30 Days of Night

Writer(s): Steve Niles
Artist(s): Ben Templesmith
Publisher: IDW Publishing
ISBN: 978-0971977556
Price: $17.99
Page count: 84
Year Released: 2002
Status: in print
Original Source: 30 Days of Night 1-3
Other Collected Edition(s): hardcover (ISBN 978-1932382846)
Genres: fantasy; horror; suspense/thriller
Recommended for Fans Of: vampire stories
Possible Objectionable Material: graphic violence; coarse language
If You Like This Book, Try:
Also in This Series: followed by 30 Days of Night: Dark Days; 30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow; 30 Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales; 30 Days of Night: Three Tales; 30 Days of Night: Spreading the Disease; 30 Days of Night: Eben & Stella; 30 Days of Night: Red Snow

Plot Summary
The tiny, frozen town of Barrow, Alaska, is so close to the top of the world that from November 18 to December 17 the sun never rises at all. Unfortunately for the people of Barrow, a gang of vampires has just figured this out. As the sun disappears for the last time in 30 days and the vampires descend on the town's 462 residents, Sheriff Eben Olemaun and his deputy/wife, Stella, hastily round up the few survivors they can find and try to stay hidden until the vampires have had their fill and move on. But with no sunrise to chase them away for the next month, supplies running low, and no help in sight, how long can Eben and the others wait?

My Own 2 Cents
With all the hype surrounding this book, I wanted to like it a lot more than I did. To be fair, I'm not much of a horror fan (despite loving TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and movies such as Near Dark and Dawn of the Dead), but 30 Days of Night is exactly the kind of horror story that tends not to interest me. By this I mean that it's full of gore and not much else.

The gore, as rendered by Ben Templesmith, is stunning in its artistry. Moreover, the sense of the survivors being completely trapped by the vampires in an isolated, freezing, and unmitigatedly dark environment is perfectly achieved by Templesmith's palette of blacks, grays, and blues. Moreover, the vampires themselves look just about as frightening as possible, and I can't imagine the film version of this story doing them justice. Overall, the only criticism I might level at the art is that although each illustration is gorgeous in its visceral splendor, taken together they don't always work as sequential art, which is to say that it's oftentimes difficult to determine what's happening from panel to panel.

As for the storytelling, the hook (thirty days of unmitigated darkness is a vampire's dream come true) is brilliant, but the rest of the book is marred by an otherwise unimaginative story filled with your average, run-of-the-mill vampire story plot points and, sadly, plot holes. Furthermore, in terms of pacing, the story is so brief (a mere 80 pages) that despite wanting to empathize with Sheriff Olemaun and his fellow survivors, it never really feels like they have been hiding from the marauding vampires for even three full days, let alone thirty. As such, the story's hook loses much of its strength.

Another disappointment for me is that the quieter, ostensibly poignant moments fail to achieve much of an emotional impact. These moments are illustrated with all the tenderness required, but the overall lack of character development (which, as with many contemporary horror stories, takes a backseat to the gore) makes these beautiful moments feel strangely hollow. In the end, I can only recommend this book and its numerous sequels to the most hardcore of horror fans.