Steve Niles is bringing his horror home.
While the writer behind "30 Days of Night" has been moonlighting of late with superhero projects at DC Comics, Steve Niles' longtime base for his signature horror tales from monster mayhem to slasher stories has been IDW Publishing. The focus at IDW's panel at Comic-Con International fell on that relationship as Niles discussed two projects that deliver on his rep as the most prolific horror writer in the medium while tossing a curveball to the usual scare tactics.
Details came out on "Epilogue," a new superhero series by Niles and artist Kyle Hotz ("The Hood") which debuts in September telling the tale of Ethan, an avenging vigilante who just happens to be a vampire. The panel also shared news that Niles would be acting as editor to a new horror anthology series called "Dark Delicacies" that will adapt short stories from the acclaimed prose anthology of the same name.
CBR News caught up with Niles on both projects to find out why he hadn't dropped a vampire superhero series before now and what kinds of artistic talents he was searching for on the floor in San Diego.
CBR: IDW announced a new series written by you called "Epilogue" which is a superhero vampire comic. You've played on both sides of that equation separately, but why was this the time and the project to merge your two interests?
Steve Niles: I just think the time had come. It was really funny. I'd done horror versions of Batman, and I'm trying to do superhero versions of horror characters like Simon Dark. I've been straddling this character for a while, and when I sat down to think about what motivates superheroes and what I like about them, I thought, "Here's a guy who's not only going to lose his family like Batman or Spider-Man, but he loses his family to the exact thing that gives him his powers." That is just the greatest motivation I could think of.
I just love it that this guy would transform into a vampire, which would keep him alive, but vampires murdered his wife and kids and transformed him into what he is. He is absolutely enemies with vampires and is going against their ways in that he's decided to us his "powers" ï¿½" and I hesitate to even use that word ï¿½" for good. To reconcile the fact that he has to feed on blood, the way he works it out is that he will only feed on criminals. We hit this running, and he's using this. He'll hunt and feed on and kill anybody who hurts other people. If you don't you've got nothing to worry about.
Aside from that general superhero mission, are you going to uncover some more specifics of Ethan's origin by having him go after the vampires that turned him as well?
Well, they're coming after him because he's going to attract attention. You know, the ground rule of all vampires is "Don't attract attention." I use that across the board with "30 Days," with "Criminal Macabre," with anything. Most monsters ï¿½" especially vampires with such a weakness as the sun ï¿½" their power lies in the fact that nobody believes in them. And the fact that this guy is killing people, draining them and ripping their heads off ï¿½" that's what he's leaving behind. That brings the cops in it.
It's a thing that I use that has almost been lost in a lot of comics. I remember when I read Spider-Man and Batman in the '70s that the cops were always chasing after them and shooting them. I wanted to get that tension in there again. So here we've got this guy who's actually slaughtering criminals, and what does that bring out in frustrated police? Is there a side of them that likes it? It shows you that there are things you couldn't do with Batman or Spider-Man that you can do with this character.
Is Ethan getting based in his own fictional city as some of the classic superheroes have been, or are you setting this firmly in the real world?
I'm not going to say, you know? [Laughs] I'm building a city, and right now we're not naming it. And that's very deliberate because I realize a lot of times an actual city doesn't matter, but we'll say it's an imaginary city right now.
One of the things that IDW has stressed in their release on the series is that it's created "with" Kyle Hotz.
Absolutely. The biggest thing was the costume, which will be revealed. We worked together on that, and other than that it's been this idea I've been running towards for a while. It's odd in that I feel I've been building to it for a while. Like I said, I see myself doing Simon Dark and Batman, and there's this obvious thing right in the middle. But I wanted to do it as an independent book just because I wanted to see how hard it can be pushed.
You're also heading up a new comics anthology of adaptations of short stories from the "Dark Delacacies" horror prose collections. How did you bring this along to IDW?
I had been invited to write stories for the first two "Dark Delicacies" anthologies. And at the same time I'm looking at what people are doing in horror comics, and every time anyone does an anthology there, it's a nod to EC. So I talked to [editor of the "Dark Delicacies" prose series] Del Howison, and I'm saying, "Look, you're editing this book where you've got Stephen King, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, David Schow ï¿½" you've got all the hard core horror writers. Why don't you do a version of what you're doing in the books in comics? I'll help you out. I know what I'm doing with artists and getting it to IDW."
So I guess I'm really "producing" the comics. Really what I'm trying to do here is help Del, and just get a solid horror anthology out there that's on the level of the books.
And you'll be writing a few of the prose adaptations yourself?
I'll be adapting, hopefully, Clive Barker's and at least one per issue.
Who did you reach out to in comics to help adapt these stories? Is it in part a crew of Steve Niles artistic collaborators?
That's what we want to find out in San Diego. San Diego is my time to start scouting for people and talking to people. My hope is to really appeal to the real die hard horror fans ï¿½" the artists who don't get to do horror the way they want to do it. That's my job. I've got to get on that.
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