Fangoria Exclusive: Steve Niles talks FINAL NIGHT and EYES OF FRANKENSTEIN
It has been a trying four months for Steve Niles’ comic creations CRIMINAL MACABRE and 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. Not only have the two series been fighting to the death in the appropriately titled crossover, FINAL NIGHT (out from Dark Horse) but the “loser” has the added pressure of being put in permanent retirement. While fans have been biting their nails in anticipation, Niles has been keeping the outcome a tightly kept secret. Until now. With the release of the final issue this past Wednesday, we finally find out which of the two will live to see another run. Steve Niles recently sat down with FANGORIA in an exclusive interview about the ending of one series, the continuation of another, and all the little bits in between.
* WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD! *
FANGORIA: After a long, drawn out fight, CRIMINAL MACABRE is the winner of the battle royal with 30 DAYS OF NIGHT! What made you decided to pick CRIMINAL MACABRE as the series to continue?
Steve Niles: Well, I don’t know why anyone would think it would go any other way. He’s been with me for a long time. I think everyone thought that 30 DAYS had a movie, so how I could I possibly kill them? I really enjoyed doing all the spin-offs, but 30 DAYS was never the same when I wasn’t doing it with Ben (Templesmith.) It had run it’s course and sales weren’t doing that great, well, they picked up a little at the end, but I ran out of stories to tell unlike I did with Cal. I can write a Cal story everyday if I wanted to and I’ve been writing him since ’85. He’s a character that just keeps going, he literally has a life of his own. It was really fun to have him go up against Eben and another surprise is when he lost Stella. So, all those characters are gone.
FANG: Any chance of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT coming back?
Niles: No, Marvel comics will do a resurrection in two weeks thing, but not me. Like I said, if I ever bring it back it would have to be with Ben. 30 DAYS OF NIGHT ate up ten years of my life, good and bad. The stories just don’t come as naturally. I love the original story, the original concept, but the story doesn’t have life like Cal does. I always have fun with him, the stories just make themselves left and right.
FANG: Will you be going back to the vampire genre at all?
Niles: Yeah, I’m sure there will be a few popping up, I mean, they’re always bad guys in CRIMINAL MACBRE. All my vampires and werewolves are all similar. The vampires in CRIMINAL MACABRE aren’t exactly like the Barrows vampires but they’re mean and vicious and don’t really care about humans. The whole thing with vampire fiction is if I get an idea, I’ll use it, I don’t always have to go back to the whole 30 DAYS thing. What’s odd for me is, and I think I lot of people think this way, that as soon as I leave Alaska, it’s just a vampire story. I realized that when I did the X-FILES/30 DAYS OF NIGHT crossover with Tom Mandrake and Adam Jones, and I was back up in Alaska, and suddenly there were all these ideas and stories. There are stories there, but 30 DAYS didn’t have to be about the arctic circle.
FANG: How similar are the vampires in CRIMINAL MACABRE to the vampires in 30 DAYS OF NIGHT?
Niles: Well, I tried to make little differences. In CRIMINAL MACABRE, the modern vampires were just watered-down xeroxes of xeroxes. Once upon a time, there were these great killing machines, but as the centuries wore on and one vampire met another vampire, and about 100 generations later, they became watered down. But I try to keep them mean because I just don’t have much purpose for the romantic vampire.
The thing with vampires though, is that it’s the one monster that you can imagine yourself being. The chance of us becoming a Frankenstein monster or a werewolf is impossible, but a vampire? They look like us, they act like us, it’s just this little virus that separates us. When I read vampire fiction, especially romantic stuff, I see a lot of wishing going on. A lot of: “what if we can live forever, would we love forever?” It’s funny, they focus a lot more on the eternal life thing instead of that they have to feed on blood to live.
FANG: Tell us about your newest CRIMINAL MACBRE series, EYES OF FRANKENSTEIN, coming out in September.
Niles: So we’re jumping right in to the next Cal Story. Actually, what we’re doing is we’re continuing the same story that we’ve had for a while; building a monster war. What’s happening in Cal’s universe is he thought that the 30 DAYS OF NIGHT battle was the war. But it wasn’t, it was like the opening act. So now, there’s a lot of strange goings-on happening around the city, ghouls are freaking out, and a lot of old friends are starting to come to Cal wondering what’s going on because they can kind of sense that something is coming. As you know, any problem going on drop right into Cal’s lap and the old friend who’s visiting him is the Frankenstein monster. It’s the same Frankenstein monster from the previous comic I did. Cal actually finds him tearing apart a library and he finds out that he’s not actually rampaging, but he’s freaking out because his eyes were starting to go. The one thing he always had was reading. It was his solace, his sanctuary. So Cal agrees to help him.
The thing is Cal’s been sick. So, with Cal being sick and Frankenstein monster needing new eyes, they track down this guy who, on the surface, looks like this Chris Angel type, but he’s actually very knowledgeable about the occult. Cal doesn’t want to deal with him at all and this character Wheatley, Wheatley’s ex-wife lives with guys. So there’s all this stuff going on and Cal has to help out.
FANG: Why did you decide on a Frankenstein story?
Niles: I really liked that little short I did with Chris (Ryall) and I wanted to bring back that monster into Cal’s universe. So that was really it, I really enjoyed him. I love the dynamic with him and Mo’loch and loved the idea of his eyes going.
FANG: Big publication time gap between two story arcs. Is there any reason for that?
Niles: It’s the way Dark Horse does it. I’ve been trying to get an ongoing series forever and they won’t do it, so I have to do a series, then pitch another one, get it set up, and get it moving. It’s just setting up the project really. I could easily do Cal monthly.
FANG: There’s a book you’re also working with Ben Templesmith and Menton3 called LUST. How far along are you?
Niles: I’m basically waiting on art from Ben and Menton3 and I’m going to start writing prose for it. My deadline is really close, so we’re planning on at least having a sample real soon. We’ve been getting a lot of real good response from people. It was a very successful Kickstarter.
FANG: Is there anything else coming up?
Niles: I always have stuff coming up! I have CHIN MUSIC through Image that will be shipped around May or June. I also have this new series that will run three issues called THE BREATH OF BONES that’s a WWII/golem story.