Tag: Steve Niles

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    The Book Was Better: 30 Days of Night

    In 2002, a three-issue comic book miniseries from IDW lit the horror comic genre on fire. The brilliantly simple premise behind this comic is right in the title: 30 Days of Night. Everyone knows vampires are nigh invulnerable and that their only major weakness is sunlight. However, what would happen if a clutch of vampires were freed from this limitation for an entire month?

    Welcome to Barrow, Alaska, population double digits. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t set for thirty days and doesn’t rise again for thirty more. Led by a vampire named Marlow, a pack of vampires descends on Barrow with ruthless aggression. These aren’t the charming, sexy creatures found in some of the modern stories. Not even close. They’re feral monsters, taking immense pleasure in the suffering of their prey.

    30 Days of Night

    Standing between the vampire brood and the surviving residents of the town are Eben Olemaun and his wife Stella. Eben is the town sheriff and is investigating a wave of petty crimes around town prior to the invasion. Weird stuff, but nothing too serious. Dogs and cell phones turning up missing, that kind of thing. When everything hits the fan, these strange occurrences begin to make sense.

    30 Days of Night Doesn’t Feature Your Normal Vampires

    Writer Steve Niles (Criminal Macabre, Disciples, Aleister Arcane) didn’t allow the Olemauns any convenient “outs” when penning the graphic novel. The sun isn’t going to rise in a few hours, so there’s no time for the humans to regroup and plan. Garlic is a joke. Who even thought of that garlic thing? (Ancient Egyptians. I know.) Crosses are ineffective. Shotgun blasts to the face only make the vampires angrier and uglier. The only thing that seems to work is decapitation.

    Steve Niles actually worked on the movie script five years later when Columbia Pictures partnered with Dark Horse Entertainment to bring the story to the silver screen. This lent continuity between the graphic novel source material and the movie. The major plot points remained mostly untouched between the two mediums.

    The Changes Between Movie and Comic Are Minimal

    There are only a few major differences between the graphic novel and the film script. The movie script has omitted two minor subplots. The book had a conspiracy theorist mother/son duo in New Orleans trying to prove the existence of vampires to the world.

    The other omitted subplot had a second vampire leader descend on the town and question the wisdom of a feeding frenzy in a world where vampires had been relegated to folklore. Since no one really believes in vampires, bringing attention to their existence with this feeding frenzy could be suicidal in the long game.

    30 Days of Night

    An obvious difference is that the graphic novel doesn’t really have any other human roles besides Eben, Stella, and The Stranger. The series is so fast paced and brutal in its pacing, there really isn’t any room for extra characters. They aren’t needed to move the story. The movie, needing to fill two hours of screen time, added and developed a few more characters.

    In the 30 Days of Night comic, Eben and Stella are happily married. The movie begins with their relationship being strained almost to the point of divorce. By the end of the film, they come around and realize how much they still love one another. This was likely another pacing issue.

    Ben Templesmith Gives The Comic The Edge

    The most glaring difference between the page and the screen is the overall aesthetic. There is just no way the filmmakers would have been able to match the art by Ben Templesmith (Fell, Criminal Macabre, Silent Hill: Dying Inside). Using an almost trash polka palette (with the addition of deep, dark blues), Templesmith brought a unique blend of surreal images and photorealism that would be impossible to recreate in another medium.

    Clearly, some changes have to be made in order to make a comic book mini series into a feature length film. In this case, having the original writer on the team that penned the movie script meant that those changes were minimal and made sense in context with the source material. The endings of both stories are almost identical. The major plot points weave between both stories almost seamlessly.

    Based solely on the artwork by Ben Templesmith, I’m going to declare the 30 Days of Night comic was better. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the film; there just isn’t any comparison to the imagery in the pages of the graphic novel.

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    Hail to the King: Steve Niles Commits to Ash & the Army of Darkness

    Ash and the Army of DarknessWhen Army of Darkness debuted on movie screens in 1992, it was both the third installment of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series and its own unique creature. After defeating a demon in Evil Dead II and losing his hand, Ash Williams is thrown back into the Middle Ages, where he fights horrific Deadites, retrieves the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (unleashing unexpected consequences), and flirts with the alluring Sheila — before returning to his own time.

    Blending over-the-top horror, a fish-out-of-water story, and absurd humor, the movie had a respectable — if relatively modest — run in the theaters, before becoming a monster cult hit for millions of fans on video, thanks in large part to Bruce Campbell’s gleeful turn as hapless hero Ash.

    Now Dynamite Entertainment is bringing a direct sequel to comics with Ash and the Army of Darkness, written by horror icon Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, Criminal Macabre) and beginning right after the events of the movie! Niles has created some incredible horror stories in his career and is an exciting choice for the series — particularly because he’s committed to an entire year!

    We had a chance to interview Niles for Horror Month — check out his insights, below, and check out our five-page preview of Ash and the Army of Darkness #1! Plus, make sure to pre-order Ash and the Army of Darkness to save 20-35%.

