Niles, Steve

Niles, Steve

(pop culture)

Steve Niles burst upon the comic book world in 2002 with his successful comic book series 30 Days of Night. Written by Niles, with the collaboration of artist Ben Templesmith, the story opined about happenings when a small town in remote Alaska where there was a month without sunlight was cutoff and attacked by vampires. Niles’s story of the horrific zombie-like vampires was perfectly complemented by Templesmith’s rendering of a night world where the only whiteness was the vampires’ mouths of sharp teeth.

Niles was born in Jackson, New Jersey, on June 21, 1965. He grew up in suburban Washington, D.C., in an environment informed by comic books and punk rock. For a short period he was in a punk rock band. He also credits Washington’s television horror host Count Gore De Vol, as influencing his interest in vampire lore.

In the late-1980s, while still in Washington, Niles formed Arcane Comix, an independent graphic arts publishing concern, through which he published several works he edited. At the beginning of the 1990s he moved to California and began to write for different comics publishing houses most notably Fantaco/Tundra and Eclipse Comics. Then at the beginning of the twentieth century, he began working with IDW, a new comic book publisher based in San Diego. Niles had done a four-issue adaptation of Richard Matheson‘s I Am Legend for Eclipse. His first work for IDW became the collection of the four issues to produce a black-and-white graphic novel (1991). 30 Days of Night then became the IDW’s first comic book series—a series of a mere three issues.

The series became an immediate success and heralded the birth of a new force in horror writing (while at the same time serving as a notable start to Templesmith, who was working his first job as a comic artist). The pair moved on to work together in two further series Criminal Macabre (for Dark Horse) and Dark Days. Criminal Macabre centered on the drug-addicted detective Cal McDonald who operates in a world inhabited by ghouls and vampires. He eventually becomes a vampire himself. Niles had introduced the character in some stories that appeared in his Arcane Comix anthologies and later in the Dark Horse anthology Dark Horse Presents. In 2002, Niles had issued two Cal McDonald novels, Savage Membrane and Guns, Drugs and Monsters. The novels set the stage for further comics, the 2003 Dark Horse series with Templesmith, a 2004 sequel, Last Train to Deadsville (Image), and a 2005 series Supernatural Freak Machine: A Cal McDonald Mystery (IDW).

Meanwhile, the success of 30 Days of Night led to its first sequel, Dark Days. By this time, Niles had become a star within the horror writing community, and he has gone on to write a series of successful comics while the writing of numerous 30 Days of Night miniseries sequels have been turned over to new writers and artists. Niles would do two Annuals (2004, 2005); 30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow (2004); 30 Days of Night: Dead Space (2006); and 30 Days of Night: Eben and Stella (2007). Meanwhile, other writers tried their hand with 30 Days of Night: Spreading the Disease (2006) and 30 Days of Night: Dust to Dust (2008). Additional vampire titles among the many works Niles has written include Aleister Arcane (2004), The Cryptics (2006), and City of Others, a zombie story with vampires (2007).

In 2007, 30 Days of Night finally made it to the screen as a successful horror movie. By 2009, it had emerged as the twelfth highest grossing vampire movie in history. A sequel and a Criminal Macabre movie remain a possibility. That same year, I Am Legend was made into a movie starring Will Smith. Niles counts Richard Matheson as the single greatest influence on his writing career and jumped at the chance to participate in the promotional comic I Am Legend: Awakening, produced by DC Vertigo and distributed at the San Diego Comicon. The movie also led to a third printing of his IDW graphic novel of I Am Legend.

Sources:

Bostaph, Melissa. “Interview with Steve Niles.” Dread Central.com. Posted at http://www.dreadcentral.com/interviews/niles-steve-30-days-night. Accessed on April 10, 2010.
Niles, Steve. Guns, Drugs, and Monsters. San Diego, CA: IDW Publishing, 2002. 197 pp.
———. Dial M for Murder: a Collection of Cal McDonald Mystery Stories. San Diego: IDW Publishing, 2003. 192 pp.
———. Guns, Drugs, and Monsters. Book 2: Cal McDonald, Monster Hunter. New York: iBooks, Inc., 2005. 224 pp.
———. Savage Membrane. New York: iBooks, 2005. 199 pp.
———. Criminal Macabre: The Complete Cal McDonald Stories. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Comics, 2007. 419 pp.
———, and Jeff Mariotte. 30 Days of Night: Rumors of the Undead. New York: Pocket Star Books, 2006. 401 pp.
———. Immortal Remains: 30 Days of Night. New York: Pocket Star Books, 2007. 384 pp.

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