30 Days of Night

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.

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4 thoughts on “30 Days of Night

  1. Joe-la, I think you’re right about this being better in novel form. The planning and execution of the plan would have been a great read. It just felt like the we were dumped into the climax.

    And our mother-son duo? Also could have been great to explore that a little more. Great review, and I’m pretty sure your word count exceeded the word count of the book 🙂

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  2. kmmoreno1 says:

    Wow Joe-la i couldn’t agree with you more on your assessment. The book drove me crazy with the cartoons and even more, the small fonts that made me break out my readers. I don’t know if you picked up a hardcopy or the ebook. I read it on the kindle and the formatting was really off, and it made it difficult to follow along. When I read your review, I totally agree that writing a vampire story in the winter months of Alaska was brilliant. I also agree that the story itself could have turned out to be much better had it been written out as a full length novel.

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  3. Aaron Dalzell says:

    Eh, I kinda hated this one. A good setting idea, but I thought everything was pretty crappy. Nothing really did it for me here. Glad you seemed to enjoy this one a bit. I already had my rant in my blog so I won’t burden the pages here. Maybe more is fleshed out as the series goes on, but eh, no thanks, not for me. I’ve read better comics and read a couple graphic novels but those were about the same as this.

    Maybe you guys are onto something and this would be a better novel, but the characters and story I got here were crap, so I’d probably pass. Plus something about vampires in below frigid weather didn’t taste well for me. It didn’t seem like smell would be the only thing wrong, but they are ancient beings so maybe they’re used to it.

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  4. I agree that there was a surprising amount of sloppy writing in this graphic novel. You made a bunch of good points, the biggest one being, this would have made a GREAT “regular” novel.
    I wondered about ole Eben’s handy hypodermic needle, too!
    The New Orleans mother-son duo were also great. Maybe they show up in the other books in this series?
    And finally, I agree — those vampires were pansies. They could have taken Eben, AND they could have hung in there another day or two.

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