It really does make me very worried when a story I’ve cherished (often for many years) is turned into a movie. On the whole, they are unmitigated disasters (I draw the jury's attention to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), with the - often complex - story lines dumbed down to make it ‘lowest common denominator’ fodder. This really pisses me off on two counts;
1) Something I’ve loved for years has now been ruined, and will be tainted by this balls-up forever. The producer, cast and crew will move on, and probably never cared about the original in the first place anyway, but the original fans of the comic are left to face the music and the smug looking smirks handed out by the rest of the office.
2) It gives critics yet another excuse to ridicule comics (like they need another one!). It really annoys me when comic books are dismissed as ‘superhero nonsense’ and ‘kids stuff’. It is also a really lazy description, at least 25 years out of date.
Comics have been doing a lot of growing up since the 1980’s, and the general target audience for most titles are now adults. Yeah, there are still plenty of superhero titles on the shelves, but even these have become darker and more complex, often stripping away the insecurities to show the vulnerable person behind the mask.
There are some truly inspiring comics out there these days, and just like you can buy a novel on pretty much any subject, the same can be said for the comic (the ‘graphic’ novel).
So which title has been selected for the latest round of Hollywood Comic Book Transformation (otherwise known as Russian roulette)? 30 Days of Night.
On the whole, I am not that crazy about the horror comic book genre, but I love this title. I love the fact that back in 1999, a newly formed independent comic company (IDW) took a gamble and picked this untried story as their first ever release. I love the fact that the faith they showed resulted in a money making cult following, that has spawned a number of sequel comics. I love the fact that on the back of this title (and the money it brought in), IDW have become a real force in the comic book market. Oh, and I love the fact that 30 Days of Night is probably the scariest fuckin comic I’ve ever read!!
Written by Steve Niles and drawn by Ben Templesmith, 30 Days of Night is set in Barrow, Alaska, where at 12:50pm on November 18, the sun dips below the horizon and is not seen again until 11:51am on January 24 (true). The simple (but none the less genius) idea is that a bunch of vampires decide this would be one handy place to chow down for a month, without that pesky sunlight getting in their way. It falls to Sheriff Eben Olemaun and his wife Stella to try and save the town.
The story is short, but great, with some accurate historical vampire ‘facts’ woven in, but it’s the artwork that gets me. There is a real edginess to the drawings, they are harsh and not nice to look at, leaving you feeling a little disturbed at the end - a bit like when you used to watch a horror film when you were 11 or 12. You’d brave it out and (try to) laugh at it, but afterwards it all felt a bit creepy, and the dark walk to the bedroom was a killer! For a comic book to be able to convey that uncomfortable feeling is a real accomplishment.
So what will the film be like? I imagine it’ll be an over the top bloodbath horror, that loses the subtleties of the original storyline, but makes up for it with, mmm I don't know, more blood perhaps?! Josh Hartnett and Melissa George are playing the heroes, but the handling of this film will determine whose side I’m on this time around!!
30 Days of Night gets its UK release on 1st November 2007 (19th October in the US).
UPDATE: The trailer for 30 Days of Night has just been released, and y'know what, it looks ok!! Not a drop of blood in it either! Check it our right here at Start The Revolution Without Me: