In “30 Days of Night,” the sleeper hit title of 2002, the small town of Barrow, Alaska is plunged into darkness for 30 days every year and life goes on without too much excitement, except one year everything goes to hell. A group of vampires show up and what can only be classified as a massacre takes place, destroying this sleepy little town.
The series was an instant hit and resulted in numerous spin off comic series, novels and a feature film to come in the fall of this year directed by David Slade and starring Josh Hartnett.
“30 Days of Night” creator Steve Niles and IDW Publishing return to Northern Alaska in a new mini-series to coincide with the release of the feature film tentatively called “30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow.” Joining Niles on this series is legendary comic artist Bill Sienkiewicz. CBR News sat down with Nile & Sienkiewicz to get the first word on what readers can expect from this title.
CBR: Steve, first off, how did you and Bill get hooked up together for “30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow?”
Niles: I’ve known Bill since I first started in comics. As a matter of fact, he did the cover for “Fly in my Eye,” the second book and first major book I ever published. We’ve been friends ever since. We ran into each other recently at the New York Comic-Con. Bill and I started talking and he said he was looking to do some new kinds of stuff and I mentioned to him that I had a “30 Days” pitch that wasn’t, how should I put this, milking the idea. I really think I came up with a new, cool, original “30 Days.” A new take on things. Bill got really excited about it and here we are.
CBR: Bill, do you remember doing that “Fly in my Eye” cover all these many years ago?
Sienkiewicz: Absolutely! I’ve known Steve since he was 19. Back then he’d call me up and we’d have these long conversations back when he lived in Washington D.C. It’s weird how life has turned out with us working together again.
CBR: So, the two of you working on this project together was really as simple as you two running into each other at a convention.
Niles: It really was that easy. Right time, right place.
CBR: Bill, what was it that attracted you to a project like “30 Days of Night?”
Sienkiewicz: I thought the ideas Steve came up with are just great. I grew up on “Creepy” and “Eerie” and “Vampirella” and stuff like that. I just love horror stuff, but in my career there hasn’t been much horror done lately that I felt was done well. The projects I’d be offered would have horror elements in it, but it was usually more super hero stuff. Or it would be gore for gores sake and you wouldn’t ever get to know the characters. This story is something different.
To find stuff being done now in comics that really has a sense of horror to it, well, Steve’s the guy who I felt was really doing it.
Niles: Plus, this isn’t part of some established continuity, which allows you a lot more freedom. It’s a finite story and plus – and you said this was one of the things that excited you about the project – it’s a chance for Bill to illustrate a horror story. Talk about a person who can do some frightening imagery. He’s very capable of that.
CBR: Through the history of the “30 Days” projects, primarily you’ve worked with either unknown or relatively unknown artists, so this is an interesting change of events where you’re collaborating with a well known name in Bill Sienkiewicz on a “30 Days” series.
Niles: Yeah, it’s nice. We’ve switched the way we’re approaching the book for a little bit. And this very well may be one of the last “30 Days” comics series I write.
I am definitely a huge Bill Sienkiewicz fan. He’s had a huge affect on my whole career. Bill, Alan Moore and Frank Miller single handedly drew me back into comics in the ’80s. I probably wouldn’t be reading comics if not for these guys. I remember when Bill was doing the art on “New Mutants” and I heard other kids in the comic shop saying, “Ewwww, the art’s too weird” and I went right over to it and thought, “Well, maybe now I’ll check out a super hero book!” And as soon as I saw his art I fell in love. From day one I’ve been a giant fan of Bill’s work, so, wow, I can’t tell you how excited I am. And, just to tease a little bit, this has led to Bill and I wanting to do another project, completely creator-owned, that we’ll hopefully be announcing some time soon.
CBR: Steve, what can you tell us about the actual story in “Beyond Barrow?”
Niles: What I like about this story is that while it does take place in Northern Alaska near Barrow, it’s a whole new story with new characters, a new angle and a completely fresh take, which is why I can’t really give away too many details without completely blowing it, but basically it builds upon the whole idea that these attacks have been happening around the Arctic Circle for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The Barrow “30 Days of Night” attack, the massacre, was a mistake, basically. A big, stupid mistake on the part of the vampires. Leading up to that, in a place where people disappear anyway, it’s sort of establishing that maybe there was something more sinister other than just the Arctic conditions contributing to these people going missing for all these centuries.
