. It was the right property at the right time and a bidding war took place. Sony ended up grabbing the right for an even $1 million. This put everyone involved in the project on the map. It would take five years and director David Slade to make it happen, but the 30 Days of Night movie was good. There was a direct to video follow up as well… Dark Days based on the second series. The comic would continue on through multiple series and bringing in other creators like Matt Fraction, Kody Chamberlain, Kelly Sue DeConnick, David Lapham, Bill Sienkiewicz and myself.
And where the series of books have been good, the biggest effect of the series is how it changed how new publishers worked. Prior to 30 Days of Night, new publisher seemed to try and follow the Dark Horse model… a mix of license properties and creator owned work to build up a market… now the new formula was to put out a book and try to sell it to a studio so you can fund the rest of your line. You couldn’t pitch a new comic without having the Hollywood tagline ready to go.
That’s calmed down a lot. There are no million dollar options anymore, but the pipeline from indie comics to move studios is still strong. Seems like every other movie out there is coming from one comic or another. Atomic Blonde is from Oni Press, Two Guns was from BOOM! and on and on. There are a lot of factors that contributed to the success of indie comics in Hollywood, but you can’t forget the contribution of a three-issue series from out of no where, 15 years ago.