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Steve Niles has tackled the world of vampires in “30 Days of Night,” he’s played with zombies in the series “Remains” and he’s messed with monsters in the Cal McDonald books. What’s his next target going to be? How about the children.
This December sees the release of “The Very Big Monster Show,” a 56-page all-ages one-shot from Niles and artist Butch Adams through IDW Publishing. CBR News spoke with Niles at his Los Angeles home Thursday afternoon about what is a decidedly different style of horror story from the writer.
“‘The Very Big Monster Show’ is about a little kid who discovers the old, classic monsters,” said Niles. “They’re basically out of work, unemployed and have been run out of town by the new monsters – the bloody, scary, stabbing type of monsters. This kid tries to help them get back on their feet and show them that they’re capable of being scary again.
“They’ve been living in a house together, just hanging out for the past fifty years, doing nothing. So, the kid takes them out to Hollywood.”
The young boy’s name is Theo and he lives in the town of Creepyville. Every day Theo would walk by a patch of woods, never noticing a large mansion on top of the near by hill where the monsters live. One day he takes notice of their home and that’s how he finally meets the monsters of yesterday.
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“This is really light stuff for me,” admitted Niles about the all-ages story. “It’s literally a little kid trying to teach Frankenstein how to be scary. He runs them through drills like how to pop around a corner, how to break chains, things like that. They’d just forgotten it, got totally lazy and became completely insecure.”
Niles wrote the story five or six years ago, well before the success of “30 Days of Night,” and originally envisioned “The Very Big Monster Show” as an animated Halloween special for television.
“All there is for Halloween is [‘The Simpson’s’] ‘Treehouse of Horror,’ of course, and ‘The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown’ and that’s it. There’s not a lot of Halloween specials out there.”
Artists he discovered on his message boards have illustrated much of the product Niles has written in the last couple of years. For “The Very Big Monster Show,” Niles met artist Butch Adams on the Internet, but in a slightly different venue than his previous collaborators.
“I met Butch on eBay,” admitted Niles. “I met him because he used to sell his art on eBay. I bought a couple of pieces and we started e-mailing each other back and forth. I asked if he was interested in doing any comic work and one thing led to another. So, it’s sort of like all my message board guys, but I met him on eBay!”
Adams is a commercial artist by trade and “The Very Big Monster Show” represents his first, professional comics work.
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“When I met Butch I realized his art was just perfect for [‘The Very Big Monster Show’]. I handed him the script and decided to do it as a graphic novel.”
The story of old monsters being pushed out by the new brings comparisons to the comics industry, where many believe comics, “the old,” have been pushed aside by video games, “the new,”, but Niles says the story wasn’t meant as an allegory when the idea first came to him.
“I think overall it’s a shame that kids who liked comics don’t like them anymore since they have video games, where all the dialogue and action is done for them. It would be nice if they could also read the comics and expand their imagination a little more.
“It’s the same thing with the monsters. Freddy, Jason and all those guys are great. They’re scary, really scary, but they’re not the only thing. There are still werewolves, vampires and Frankenstein out there who can still be scary.”
While “The Very Big Monster Show” is headed for the graphic novel treatment, Niles would still like to see it as an animated special one day and has ideas for other animated projects as well.
“I would love to do some animated horror stuff,” said Niles. “I was thinking about it the other day. We’ve been talking about doing ‘Remains’ as a feature-film and I started thinking about how great it would be if ‘Remains’ were animated like ‘Akira,’ but as a zombie movie. A serious, adult, animated film.”
Readers in the Los Angeles area can see art by Butch Adams up close during a gallery showing at the Odditorium in Hollywood on October 1st.