...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.