Hello! Welcome to the space on the internet where Carl Randers, Jack Stevens, and I get together and discuss a comic that we recently read. I like to call it ‘Comic Relief‘! Last time, we were delighted to discuss Skyward, Vol. 1: My Low-G Life, written by Joe Henderson, with art by Lee Garbett, and this time we’re doing spooky double by discussing both 30 Days of Night, Vol 1 and 30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow, both written by Steve Niles with art by Ben Templesmith.
Some might know 30 days of Night better from the 2007 movie adaptation (I did, despite not having seen in at the time of our discussion), but – as I would soon learn – that movie was based on the original comic! 30 Days of Night is a story about a sleepy, secluded Alaska town called Barrow, where the sun sets and doesn’t rise for over thirty consecutive days and nights. From the darkness, across the frozen wasteland, an evil will come that will bring the residents of Barrow to their knees. The only hope for the town is the Sheriff and Deputy, husband and wife who are torn between their own survival and saving the town they love.
A sequel story, 30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow, that was partly made possible by the success of the motion picture, revisits Barrow, Alaska, the town where it all began, as the long night creeps once more over the tundra. Some things may have changed, but the horror remains.
That’s as much of the story as I feel like giving away pre-discussion, so dim the light, settle in with a cozy blanket, and let’s dig into the spooky double feature…
Randers: I really liked 30 Days of Night. To me, it felt like someone saw a documentary on Barrow and was like, “that’d be the perfect place for vampires…” and then wrote that story.
Nick: Totally. I loved the concept.
Randers: I also like that it’s a complete, contained story for the most part… but with seeds planted in case there was enough interest for a sequel. Like a pilot episode of a concept show or something.
Nick: Yes. It was very satisfying to read. I didn’t really like the art style and text at first. But I got used to it pretty quickly. That was really my only complaint.
Jack: I really enjoyed it. It felt like it had so much individual character vs most of what we’ve read thus far. I get that the art style could be very divisive, but I really liked it and felt that it fit the theme well. If they did that style fit like spiderman, I’d hate it
Randers: I really liked the art. It felt… unfinished. “Savage.” Like the vampires. Neither of you has seen the movie, right?
Nick: Nope. Never seen the movie, but I fully intend to this month because of this. I think I just didn’t like the art style at first because it made it hard to read on my phone.
Jack: I didn’t know there was a movie. I can see what you mean…I found it difficult at times on my tablet.
Randers: The movie is good. Makes some changes. The vampires have their own language that can’t be understood. It’s interesting to remove their dialogue.
Nick: Wait, the comic came first?
Randers: Yeah, How’d you like the sequel? I thought it felt like when a movie gets turned into a tv show… it’s fine but I was happy with it as a stand-alone. Now there’s an ongoing series.
Nick: Oh woah. I fully thought we read a comic book adaptation of the film.
Randers: It did all the things a sequel needed to do… expand the world. Dig into the lore. Introduce some backstory stuff… which was fine… I just wasn’t THAT interested in the world. Just like I never got super into the Underworld movies after the first. Does that change how you look at the book now?
Nick: The book feels a little less complete now because I thought there were parts that didn’t transfer well to comics so they left them out. But I don’t think any less or more of it.
Jack: I really enjoyed the sequel as a means to revisit the town and how it had changed. I always think that’s a really cool narrative structure. Like the post-game of Pokemon Gold and Silver for example.
Nick: I also liked the sequel a lot. I thought it was interesting to revisit the town and see how the vampires have “evolved” after the events of the first one.
Randers: Yeah. That’s why I thought it felt like a “pilot” episode or something. The story in Barrow is fine and complete, but the extra New Orleans stuff was just thrown out there as threads to weave in later if there was a later.
Nick: That’s exactly what I was thinking of.
Randers: I think where the sequel lost me is as soon as it hinted at a deeper vampire culture. And factions. I don’t care about that.
Nick: Fair. I thought that was interesting, but it had kinda been done to death in pop culture so I get it.
Jack: Sequel was definitely a step down in comparison. Characters and stories didn’t feel as fleshed out or as resolved.
Randers: But again… there’s an ongoing now so people are loving it enough to warrant the continuation. Good for them.
Nick: Yeah, I thought it was neat, but not enough to keep reading. I’ll definitely check out the movie though.
Randers: It definitely turned into a hit property for him with numerous novels as well. People love vampires.
Jack: What would y’all rate it? Scale of 1-10?
Randers: Hmm… 6.5 maybe up to a 7.
Nick: Yeah, I was gonna say a solid 7.
Jack: I was going to say 7! We hit the jackpot!
A quick follow-up, I ended up watching the 30 Days of Night movie for my annual #31MoviesIn31Days and I had a couple thoughts that we can end on. Over all, I liked it. Made a little more sense than the comic, but only because it was more streamlined. It was logical that they didn’t have the vampires talk – it made it feel like more of a monster movie – but it also put a lot of pressure on the human cast to carry the film, and I really didn’t care about any of them. I also loved the setting even more seeing how the town would be laid out in real life. Just a good, simple concept.
Anyway, that’s all folks!
As a reminder, we try to pick comics that are easily accessible (both to get ahold of and to understand) so anything we read is available through ComiXology (which is owned by Amazon, just FYI), both Marvel and DC have their own digital comic sources, or you can support your local comic shop by picking up a hardcopy (I highly recommend Destiny City Comics in Tacoma, WA, who ship anywhere) so feel free to follow along and chime in with your thoughts, feelings, concerns, or considerations in the comments!
Next time on Comic Relief, in a Spook-tacular double feature, we will be reading: Criminal Volume 1: Coward, written by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips.
Continue the conversation on social media:
Carl Randers: @FantasticDork
Jack Stevens: @Jackstandsup