CBR: What’s interesting is you said earlier that this might be your last “30 Days” story, yet what you’ve got planned for this book sounds like you’re dramatically enlarging the history and mythology of the “30 Days” universe.
Niles: Yeah, you’re right. So, once again, I’ll probably be eating my words. I remember saying after the first three issues of “30 Days of Night” that “I will not milk this series!” [laughs] And now, here we are, six comic series and two novels later … [laughs] So, put that under famous last words. Who knows where some of these ideas could wind up. Some could wind up on the screen, they could wind up in the third “30 Days of Night” novel.
CBR: And, of course, depending on the success of the film to come out later, it might inspire you once again. And you’ve always said to me that as long as you don’t feel like you’re milking the concept, you’ll do it.
Niles: That’s just it. What’s really inspired me through “Dark Days,” “Return to Barrow” and now “Beyond Barrow” – I feel like those are the core series – every single time it was the idea or concept that drove me. So, yeah, I’m well aware I could be putting my foot in my mouth saying this could be my last “30 Days” story, but that’s sort of where my mental state is. A lot of times – and I realize every writer out there is probably going to attack me for this – when you know you’ve got to write something for a really long time, you don’t always throw you’re A game into it. For me, I feel like this is going to be my last attempt at doing a really scary Barrow story and I want to throw everything in with all the good ideas and not worry about what I might do in the future.
CBR: Bill, what will your approach be artistically with “30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow?”
Sienkiewicz: I’ve always felt the mind will fill in the more horrifying images than you can just simply show the audience. The way horror has been handled for the most part is there’s always a lot of darkness, but just for darkness’s sake. What I’d like to see is a little bit more contrast and beauty and set-up in terms of the landscape being a character. Let the environment play a role. So, when things go horribly wrong, you’re suddenly plunged into a horrific world, made ever so much more so when compared to the beauty you were just looking at. Or, have something very dark happen out in the sunshine. True horror can happen unexpectedly and it doesn’t necessarily have to happen in a dark room that’s been dirtied up a bit.
CBR: In “30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow” with the environment you’ll be working in – Northern Alaska, the arctic circle, mountainous region and all that snow – there’s an inherent beauty in that environment and to introduce horror into it allows for that contrast you spoke about.
Sienkiewicz: Look at John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” The first shot has a brilliant blue sky with a helicopter shooting at the wolfhound. It’s not your typical setting for something like that. It doesn’t necessarily have to have all the trappings of your typical horror film. The challenge I’m setting up for myself is the palette of doing something beautiful and seeing if it’ll work when we go to the darker aspects of life. I don’t want to telegraph anything and want to set up a level of normalcy, so that when things happen, it really catches you by surprise.
CBR: Bill, looking at your art you’re certainly capable of graphic and horrific imagery, yet really haven’t done a lot of horror in your career – why is that? Have you shied away from it or have you just not been that impressed with the projects presented to you?
Sienkiewicz: Well, a lot of it is because of the obviousness I found in much of the horror I was presented. I want it to be more subtle and let the reader’s mind fill in those aspects of what is horror. Your audience can imagine things ten times worse than you can draw them. Now, I won’t be shying away from the gore, but I might stylize it more. I definitely plan on being more graphic, but at the same time I don’t plan on doing gore just for gores sake. Chopping someone’s head off just for the image and no other reason is sort of cheap. It’s always what isn’t shown that’s more horrifying to me. Things that are implied. The mystery of horror. Think about the most horrific moments in horror films and much of the best horror happens off screen. That’s the kind of horror I’m really attracted to and I think what Steve and I plan on doing is going to up the ante a bit. For me it’s going to present a challenge because I firmly want their to be a certain beauty in what I’m doing, have it happen in a beautiful environment, whether it be a snow storm or the isolation of a couple of figures off in the distance in the snow, and at the same time when the rubber hits the road I want people to really be chilled by this imagery.
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