Saturday, February 4, 2012

"The town is burning...

...there's carnage everywhere."
"30 Days of Night" by Steven Niles (Compilation published 2008)...A Cinful Review...

I've always loved comics, and I'm a graphic novel snob meaning I only like to read the good stuff. I grew up smothering my eyes in  X-Men, Spider Man and many other comics too numerous to name. Lenore (Little Dead Girl) by Roman Dirge is one of my new favorites. I expect a lot from a comic or a graphic novel, and I'm envious of those who can team up and create a piece of work that results in a fun read. Naturally, I was anxious to devour this bit of horror. It was new for me, and ultimately refreshing. The fact that Clive Barker endorsed it in the intro only added blood to the fire.

The story starts out with one of my greatest nightmares...being stuck somewhere in an environment of intractable cold, on the eve of thirty days of darkness. The images are bleak, and I made it worse by reading this novel at 2AM during one of my insufferable bouts of insomnia. 

It's a petty item to point out at first, but one of the things that bothered me (as I planned my commentary) was that the first few pages had no page numbers. Bear with me because I'm hand counting as I go along...

Page 6: People are reporting their cell phones missing, and there's an image of a burnt pile of cellphones on the page.  I found myself wondering..."How the hell did people report missing cellphones if they didn't have a phone?" Maybe all of them had landlines too, but I think about Barrow, Alaska (so remote) and I consider my own phone bills and my conservationist attitude toward my hard earned dollars...and I wondered that many folks out there had both a landline and a cellphone. At my home (in California) our family all carry cell phones and we quit having a hardline. It was too expensive to have both, and the only people who called the landline were soliciters, so...

(Of course, the dates in the novel say the story occurred in 2001. Back in 2001, I barely knew what a cell phone was. It wasn't until 2004, when I moved from Japan back to the U.S., that I finally owned a cell, so having both back then is likely.)

 Later, call me petty, but on page 37, Niles writes, "Endless night, and an endless supply of blood and meat". The idea of vampires finding a place where there was 30 days of night was brilliant. Then the fact that the boss vamp showed up and claimed how idiotic the blood feast was, and how it compromised their mythological existence, was even more brilliant. The reality of the population of Barrow, however, was overlooked. In 2001, Barrow's entire population was listed as 4,581.  This hardly makes the blood and meat "endless", although Niles writes later that the population was only 462 (a big difference in number). He also mentions that people leave before the winter. I had a hard time believing over 4,000 people would vacate their home for that time period.  And, logically, one would think the blood suckers would like to go back to a place like Barrow in the future and have another red-cell banquet, so killing everyone just didn't make sense. 

Be that as it may (suspending my disbelief there....)...I found the protagonist's (Eben's) solution to taking on the vampires, interesting. After he turned himself into a vampire, he was still able to control himself well enough to fight for the humans, destroy the head honcho and not munch on his wife. In the end, it was a sappy love story, as Eben sacrificed himself on the first day of light because he couldn't endure not being with his mate. Ashes to ashes, and you know the rest.

Reading the back cover,  it's obvious this story continues on and now I'm curious about this series and would like to read more. Another thing that bothered me was, I had no sense of what part the Louisiana folks played. A mother sent her son to Barrow to get some video recording, he dies just after sending the video feed, and we never learn the link between the Louisiana folks and the vampires. I'm guessing that info comes later in other episodes. 

Overall, I loved reading this piece and the artwork was awesome. The monochromatic color with the exception of scarlet (maybe a yellow or green here and there) was an eerie touch. And Robbie Robbin's artwork was raw, rough and unrefined. The stark color increased the overall feeling of cold and brutality. One visual problem (for me) was that with my poor eyesight I had a hard time reading the 'vampire' script and I would have appreciated larger text. I found myself wishing I could read this in an 'enhanced' form online or in an e-book where I could enlarge the photos and the print. The entire time I read through the story, I kept thinking a graphic novel like this would be fun in an e-enhanced version. (Music for the background, maybe even a voice-over for the text.) Gotta admit I just bought the DVD and can't wait to see how it compares to the print.

In conclusion, high praise for "30 Days of Night" and now that I've finished the book at almost 4AM, I'm sure I'll have a couple of hours of fitful dozing before the sun rises. And when the sun rises, well, it's then that I'm sure I'll sleep like the dead.



  1. I loved the movie! I would love to what you thought of it.
    I agree with you that the vampire race should have wanted to return to Barrow for another snack. I thought that the choice of destroying the town made sense if the leader was trying to protect the vampire race. Any survivor might tell the story and expose the vampire race. This is exactly what happens in the second poorly done movie. Stella writes a book and gives presentations about her experience.

  2. I received the move in the mail a week or so ago, and watched it with my husband. It was a fun movie, although the inconsistencies from the book bothered me. The book made more sense. But all in all the film was well done. :)
    My husband argued that Eben wouldn't have had enough sunlight on the first 'lit' day for him to die because of solar rays. I agreed (but I didn't let him know). :) He said it would have been fleeting moments of light.

    1. I always enjoy reading your posts and comments, because you notice things I rarely do. I get so involved in the story that a lot of the times I don't notice these little inconsistencies. I appreciate you pointing them out, because then I look at things in a new way.

      You're right about the sunlight in the movie. I didn't think of that while watching it. I guess it just proves how important thorough research is when writing fiction.

    2. While I would agree with your husband logically, it wouldn't have made as striking of a scene. I did think about the fact that it's not like a light switch that gets turned off, that it is a gradual thing, but I was able to suspend disbelief. That said, I think I did make the same comment your husband did when I watched the movie the first time.

  3. I agree with you that the cell phone vs. landline issue is shaky at best. Not only that, but I would bet that a lot of people out there would have HAM radios or something of the like that wouldn’t need a major power source or communications station to operate. There are a lot of plot holes in the story that I had to overlook for it to remain believable; however, when a story can catch my interest, I’m willing to overlook a lot of things to enjoy it.

    1. Yes, HAM radios would (and still are) king up there. I don't imagine cell phones would get great reception, and SAT phones would be expensive. HAM radios have an enormous range and would be fairly cheap as you can buy older, used models.

  4. Funny, I didn't even think about the cell phone issue; although, in a town that size, they could probably walk to the police station if necessary. A little impractical (my own town is about that size), but do-able. Also, maybe they borrowed a neighbor's land line? The pile of burned phones didn't look big enough for every single person in the town to have had one. (See me rationalize my inability to see a plot hole.) *laugh*

  5. I thought like Sara, that the town was so small that the people could make complaints in person. Or maybe on a CB/walkie talkie kind of thing? I mean, they had to have alternate ways of communicating when the weather got so bad there. And as far as terrified, Niles had me at the snow.

    1. It's not just about communicating within the town though, they would use HAM radios to communicate with the towns around. This would be especially important for the people who are for most intents and purposes hermits and who only come into town for supplies.