30 Days of Night

Years ago I saw this graphic novel at the comic book shop. I flipped through it a few times, but never did read it. The title, 30 Days of Night, and the image on the cover kept drawing me to it, but I just couldn’t find enough gumption to actually purchase it.
Now it’s been made in to a major motion picture and this slightly piqued my interest, yet still not enough to purchase the book.

A few days ago a coworker stopped by my desk and handed me his newly purchased copy. He warned me that it only took him 15 minutes to read, but it had a great concept.

After reading this book I can understand why it was made in to a movie, but I simply can’t see what all the adulation heaped upon Steve Niles is for.
The concept is definitely an interesting and somewhat unique one. Alaska has 30 days in which the sun does not rise, so what better place for vampires to gather and feast upon the blood of the living?
The execution of this is concept however is horrible.
30 Days of Night lends itself well to a movie format. But therein lies the problem. It feels as though it was made simply to become a movie. In fact, I felt as though I was looking at the movie’s storyboard with word balloons thrown in for fun.
The dialogue is contrived at best, the characters have no soul, and the art, while edgy, simply servers to further obscure the identities of the characters, making them that much easier to translate to the big screen, and that much harder to relate to.

Being disconnected from the characters is never a good thing in a comic book. Psychotic vampires who storm around town and kill everyone in sight isn’t frightening, it’s just gory without a point.

The plot, like the characters, feels empty and there are many unanswered holes in it.
For instance, why did the main vampire, Vincent, seem to support the group meeting in Alaska if he thought it was a terrible idea, only to show up later and shut the whole thing down? Why did the guy from New Orleans risk his life to send vampire photos back to his mother? And who was his mother anyway?
This was all just a vague attempt at setting up sequels, of which there are plenty.

Then there were outright mistakes made. Why on Earth did the main character, Ebb, claim that the only way he had seen a vampire killed was by another vampire, when seconds prior to that statement he and the others in his group killed a vampire? Steve Niles must take the reader for a complete dolt.
Whole chunks of the story felt like they were missing. But why fill in the blanks when the movie writers can do that for you?

30 Days of Night is a lazily written graphic novel. It’s a piss poor excuse for a comic book and gives independent writers a bad name. It was however, a successful attempt at getting an idea in to main stream hollywood and making a lot of money for Mr. Niles. And if the movie is a success, it will also help to generate interest in comic books in general, so I guess it’s not all bad… just mostly bad.

15 responses to “30 Days of Night”

  1. I just got around to reading your blog here. I might be incorrect but:
    From what I understand, the story WAS originally a concept that Niles shopped to Hollywood and nobody would touch. So he turned into a graphic novel (or as you more accurately labeled it: the storyboard) and after alot of bark, here it comes, Hollywood bit… [groan]. So you were correct! But your tone was very condescending. And that’s okay too! It’s YOUR blog!

  2. Cool, thanks for the information, it makes complete sense.

    You’re right, my tone was condescending. I hate seeing a graphic novel such as this celebrated… it simply doesn’t deserve the praise it’s received. Thus far I’m less and less impressed with each Steve Niles story I read.

  3. Alot of what you said was true, but I feel that the obscurity of the characters helped to convey the emotions of the situation. How depressing 30 days of night really is, the feel of how lonely it must be, not only that but homocidal vampiric beings as well.

  4. I totally respect your view, and to a degree am able to agree with it. However, i don’t think it is a fair assessment without having a sufficient background knowledge first. And by this i mean sometimes having to read the sequels as well as the original for understanding. for example, star wars episode 4 is a good movie, but one feels far more connected to the characters after seeing the the stories before and after it. this is similar to a degree. The Mother you talk of is further explained in the second chapter, dark days. The reason for Vincent to have a change of mind is also explained there as well. Now i am not saying that relying no the second chapter to answer questions is the most idea way to handle a solid storyline, but in the word of comics it is found in all the great stories. It is the reason we have so many great story arch, thats the way the business is, something one has to deal with and not tear apart the writer for that. And Lastly, the art. I’m sorry but this one i think you are very wrong with… NOT to say you are not entitled to fee the way you do, but i don’t quite think you grab the meanings behind it. Take the Graphic Novel art for what it is, take out the words, would you be able to create a basic bio of the characters and an idea of how they are involved? I know i could personally, and that is really al that is needed. Remember they’re in pitch black, nothing is clearly seen so there is continual fear of not knowing what is going to be staring back at you in the dark. I was not happy with the outcome of the movie, even though BriScrye is correct in that it was originally written as a script and turned down. But the graphic novel, to me, is very much deserving of the awards and acknowledgments it received, but one has to have enough interest in the topic to read the entire story. It just isn’t for everyone, but its a good story…. just my point of view though

  5. Saying that a comic felt like a story board with words is saying that they did their job. A comic is like a movie drawn out. The art was fantastic. Who can relate to people that live in a small town in northern alaska? I will take a shot in the dark and say only the people that live in that town. Kind of a unique idea? How many other modern vampire-feeding on towns in darkness ideas have you come across? I find through reading your words that I would most likely hate talking about review with you. Your glass is half empty and your taste leaves much to be desired.

  6. 30 days of night is an amazing graphic novel, your protencious are disgusting!! the art work is amazing and the dis-contection from the characters only adds to the desired affect of feeling isolated, your thoughts are a piss-poor excuse for a review!!

  7. I agree that it doesn’t merit the extraordinary praise it’s been granted, but I think it’s a good if flawed comic.

    I particularly like the way it is _not_, unlike many vampire stories, a story of a plucky, inventive, man who finds a way to survive and triumph; it’s more like the story of a few people who luckily manage not to be swallowed-up by a natural disaster. The portrait of the vampires—implacable, not open to reason, fundamentally a-human, and NOT AT ALL SPARKLY—makes this possible.

    I liked the way there was very little attention paid to the actual attack and the attempts to hide, which (boringly) occupy much of the film version.

    And I liked the art and lettering—this is very much a matter of taste: I actually usually hate this sort of art, but I think it possible that I’ve been seeing a bunch of people imitating Templesmith and succumbing to Fail.

    But, again, hardly the Horror Comics Messiah some would have it be….

  8. wow, strong review. the story may not be the best, but no one can deny that the art totally makes this comic, its super dark and really brings the reader into the atmosphere. True the movie was nothing to spend money on at the cinema, but when you read the rest of the series and sequels its very harsh to say thats its a piss poor story. Its a completely unique story with regards to the location and horror, its far removed from marvel “every superhero wins the day” crap.

  9. I personally love the series, mostly because it’s a more realistic vampire plot. Unlike most vampire stories now a days, where the vampires are beautiful creatures full of glitter.. (ack) I do see where you are coming from, it does seem like it was made just for the gore of it, but it’s the only graphic novel that I was able to really get into other than Anita Blake of course.

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