In conjunction with the upcoming 30 Days of Night/Criminal Macabre crossover event, we chatted with Steve Niles, writer and creator of both series, on the meeting of two of his creations, his work in comics, and more.
GS: Hi Steve and welcome to Geek Syndicate. You’ve been involved with many creative efforts other than comics. (music, movies, novels, etc.) What has made you stick with comics for so long?
SN: I ask myself that a lot. I’ve always loved comics but it wasn’t until I tried all those other things I realized how much I love them as a medium. For me it’s the perfect level of collaboration You still have lots of input but really one or two people make all the decisions I like that. I work fast and move from project to project. That would be hard to do in other mediums outside maybe music. I know I’m stating the obvious, but it’s words and pictures combined. You can do anything you want. I feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface of what can be done.
GS: You’re generally credited with helping to bring horror comics back into prominence. How do you feel about this statement? What has made horror comics such an attractive genre for you?
SN: I know the success of original series triggered a lot of horror comics, but there were others doing horror at the time. It’s nice that people say that but I don’t really take credit. It was group, hive-mind moment. Horror has been around a long time in comics but it got stuck in a sort of EC Tribute rut. Most horror comics seemed to have become two things; EC-like comics following the revenge and retribution formula and horror-themed superhero books. EC stuff is classic. Some of the tribute books like Twisted Tales were amazingly great. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run is maybe the best use of a horror-themed hero character. All we did, really was go at horror like horror is done in films and novels -even Creepy and Eerie to some extent- We told complete, sometimes high-concept, stories which stood on their own. To me, that was the big shift. Now horror has it’s own section in some comic stores. I love that.
GS: You’ve done mostly creator-owned work, but also worked with some well-established characters, such as Batman. Do you feel as if creator-owned work is more fulfilling than working with an established character?
SN: Both are fulfilling as a writer but creator-owned offers creators a stake in what they create. I think creator-owned offers us more in range and different types of comics that can be done, but whenever you write something and people respond, it’s fulfilling.
GS: How does it feel to have two of your most well-known creations meet in this 30 Days of Night/Criminal Macabre crossover?
SN: It’s a really cool opportunity. I think it’s so awesome that IDW and Dark Horse are making this happen. These are two series that have been in my life for a long time and each have had lives of their own. Now I get to write them into the same universe which is actually happening pretty naturally. I’m very excited about the series. Nervous about the outcome but excited.
GS: Was there ever any intention for the worlds of 30 Days of Night and Criminal Macabre to meet, or has that been something that has happened more recently?
SN: It was kind of a happy accident. In Criminal Macabre and Cal McDonald stories since the very beginning there’s always been a threat of a War of the Monsters. Cal has never paid much attention to it before but recently things have been getting worse and worse, monster attacks are getting more brazen. A war seems to be on the horizon. Now, in the new 30 Days of Night ongoing Eben has becoming more and more evil. He now wants to wage war against humans. I saw a great chance to have a crossover and not have to force a story. With a few tweaks the two series could collide. I mentioned it to IDW and DH and they both loved the idea and now here we are.
GS: Though I imagine it can be like picking a favorite child, who do you like more, Eben or Cal?
SN: Due to recent events, mainly Eben becoming a homicidal maniac, I’d say Cal is the easy pick.
GS: What can fans expect from you in the future?
SN: Right now I’m doing a lot of different stuff. There’s Creator-owned Heroes and Transfusion and Frankenstein Alive Alive currently hitting stands. I’m working on a project with Templesmith and Menton3 called Lust. There’s a lot.
Thanks for your time, Steve!
Criminal Macabre/30 Days of Night Crossover #1 goes on sale 12th December
Reporter: Leo Johnson