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Comix-to-Flix #2

02.25.2005

COMIX-TO-FLIX is a new JoBlo.com column that will feature reviews of comic book graphic novels that have been optioned to be made into motion pictures. Seeing as the universe of comic books and movies is becoming more and more connected, we figured that we may as well jump right into them as well, especially since we love both mediums to begin with. We hope that you enjoy this new addition to the site and be sure to email us with your thoughts.

30 DAYS OF NIGHT
by Steve Niles

BUY THIS NOVEL AT AMAZON.COM NOW!!!

PLOT:

Barrow, Alaska. A small and desolate town where, thanks to natural phenomena, the sun does not rise from November 18th until December 17th. Like the title says -- thirty days of night. Charged with protection of Barrow is Eskimo sheriff EBEN OLEMAUN, along with his loving wife and deputy STELLA.

The story opens with Eben and his Stella investigating a rash of crimes that have broken out the day before Barrow’s seemingly perpetual darkness is about to begin.  Every cell phone in the area has been stolen and burned.  The town’s sole communication center’s been destroyed, it’s technician brutally murdered.  And a crazed, seemingly inhuman freak shows up at the local diner, gleefully cackling about an impending attack.

And then it just happens. His words come true, as a clan of nineteen vampires descends upon Barrow with savage and sadistic joy.  With no sunlight to fear for an entire month, these seemingly invulnerable monsters, led by their ringleader MARLOW, tear through the town’s inhabitants, and it’s up to Eben and Stella to round up the survivors and try to survive the unending night.

“The northernmost community in North America, it lies 10 miles south of Point Barrow, from which it takes its name.  It is a town used to two things: temperatures averaging below zero and darkness.” – opening lines from the graphic novel “30 Days of Night”

FILM STATUS

:

Steve Niles and Stuart Beattie (Collateral) are currently finishing adapting 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. Credited producers are Sam Raimi (Evil Dead II, Spider-Man) and Robert Tapert (The Grudge, Boogeyman), under their shared Ghost House Pictures banner.  Sony is also a partner in the film, which will likely cost between fifty and seventy million. [Credit Sci-Fi Wire]

CRITIQUE:

Well, if you’re anything like me, and like your horror movies simple, intelligent, and gory as Hell, I think you’ll find that this book rules all!  At 80 pages, it would be a quick read even if Niles didn’t let Ben Templesmith’s art speak for itself a lot of the time. And it’s funny, because the same two words that JoBlo used to describe SIN CITY could just as well be used to describe 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. Those two words being brutal and relentless. Just looking at the cover of the book should give an inkling of the brutality that can be found within it’s pages. We’re talking all sorts of red vampire goodness. Bites, decapitations, the works. And I call this book relentless because the pace just never let’s up. It draws you in slowly for…maybe the first five, six pages, and then BAM! From that point on, you’re on one Hell of a roller coaster and you are not gettin’ off!

“You are so FUCKED!” -- Vampire Delegate

At this point, I’d like to reiterate just how much like a horror movie this book is. In fact, not only is Steve Niles currently adapting both it and it’s sequel DARK DAYS as screenplays (it’s being exec-produced by Sam Raimi and distributed by Columbia Pictures), but the entire concept was originally developed by Niles as a horror movie pitch. This is one of the reasons, I think, that the book reads as cinematically as it does. Like we sit back and watch the action unfurl on the movie screen, so to do we sit back and marvel at how Ben Templesmith vividly brings every wince-inducing atrocity on the page to life. His style here is a very abstract one, every image rendered with something akin to soft focus.  It gives a very unearthly feel to everything in the book, piling on the desolation and darkness that smothers Barrow.

The setting of Barrow lends much to the creepy, desolate vibe you get while reading 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. As I read, I kept thinking about how much it reminded me of John Carpenter’s The Thing.  It makes for a really unique dynamic, because the humans can’t escape thanks to the town’s remoteness and the inclement weather, but neither can the vampires actually find all of the humans because the cold wreaks havoc with their senses.

Thankfully, what words Niles does punctuate the art with feel very natural, never phony nor forced like can be the case with some comics (or crappy movies). 

This leads me to another thing I love about this book. As fast and intense a read as it is, it’s still a story with characters that you actually believe and care about. Within the first five pages, you’re invested in both EBEN and STELLA. Not only do they both come across as very real, plausible characters, but so does their loving relationship with one another. You really fall for these two as they’re embracing one another on the icy Alaskan tundra while watching the sun set one final time.

“Can I go now?” --Eben
“You ever want to have sex again?” -- Stella

WHAT ELSE?

There’s some other stuff to look out for in this book besides Eben and Stella--namely all those vampires they’re running from! Seriously, one of the best parts of the book is just sitting back and checking out Ben Templesmith’s incredibly messed up vampire freaks. These are some scary, bad-ass mofo’s! Besides his unique interpretation of the whole “fang” thing, he also adds a colorful, believable amount of variation to the vampire clan. Yes, we get some vampires who look like monstrous Lost Boys rejects, but there’s a pretty good mix of other character types too. And Niles includes some particularly novel ideas about the vampire’s organizations, as well as their, um…undead powers. Shotgun blast to the face, anyone?

“What the Hell happened to you?” -- Marlow
“Eskimo trouble.” -- Wounded Vampire

I should mention that there is a separate subplot running through the book, involving a New Orleans native and his mother trying to get a hold of evidence of the vampire’s existence. When the vampire’s encrypted emails are decoded, it’s off to Alaska for the son to obtain actual footage of the attack. This storyline comes much more into play in the book’s sequel, Dark Days, though it does play a somewhat pivotal role near the end of the book.

“Nothing like this has ever happened in my lifetime or a hundred before.  Looks like we might just catch them with their pants down.” – Momma

IN CONCLUSION:

I know it’s a constant complaint of comic book fans when movies deviate from their source material, but the fact of the matter is, this is one hell of a difficult story to screw up. It’s a remarkably simple, efficient, well-told horror story.  It’s got likeable, believable characters (honestly, one of the main things I’ll be interested to see is whether or not it makes it through the Hollywood machine with the lead character remaining an Eskimo), an original and semi-plausible plot, and the makings for some absolutely jump-out-of-your-seat scares and gore-tastic special effects. To be honest, if this doesn’t translate to at least a sleeper-hit in theatres, I’ll be pretty damn surprised.

Long story short, if you like vampires, horror movies (especially John Carpenter’s The Thing or something like Dog Soldiers), or just great comics, than 30 DAYS OF NIGHT is a book well worth checking out.

"Hunt down any and all survivors. I want them killed. Feed on them if you like, or just kill them. I don’t care." -- Vicente

GRAPHIC NOVEL RATING (8.5/10):

MOVIE POTENTIAL (8/10):

Source: JoBlo.com

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