    BREAKING NEWS: Since we conducted our interview, Steve Niles’ home was severely damaged by a major flood. We’ve included information on how you can help at the bottom of this post!

    TFAW: What attracted you to Ash and the Army of Darkness — for a whole year, at that?

    Steve Niles: Well, I love the Raimi movies, so when Nick [Barucci, President of Dynamite Entertainment] asked me to do Army of Darkness, it was a no-brainer. We had tried in the past, but my schedule was a nightmare. Timing was right this time. The other reason is I wanted to do something longer than four issues, which is my usual length. I wanted to try doing some long-form [storytelling], and this came up.

    Ash and the Army of Darkness Ash and the Army of Darkness Preview Page 1 Ash and the Army of Darkness Preview Page 2

    TFAW: What were your favorite aspects of the movie?

    SN: I love how the horror and comedy play alongside each other, and I love Ash as a character.

    TFAW: This is a direct sequel, right? Where is Ash — in the present, or the past?

    SN: I pick up after the last frame of the film. To me one of the best things about AoD was the setting, having a modern man thrown into the past. My 12-issue run takes place almost entirely in the Dark Ages. Things have gotten much worse.

    TFAW: Will we see any other characters from the movie? What about Sheila?

    SN: You should see just about all of the characters as one point or another. Oldman Wiseman plays a big part.

    TFAW: Has Ash grown or learned anything in your pages, or is he still a (mostly) loveable screwup?

    SN: Ash? Learned something? Of course not. He makes every bad situation worse.

    Ash and the Army of Darkness Preview Page 3 Ash and the Army of Darkness Preview Page 4 Ash and the Army of Darkness Preview Page 5

    TFAW: Will this be more of a humorous story, or more of a horror story?

    SN: I am playing the horror as straight as I can. Really most of the humor comes from Ash and his reactions to the horror.

    TFAW: You’ve written some indelible horror stories, including 30 Days of Night and Criminal Macabre. Are there any aspects of horror that are neglected these days, in your opinion?

    SN: I think horror is doing just fine right now. We have Walking Dead and tons of horror comics of the stands. The Conjuring bitch-slapped the tent poles at the box office over the summer. I think we’re doing fine. I would like to see less watered-down, CW/kiddie horror, but I don’t really pay attention, so I don’t care. I always hope those silly shows are just gateways to bigger and better horror.

    Ash and the Army of DarknessTFAW: How many projects are you juggling right now?

    SN: Just five or six right now. I’ve slowed down.

    Ash and the Army of Darkness is sure to make a splash — make sure to pre-order issues #1 and #2 now to save 20-35%.

    We want to thank Steve Niles for his time, and wish him and his family a swift recovery from the flood that recently damaged their home. If you’d like information on how to help, you can get the details at ComicsAlliance now.




    What’s your favorite Steve Niles comic, and why? Post your comments below!

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    Steve Niles Reflects on 20+ Years of Criminal Macabre

    Criminal Macabre Omnibus Vol. 2Dark Horse Month was so big, it couldn’t be contained in just one month! Up next: an excellent interview with writer Steve Niles, the creator of such seminal horror comics as Criminal Macabre and 30 Days of Night. With the Criminal Macabre Omnibus Vol. 2 coming out in January and a Criminal Macabre story that just concluded in Dark Horse Presents, now was the perfect time to catch up with Steve and ask him what’s next for Cal!

    Read on for our exclusive interview! Plus, enjoy an exclusive preview of the Criminal Macabre Omnibus Vol. 2! WARNING: SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t read Criminal Macabre: No Peace for Dead Men.

    TFAW.com: You created Cal MacDonald more than 20 years ago–how have you changed in that time?

    Steve Niles: Ha! I think I’ve changed a little more then Cal has. Back when I created him I was probably a lot more like him then I care to admit. Luckily, in 20 years I’ve mellowed. Cal hasn’t, of course. I also find it really fascinating that I was younger than Cal when I started writing, and now I’m older then him. Damn fictional characters age so slow.

    TFAW.com: Cal, of course, has undergone a major change–he’s dead after the events of No Peace for Dead Men. He seems to think it’s a temporary problem–is it?

    SN: This has been in the cards for Cal since the beginning. One of the big unanswered questions–through the novels and comics–has been why do the ghouls follow Cal everywhere? Well, now we know why. It might be permanent. It’s up to Cal. He was a werewolf once (See second novel: Guns, Drugs & Monsters) and he got out of that with a little help from the Devil. I know Cal will never give up trying to become human again, but for right now, he’s stuck.

    Criminal Macabre Dark Horse PresentsTFAW.com: It’s been so funny to see Cal, who’s always been so cranky with the ghouls (and, well, everyone) having to adapt to being one himself. Was this always part of the plan?

    SN: I have to admit I’m enjoying watching him squirm. Cal has always put a big defensive wall up between himself and the ghouls. Now that he’s one of them he has to find his place in the world. I’m having a lot of fun with Cal right now.

    TFAW.com: Now that he’s a ghoul, is Cal finally drug free?

