CCI, DAY 1: "30 Days Of Night" Ongoing Debuts October, Niles & Fraction Weave Horror

The world of "30 Days of Night" isn't exactly a happy one. Vampires have wrecked absolute havoc on the tiny town of Barrow, Alaska and the events have been felt the world over. With the conclusion of "30 Days of Night: Return To Barrow" not much has been heard from this world, but that's all about to change.

The first "30 Days of Night" series took the comic world by storm, proving to be an overnight success. It helped cement series writer/creator Steve Niles as a contemporary master of horror. Spin-offs from that original series, books like "Dark Days" and "Return To Barrow," have proven that interest is still very high in that world. Announced at Comic-Con International in San Diego today, fans thirst for more will be quenched this October when the new ongoing series "30 Days Of Night: Bloodsucker Tales" hits the stands from IDW Publishing.

Each issue of "Bloodsucker Tales" contains two stories, one 12 page story written by Steve Niles with art by newcomer Kody Chamberlin, and the second 12 page story written by Matt Fraction ("Last of the Independents") with art by Ben Templesmith. CBR News caught up with both Niles and Fraction to learn more about their plans for the series.

First up is Niles with a story called "Dead Billy Dead," to be told over six issues.

"'Dead Billy Dead' is me taking the vampire experience from the victims point of view," Niles told CBR News earlier this week. "With this story I've created a totally new character that will possibly link up with another one. I'm really trying to flesh out these characters and this world and I'm going to need a lot of 30 Days of Night material coming up."

What Niles is referring to with that last remark is the growing cast of characters which inhabit the world "30 Days of Night" and will assuredly make an appearance in the upcoming "30 Days of Night" novels he'll be writing for Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, announced earlier this week.

"I'm just creating new characters and side line stories to sort of fill in some of the blanks," continued Niles. "There are a lot of characters that we only know when they've all converged on each other. So, I'm backing up and asking questions like what was Agent Norris doing all that time between the Annual and 'Return To Barrow.'"

Speaking about the novels, Niles revealed that he may retell some of the stories already told in the comics as he can't assume that those who are picking up the paperbacks have necessarily read the comics. He expects that the first novel will touch a bit on events previously told in the comics just to make sure everyone's on the same page.

Gettting back to "Bloodsucker Tales," Niles said the series will allow him to further explore characters introduced in previous series, but only minimally touched on.

"I've been really wanting to write more about some of the characters like John Ikos from 'Return to Barrow,' the cranky old trapper. I like him a lot. I might do more with him."

Art for "Dead Billy Dead" is provided by newcomer Kody Chamberlin, friend and Steve Niles Forum regular, like so many artists before.

The decision to do an ongoing series based in this world came to Niles after writing the one shot "30 Days of Night Annual" and the recent mini-series "Return To Barrow." The creative juices were flowing and Niles realized he had many more stories to tell.

"The only thing I don't want to do is milk the concept of 30 Days of Night," said Niles. "I don't want to kill it. I don't want to tell vampires attacking every town in the Arctic circle stories, like 'Now they're attacking Finland!' (laughs) Now I feel like the characters themselves are more interesting than the concept and not every story needs to take place in Alaska."

For the second story, Niles invited writer Matt Fraction to provide a story which Ben Templesmith will illustrate.

"He's doing his own deal and it's great. It's his story. He does his thing and I'm not going to butt in! His story is going to last for like fourty issues! He's really got his feet dug in! Nah, seriously it's much shorter than that and hopefully we'll get the chance to do something more together."

Writer Dan Wickline will follow Fraction once his story is completed.

Matt Fraction, known best as the writer of "Last of the Independents" as well as the upcoming column "The Basement Tapes" here at CBR, joins "Bloodsucker Tales" with a story titled "Juarez," which introduces an entirely new character.

"Vampires attack Finland! Just kidding. 'Juarez' is a hardboiled supercreep, rooted-- like all things good and spooky-- in a true story," Fraction told CBR News earlier this week. "There are literally hundreds of girls dead and vanished from Juarez, Mexico. Anywhere from 200 to 400 hundred. This isn't a fictional conceit; this is really happening. And it was so horrifying to me, personally, so terrifying an idea that a community could suffer this kind of catastrophe on a daily basis that... I stole it.

"So, 'Juarez' is subtitled 'Lex Nova And The Case Of The 400 Dead Mexican Girls.' And it's about the world's worst private detective thinking he's got the crime all figured out...

"...but he doesn't, because he's completely insane. Lex is a scout, like Renfield in 'Dracula' or Norris in the '30 Days' world-- half human and half vampire. He's nuts, though. I mean, he narrates the story. Out loud. As he goes along. So he's a detective with absolutely no guile at all, no ability to hide what he's thinking. In his head, he's a pulp superstar, completely oblivious to the fact he gives his game away as a matter of course.

"He's absolutely certain that the pack of vampires that half-turned him are responsible for the killings in Juarez. What's really behind it all is much worse.

"Also, there are clowns.

"And it should be an eight-part serial, unless the priest keeps talking or Bingo comes across a schoolbus or something."

Niles was a big fan of "Last of the Independents" and that got the two writers talking ("[Steve] is, seriously, the nicest guy in the world. And yet he writes all this dark and fucked up shit," said Fraction.). That friendship led to this collaboration of sorts.

"Steve had this whole modern vampire mythology laid out from the '30 Days' cycle and I think he was wanting to explore it outside of Stella and Barrow and all that," said Fraction. "He and I were talking on the phone one night, and we both love the EC books and the short form and then, you know, the nicest guy in the world and the guy that jump-started the heart of horror comics was asking me to split a book with him. Hell yeah.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm a guest in Steve's sandbox-- so I make sure I know how the toys work before I play with 'em, and we figure out new things they can do and he lets me know the stuff they can't. And these toys'll do an awful lot. It's been great and effortless. Really, if what I'm doing with 'Juarez' is making Steve happy, then I'm doing my job. And Jeff [Marriotte] and [editor] Kris [Oprisko] at IDW, too-- everybody's made me feel welcome."

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