Known best for "30 Days of Night," writer Steve Niles is something of a horror expert. But when his latest project "The Disciples" from Black Mask Studios was optioned for television ahead of the first issue's release, it brought in an even more legendary horror name: Wes Craven.
Niles explained the ins and outs of "The Disciples" to CBR TV's Jonah Weiland in a candid conversation from the CBR Tiki Room above WonderCon 2015 in Anaheim, CA. The writer also discussed his best worst pet purchase ever -- a giant tortoise named Gil -- and why his latest IDW Publishing horror series, "The October Faction" with Damien Worm, isn't playing out at all how he planned.
While Niles and Craven actually worked together years earlier on a comic called "Coming of Rage," the writer told CBR that this was a "completely separate thing." And given that he's no stranger to film and TV projects, Niles still maintains a sense of cautious optimism when it comes to his comic projects moving from option to reality via the Hollywood system. "I always say, 'Let me know when it's the premiere and I'll show up.' I never like to get too excited because that was the lesson I learned early on," said Niles. "When '30 Days' sold, I sold like five or six other things and only '30 Days of Night' actually saw the light of day."
With comic-based projects in a much different place in both film and TV than they were when "30 Days of Night" was released in 2007, Niles believes "The Disciples" has at least slightly better odds of moving forward. Genre is driving everything right now. It's insane."
"It's a sci-fi story, and one of the things I was really stressing is because it's my own personal -- I'm a little bit of an astronomy buff -- so I was really pressing for like, 'If we're gonna fly from here to Jupiter, I wanna know what that's gonna be like.'" Niles said of keeping the story grounded in sci-fi. "I can give enough about space detectives who have an assignment to go rescue a girl who's been kidnapped by a cultist on the moon Ganymede, so it's a hard-boiled story, but in space."
After discussing how a certain character named "Jonah" was killed in the first issue of "The October Faction," Niles explained how his writing process on this book is different than any other he can remember. "Chris Ryall, my editor on the book, basically had to stop me because I've just turned in issue #13. I'm just so far ahead and having so much fun with it that I've had to slow down, which is unusual for me," Niles said of the series. "Usually I'm like any writer just trying to keep up with my deadline, make sure the artist has pages, and now I'm sitting around waiting for the artist to catch up which is a really unusual situation."
In addition to different circumstances behind the scenes, Niles said the story itself has developed in ways he didn't expect when he initially began working on it. "The original pitch was very simple. It was a retired monster hunter trying to keep his family together. That was it," the writer explained. "I didn't know how much story I could actually hang on that, but they're just coming and coming. I'm kind of really falling in love with the characters -- the focus was really, when it started off, I thought it was gonna be on the father. And now the kids have taken over.
"That's something that always surprises me when I'm writing," Niles continued. "Sometimes characters will die, sometimes characters will say something -- sometimes things will happen that I didn't plan at all. It's not in the outline and then the story sort of takes you there, and that's what's happening with 'October Faction.'"