30 Days of Night, story by Steve Niles and illustrated by Ben Templesmith, published December 2004 by IDW Publishing. This graphic novel is a straight up horror story. You have a secluded town with more than 400 residents living in sub-zero weather where the sun doesn’t rise for 30 days. Welcome to Barrow, Alaska which turns out to be an ideal place for nocturnal predators that find the daylight intrusive and sees the town as a untapped food source.
The story opens with the last day of sunset. The sheriff and his wife are getting calls from all over town about some local thefts and a stranger in a bar causing mischief. It isn’t too long after the sun has set that the husband and wife team start to spot signs of trouble: a bonfire of cell phones are found in a pit and communications are down all over town. The stranger from the bar that they end up putting in jail proves to be something other than “human” and this leads to the beginning of the end for the town.
A meet is set up amongst the vampires who have congregated to Barrow, Alaska. The leader of the group has been summoned and things don’t turn out as planned. That was the biggest surprise of this entire novel. The town however ends up on the wrong side of a battle and the town folk are massacred. Well, not all of them. There are some survivors which includes the sheriff and his wife, hiding from the predators. Meanwhile, the story shifts to New Orleans where a shaman or voodoo priestess has someone intercept correspondence that exposes a suspicious meeting between two unidentified parties in Alaska. She seems to know what this meet entails so she sends her son with a camera to get footage of the planned event.
My thoughts: Last I’d checked, vampires were supposed to be scary. This graphic novel had a predictable storyline save one plot twist toward the end which didn’t make all that much sense to me and defies the story’s own logic. The artwork is pretty raw utilizing colors that emphasize the blood and facial structures and the freezing cold temperatures of the tundra. While the dialogue is clear, a few of the frames were a bit unclear. Furthermore, the story was a little bit of nothing for such a high price at $17.99 (paperback):
- Not much in the way of complexity of plot
- Lack of original plot line (but then how many different ways can you tell a vampire story)
- Not much in the way of characterization
- Raw artwork that looked pretty simplistic
- Lack of logic continuity
- Short, short, short story that left me feeling underwhelmed for my money
The part of the story that made me raise my eyebrows was when the sheriff, Eben, decides to save them all by turning into one of them. Now let’s go back, one of the survivors had been scratched by one of the vampires and was transformed. Immediately he started attacking the humans. Not so with Eben who managed to draw a sample of blood from the vampire and inject himself with it. Instead of attacking his wife or any of the other survivors, Eben is in control of his thoughts and blood lust and manages to kill the leader of the vampire clan and save the day- at a cost. This was not explained. Why was Eben’s response so different?
Then there’s the romance which was ok in a hokey kind of way. I guess that part of the story arc was supposed to engage the heart and it barely did that for lack of character development. I came away from this story not a fan and completely underwhelmed. What I did like was the atmosphere and the setting. I don’t get to visit Alaska often in my fiction reading (at one time I wanted to move there, too). All the talk of this graphic novel being “great” has led me to believe that if you think that something is great just because other people say it is then it is. It’s not. I was duped by the hype. There seems to be a motion picture in the works and more sequels on the shelf. All in all, it was an interesting visit to Barrow, Alaska but I think the one visit will have to be enough. My grade, C.
[tags]Vampires, Horror, Alaska, Steve Niles, Graphic Novel Review[/tags]