30 Days of Night (Science Fiction Book Club Edition)

By Leroy Douresseaux
December 9, 2008 - 19:17

30 Days of Night SFBC Edition cover image courtesy of
IDW Publishing and the Science Fiction Book Club joined forces to produce the hardcover trade collection, 30 Days of Night, the 2002 comic book series about a small Alaska town invaded by a pack of ravenous vampires and the husband-wife law enforcement team that takes on the monsters.  This book, exclusively available through the Science Fiction Book Club, collects the original 30 Days of Night #1-3 and its sequel, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days #1-6.

First published in 2002, 30 Days of Night was the work of writer Steve Niles and artist Ben Templesmith.  The initial storyline was such a success that it spawned several follow up series and also a film adaptation in 2007.

30 Days of Night opens on the evening of November 17, 2007 and is set in Barrow, Alaska, “the northernmost community in North America.”  Between November 18th and December 19th, the sun doesn’t rise, a fact that catches the attention of a group of vampires.  With the sun not rising for 30 days in Barrow, they can leisurely hunt and feed without the burden of sleeping or the threat of the sun’s lethal rays.  Ben Olemaun, Barrow’s sheriff, and his wife Stella, his deputy, fight to save as many of Barrow’s townsfolk as they can.  However, Ben eventually makes a shocking choice, which he sees as the only way to stop the marauding creatures.

In the six-issue comic book sequel, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days, Stella Olemaun moves to Los Angeles after the events of the first series.  She wrote a book (also entitled 30 Days of Night) that is an account of what happened in Barrow.  The book has earned her the attention of L.A.’s vampire population, as well as the notice and ire of Lilith, the wife of Vicente, the head vampire in the original series.  Stella strikes a deal with Dane, a vampire who had sought vengeance against Vicente, and the two take on the powerful Lilith.

THE LOWDOWN:  The original comic book, 30 Days of Night, is surprisingly anemic.  It certainly has its good moments and is quite entertaining.  However, while Steve Niles concept and original story is richly detailed, 30 Days of Night the series feels overly compressed, and the entire thing feels like a prologue or overview of something much, much larger and much richer.  Ben Templesmith’s art, while pretty and filled with striking images, sometimes comes across as a rehash of mid-1980s Bill Sienkiewicz, particularly Sienkiewicz work on the 1986 miniseries, Elektra: Assassin.

Dark Days fully delivers on the promise and potential of the original series.  Niles story is a brutal gem filled with gritty characters, a heroine with true grit, and a mass of monsters – the hungry, greedy, and determined kind that haunt the best of American horror.  Niles sprinkles the series with interesting story paths that promise more fun beyond Dark Days.  Templesmith’s art seems to undergo a small revolution from the first series.  Templesmith’s figure drawing (particularly heads and faces) and his use of color to establish mood and to suggest the intensity of the moment are so effective that the resulting visual presentation is as effective at scaring the crap out of you as the best horror movies.

As for the book itself:  it’s a nice hardcover, but without a dust jacket, so the cover art and back cover matter is printed directly onto the book jacket.  The paper stock is nice, shiny enamel.  The binding, however, is suspect.  After one reading, it’s obvious that each folio or section is ready to separate from the book cover the next time I open it.  Truthfully, I’ve been a member of the SFBC, off and on, for a long, long time, and I’ve always found the print/binding/paper stock quality of its books to be hit or miss.

POSSIBLE AUDIENCE:  My concerns about the book’s printing and binding aside, 30 Days of Night and Dark Days are the kind of comic books that start movements in the medium.  These stories will entertain more than just fans of horror comics.

30 Days of Night, B+; Dark Days, A-

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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