30 Days of Night, by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith

30daysofnightcover

I really liked this graphic novel. And not just because I caught the movie made from it on Netflix recently.

It had a brilliant premise – What better place to hold a vampire blood orgy than in Barrow, Alaska, where every year from November 18th to December 17 the sun never rises about the horizon? (Actually, according to the Alaska Public Lands Information Centers https://www.alaskacenters.gov/midnight-sun.cfm the sun stays below the horizon from November 18 to January 24, but “68 Days of Night” didn’t sound as cool, apparently.)

Be that as it may, we have a perfect horror setting – a small, human community huddled together in the cold, dark isolation of the Arctic – coupled with the perfect monster, a bunch of hungry vampires with time to kill.

As others have already noted, this story had some flaws.  Like how did a newbie vampire manage to vanquish the ancient, ridiculously powerful Vincent? Was it because Eben (the newbie in question) still had human feelings? (Puh-leeze.) The hypodermic needle Eben uses to infect himself with a former local boy-turned vampire’s blood was also strange. Where did it come from? Was Eben secretly diabetic? A junkie? A needle enthusiast?

The abrupt appearance, and equally abrupt disappearance, of the apparent vampire-hunter woman and her son was confusing. I was actually fascinated by their story – Who were they? How did they know about vampires? How long had they been monitoring their communications, and to what end? But, just like mysterious sea creatures, this woman and her son swim up out of the gloom long enough to make a few pings on the sonar screen before disappearing back into the depths. Never to be seen again. Sigh.

Back to the vampires in Barrow. Needless to say, they are tearing it up. But not without some conflict first. It seems that the one who had this Barrow brainstorm, Marlowe, invited all his friends to Alaska, including this really famous old guy – Vincent – whom he hoped to impress. Vincent was most definitely not impressed. In fact, he was so unimpressed that he tore Marlowe a new one – neck hole, that is.

According to Vincent, Marlowe was jeopardizing all the vampires’ lives by letting the humans know vampires still exist. How he imagined that humans, upon seeing a bunch of people in Alaska get torn apart (or just go missing), would then make this strange leap to “It HAD to be vampires!” is beyond me. And if it was me running things, instead of that Nervous Nelly, Vincent, I would have said, Sure, let’s go nuts up here for an entire month, and then do what they did at the end – burn the place down! Keep the crashed helicopter as the cause of the fire, make sure no one left behind any monogrammed hankies as a clue, and then go find a new party.

The artwork for this story was both wonderfully creepy, and at times (I’m sorry, Templesmith fans) hard to fathom. There were times I literally could not figure out what was going on in a scene. If the mystery panel occurred in the early part of the book, I could look it up in the back which had part of the script. Otherwise, I just guessed. As much as I loved it, some of the panels were a little too abstract as far as conveying information goes. Evocative, beautiful, but sometimes frustrating.

I understand that this is only the first book of a three-book miniseries, so that may explain tie up some of the loose ends. I did like this enough to track down the other books in this series, so I can’t wait to see how how it all turns out.