30 Days of Night—Graphic Novel
Steve Niles (author) and Ben Templesmith (artist)
I’ve never read a graphic novel before. So, I didn’t know what to expect. Having read it, I am still not sure what to think. I certainly don’t like reading it in this layout. I had a hard time with the flow of conversations and sometimes at least in this particular graphic novel, I wasn’t even sure who was saying what. But I got the gist of it.
The story itself started out pretty great. I mean why hasn’t anyone thought of using Alaska as a site for a vampire frenzy? It was a brilliant idea. I wish this had been an actual novel because the build up with cell phones disappearing and computer connections slowly being cut off as the day of darkness nears would have been a perfect build up. But we got it so quickly in this form.
And who is the mother/son duo that are obviously aware of and have been trying to fight against the vampires? I wanted to know more. I wanted the mother to be some bad-ass ancient vampire killer. I thought when her son hit “send” before he was killed, she would show up. But that story line came and went without giving us any information on who they were or what exactly they were doing. In a novel I think she could have been a major player. But in the small space of this graphic novel, she was nothing.
Of course, there was the whole “group of survivors hiding” trope and the interior danger of one of them having been bit/scratched (?) turning into a vampire but Eben saved the day by chopping off his head. This he knew would work because while out scavenging for food to feed the group, he witnessed Vincente rip Marlow’s head off for being so stupid. More on Eben in a minute, but he somehow happened to have a hypodermic and had the skill to draw blood from the vampire he killed.
Let’s talk about Marlow and Vincente for a moment. I for one, loved this interchange. The vampires in this novel were so believable and ruthless. I loved that Marlow came up with this plan and had all these details worked out. Admittedly, it was brilliant and I was impressed. Then Vincente tears into him for being arrogant and foolish. For putting the entire species at risk over a month-long blood orgy. His speech on how it took centuries to get the humans to think of vampires as a myth, for them not to believe vampires exist anymore. “Suspicion and fear are the seed to our extinction…” What a great line. And it’s true. I felt dumb for thinking Marlow’s idea was so brilliant then too. I hung my head, slouched my foolish shoulders, and read on wondering how the small group of survivors would ever get away from this most evil and ancient creature—a creature who presumably has survived so many attacks by both humans and other vampires alike.
Which brings us back to Eben and his lucky phlebotomy skills/equipment. Believing the only way to save everyone is by injecting himself with the tainted blood. Somehow, Eben is immune to the hive-mind that the other poor bastard succumbed to. Somehow, he managed to keep his own mind and remain calm. Some superhuman powers I guess. These same superhuman powers enabled him to quickly adjust to his new physical state and kill Vincente. Even though he was completely outnumbered, this display causes all the other vampires to run away and the dark days come to an end…. just as the dark month is almost over. I wonder what they’d have done if Eben hadn’t changed. I mean the vampires were running out of time to destroy all the survivors anyways. Why, if they had lasted for 29-30 days already, wouldn’t they just wait out one more day rather than Eben deciding to go rogue and inject himself with vampire blood (and he may or may not have been able to control himself thus possibly endangering the lives of those he was trying to save). This whole ending blew it for me. It was a deus ex machina where suddenly Eben is able to do what no other vampire has ever been able to and saves the town. Then, before he loses control, the sun comes up and he dies. It’s all so neatly wrapped up. An easy solution to this complicated problem.
I hate to beat a dead horse but I really think that if this graphic novel had been written as a novel, Steve Niles might have been able to develop these characters in such a way as either the ending did not feel like such a cop-out or even better. He may have come up with a more believable ending. I would have used the black female character (who I learned was called Miss Judith) so much more. She would have been the hero in my story. Certainly, in the few pages we read of her, she had a powerful mystique, an almost paranormal knowledge of what was going on. I wanted her to have a bigger part.
Bottom line: I loved the story idea, I loved the characters involved in the story. I wanted more depth, I wanted a more believable ending. I wanted a novel. But for my first graphic novel, it was adequate enough not to leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. I might have to take a look at Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series.