Sunday, November 04, 2007

12 Questions With Steve Niles

I missed out on the original flurry of activity and attention that followed the release of the insanely popular 30 Days of Night by creators Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith. I think I, personally, caught the buzz as the third issue was coming out and by that time the previous two issues were so scarce that I figured I’d wait until the trade came out to read this story that everyone was talking so much about. Little was I to know that, initially, the trade would prove to be just about as hot as those original three issues and I’d have to wait, yet again, to snag myself a copy.

Shortly after the books release I decided to contact Niles and see if he would be interested in an interview. I was working at the time for Silver Bullet Comicbooks as the Features Editor and thought it would be nice to have the book and one of the creators represented on the site. Steve agreed and questions were quickly worked up and sent over to Niles HQ.

Ultimately, the interview was never completed, and what you see below has never seen the light of day until now. The whole experience came as something of a surprise to me. It was the first time I pulled the plug on a piece and chose not to run it. I mean, I had 800 words or so, and as you can see by the interview below, it’s not like I couldn’t have published it as is, but a combination of Steve being super busy and unavailable for follow-ups and this interview here sort of made the decision for me.

I had run across Daniel Robert Epstein’s Newsarama piece while I was researching Niles online and thought it was the best interview with the guy I had read up to that point. It was very thorough, covered material pre-30 Days and beyond (something most of the stuff I ran across couldn’t or wouldn’t do), and was just a really entertaining read from beginning to end. I took one look at it and decided the definitive Steve Niles interview for early 2003 has been done. There was nothing more I can add there.

Flash forward 4 years and the movie for 30 Days of Night has hit theatres, is doing very well for itself, and something which I, personally, have gone to see twice. I remembered after coming home the first time out that I still had this old unfinished Niles piece sitting on my computer and thought it might be fun to put it out there.

So, without further ado, I present…

12 Questions With Steve Niles

This interview was originally conducted in February, 2003.

MIKE JOZIC: Where did the idea for 30 Days of Night come from? When someone told me what the series was about, I just thought to myself, why hasn't anyone done this before?

STEVE NILES: Well, evidently a lot of people have! Ever since 30 Days came out I get approached by writers telling me they had the same idea, but never got around to writing it.

JOZIC: What, or who, would you cite as your influences while putting together the story for 30 Days? Is there a little John Carpenter in there?

NILES: There’s a little Carpenter and some George Romero and Richard Matheson too.

JOZIC: Obviously the book has done well for you guys, but do you feel the three act structure of 30 Days was a successful one, or even noticed by the public at large?

NILES: Well, it worked in that it got the story across, but I think it could have been longer. That’s one complaint I hear about 30 Days: there should have been more!

JOZIC: There are a lot of extra pages in the trade collection of 30 days. What was the process by which they were excised from the original comic book?

NILES: It really wasn’t a case of including what was cut from the original series. Everything for the trade was created for the trade to give the reader a little extra bang for their buck.

JOZIC: There seems to be a trend, and a solid one at that, of smaller publishers going for a more DVD Special Features approach to their trades. Was this a consideration when putting together the collection for 30 Days?

NILES: I think we - IDW and I - just wanted to make the trade special because of all the good fortune we’ve had with 30 Days. It’s not that hard to go the extra step and include extra pages, or a script or unseen art. That’s why I love working with IDW. They get a kick out of making a package the best it can possibly be.

JOZIC: Raimi, Tapert and Campbell have all said that they were going to reunite to work on something smaller and independent, which has everyone immediately thinking Evil Dead 4, but I wondered if maybe 30 Days was the project in question?

NILES: As far as I’ve heard, it isn’t, but I wouldn’t complain!

JOZIC: In a funny way, even though you're no longer adapting other people stuff, you've begun adapting your own. Is that a surreal experience for you in any way, or just part of the ongoing career trajectory?

NILES: As apposed to adapting Barker or other writers I feel a bit more free to cut something or run with an idea!

JOZIC: What sorts of changes have you made to the story in translating it to screenplay format?

NILES: I wouldn’t classify any of it as changing. More like expanding on ideas I didn’t have the chance to do in the original three books. There are characters and scenarios I only had the chance to hint at, that I’m now having the opportunity to fully realize.

JOZIC: With the film deal done and the project underway, do you see more of your projects being optioned, like Cal McDonald?

NILES: Man, that would be great.

JOZIC: Speaking of Cal McDonald, you have a brand-new mini coming out from Dark Horse called, Criminal Macabre: A Cal McDonald Mystery. Now, originally, his first appearance in comics was with DHC, but then there was a one-shot from IDW reprinting those stories, and now you're back again. Why the return to DHC and what can we expect from the mini-series?

NILES: Actually Cal first appeared in a story called “Big Head” that we have posted on the website for free if people want to take a look. The DHP story came a few years later.

There are two Cal novels Savage Membrane and Guns, Drugs and Monsters from IDW. Mike Richardson approached me about doing a Cal comic after reading the first novel and I thought it would be great so I came up with Criminal Macabre.

Ben Templesmith will be doing the art, Scott Allie is editing. It’s coming along great.

JOZIC: There seems to be a lot of new titles coming out of DHC reflecting a renewed interest in horror comics. Do you have any plans to continue developing projects with them?


JOZIC: In general, there seems to be more of an acceptance to the horror genre now (and I'm not talking Scream-style horror) than there was 10 years ago. Hell, even five years ago. Do you have any ideas on why that is?

NILES: That’s the way it is with horror. It comes and goes in cycles. There are some who believe that this is connected to the world and what’s going on. That fear creates a need to confront fear. I think some of that is true, but I prefer to believe people need a release and they need variation from the same old thing.

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