    SN: Not really, but nothing works quite the way it did before. One thing I always try to do is vary what monsters can and can’t do. No two humans are alike. Why would monsters? Cal is going to have one hell of a ride as he works with his new self.

    TFAW.com: One of my favorite parts of the series is Cal’s relationship with Mo’Lock. Has it ever been explained why Mo’Lock patiently hangs around and takes Cal’s abuse?

    SN: I get into a lot more detail about Cal and Mo’Lock’s relationship in the novels and short stories. They were brought together by fate and in Savage Membrane we learn that they have a lot in common. There’s nothing really supernatural about their friendship, though. They are just friends.

    Mo’Lock knows the abuse is just how Cal deals with the world and secretly, I think Mo’Lock really loves the guy. I love the dynamic between them because now they’ve been together so long, they are like an old married couple; they seem to hate each other, but there’s a huge amount of affection behind every barb.

    Criminal Macabre Omnibus Vol. 2 Page 1TFAW.com: You’re always involved in a lot of different projects–you currently also have the new 30 Days of Night and Wulf on your plate, as well. Where does Criminal Macabre fit in for you? What itch does it scratch, compared to your other projects?

    SN: I don’t want to say writing Cal is easy, but he is the most comfortable character to write. Cal is like going home for me. I can always slide into his shoes and look at the world through his cynical eyes, and it just flows. Cal is an absolute priority for me. He’s my favorite child. There I said it. I hope, hope, hope that this new team can stay together for awhile and eventually go to series again.

    TFAW.com: The Criminal Macabre/Goon crossover one-shot was fantastic. What other series/characters would you like Cal to “visit”?

    SN: Well, the guest appearance from Hellboy was a big hint. I’d love to have Cal and Hellboy team up for a story. It would be fun because I don’t think they’d get along at all. The Criminal Macabre/Goon crossover was a lot of fun. It’s probably the silliest story I’ve ever written, but that was the point.

    Criminal Macabre Omnibus Vol. 2 Page 2Crossovers are tough, because usually the story is pretty weak. I wanted to just get these two smart-asses in trouble as soon as possible because all the fun came out in their interaction. I wrote a really rough script, and then Powell came in and tweaked Franky and the Goon. It was just plain fun, and I hope that comes across.

    TFAW.com: I could kind of see him as a love interest for Buffy for three issues or so–she’s dated the undead before, and Cal seems like less drama than Angel. Can you make that happen?

    SN: Isn’t Buffy in High School? This is Twilight, ya know?

    TFAW.com: When you started out, did you ever think you’d have enough Criminal Macabre stories for two omnibusses?

    SN: Honestly, no. I never thought the character would catch on at all. I wrote Cal for fun long before anything would ever see publication, so it’s very strange to see everything being collected now. But I’m very happy, too, because with the new collections, a new generation of readers are discovering the stuff, and there’s a lot to give them!

    TFAW.com: Why did you choose Dark Horse for Criminal Macabre?

    SN: I’ve known Mike Richardson since I was a kid, and being published by Dark Horse was always a big deal for me. They were the first to publish Cal back in DHP in the ’90s, so when I pitched a series DH seemed like the logical home for it. That and DH gets what Cal is, and they have always been big supporters of the character and me.

    Criminal Macabre Omnibus Vol. 2 Page 3TFAW.com: Are there plans for more Criminal Macabre after “Die, Die, My Darling” concludes in DHP #6?

    SN: Part one is already in the can and I send off the script for part two in . . . aw jeez, I’m late. Gotta go write Cal!!

    Our thanks to Steve for taking a break to answer our questions! Make sure to pre-order the Criminal Macabre Omnibus Vol. 2 and pick up the latest Cal story in Dark Horse Presents!




    Can you believe that Cal is a ghoul? Are you looking forward to more of his story? Post your comments below!

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    My Demon Baby — A Cal McDonald Joint

    I couldn’t wait to get into the office to post today’s featured horror book, Criminal Macabre: My Demon Baby, which you can get for just $9.99 (sale good today only). Collected in this TPB is one of Steve Niles’ funnest Cal McDonald romps.

    To say that Cal’s been through hell and back would be a misstatement. He’s been to hell, all right, and he seems to be stuck there for good. When we last checked in on Cal, he and Mo’Lock had just witnessed the vile, horrifying transformation of Cal’s lovely ex, Sabrina Lynch, into a minion of the vampire Nosferatu.

    After that Cal disappeared for a bit, and at the start of our new series, Mo’Lock finds him just in time to lure him off the filthy couch in an abandoned house with an offer he can’t refuse-either he gets up and takes a new case, or Mo’Lock will kill him before the drugs can. And what a case it is.

    Devil worshipers in sunny SoCal are doing their best to bring Satan into the world, and by the looks of things, Cal’s already too late. What does one feed a bouncing baby Beelzebub, anyway?

    A mixture of supernatural horror, noir-type investigations, undead foes and rampant drug use, Criminal Macabre is pretty cool title to fall into if you haven’t already discovered it.

    Check out other great horror titles on our Horror Month page!

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