You got a little blood on your chin, dude
30 Days of Night: 30 Days 'Til Death #1
by David Lapham
I can't read a single novel anymore. Everything I read, as far as text-only books (not comics), is part of a larger series of books. I just finished the 11-book Sword of Truth Series. I recently read the last Harry Potter book. I mentioned in a previous column that I read the Dark Tower stuff from Stephen King, which had 7 primary novels, and a ton of other tangential books. Now, I'm getting into the "Enderverse", as I had previously only read Ender's Game. So far, I'm finding that Speaker of the Dead is a very beautifully worded novel with some interesting concepts.
But back to the point, I think if I tried to read a stand-alone novel, it would seem unfulfilling to me, even if it was like 1000 pages. The Sword of Truth books came in at an average of something like 700 pages per book. Altogether, that comes out to 7700 pages. So I think that if I were to read a book, closed the final cover, and there was nothing else for me tolook forward to, I would ultimately be disappointed.
Through self-reflection, which is a daily hobby of mine, I've determined that I blame comics and TV. I've gotten so used to having my entertainment serialized, that any other structure is now inadequate for me. I think the strength in the serial format is that characters and plots are able to develop in your mind. Take a comic like the Authority. The team has 6 people on it (give or take, depending on what's going on), and each issue is only 22 pages. That's not really much material with which to properly explore that many characters.
But then, after you read that comic, you have a whole month to digest the material. You'll see things like how certain events in your life might mimic events in the book, or something that someone says to you will cause you to look differently at the characters in the story. By the time you read the next issue, you have a more personal connection to it and it holds more value for you.
The same can be said about TV. When you watch a show like 24, with all of its high-falutin' concepts and espionage and betrayal, you might not get everything that's going on in that one-hour episode. But then if you give your mind a week to process it, the awesome factor is increased.
When Fellowship of the Ring came to theatres, I watched it on release day. A whole damn year passed before Two Towers was released, which I also watched on release day. To keep the trend going, I watched Return of the King on release day. With a year between each installment, it accentuated the idea of it being a long journey for those two probably-closeted hobbits. Yes, watching all three extended versions of the film in one sitting also takes a long time, but the journey was made more tangible and eventually rewarding, at least for me, because of the time span between the movies.
Or I'm just making all of that up. I mean, really, if I picked up a book that had an interesting story which was well-told, I'd probably like it just the same. But I do like extended, drawn-out tales that really explore and develop the world of a story.
When I read the first 30 Days of Night series, that was short and sweet. Not bad for 3-issue project from a company and artist that no one had ever heard of. Now, IDW Publishing has the rights to Transformers, GI Joe, Star Trek, Doctor Who, and slew of other properties. Ben Templesmith, the aforementioned artist, has since won some Eisner award glory.
As great as that first story was, I definitely was left with the feeling of wanting more. Luckily, IDW is smart enough to realize that there's a ton of potential to make some money on the property, and has expanded the universe with some follow-up series. I was lucky enough to work on Dark Days and Return to Barrow for a little bit when I was interning with them, both of which are as grim and disturbing as the original. Other follow-up series have been Bloodsucker Tales, Spreading the Disease, Red Snow, and, most recently, 30 Days 'Til Death. There were some others, but then that would have made that last sentence very, very long and sound like a run-on sentence that should have been cut off much sooner than it was much like this current sentence.
'Til Death introduces new characters and a new setting, which makes it a perfect jumping-on point for new readers. It briefly references some events from the previous series', but you don't need to have read those to get in on what's happening now. And what's happening now seems pretty whacked out. The book is being written and drawn by David Lapham. He's had success in indy books with his Stray Bullets and Murder Me Dead series. That led to some high-profile stuff, including writing Batman for DC, and I think the Punisher and Daredevil at one point for Marvel. He can get really twisted, which lends itself naturally to a vampire story. Seriously, check out what he did for the cover!
Also, when a guy is drawing the story that he's writing, you can't really go wrong. I'm going to say that Lapham's art isn't as strong as his storytelling, but you know that he's getting down exactly what the writer wants. I have to give him mad crazy props, too, because in addition to writing and drawing this, he's currently writing and drawing Young Liars for Vertigo.
One little nitpicky thing that I can criticize about the book, and you guys should appreciate this: there's a panel where a vampire is sitting on a bed playing some sort of video game console. On the floor is what mostly resembles a 360, and in his hands is what can reasonably be deduced to be a 360 controller. But, shown on the TV is obviously Link from Zelda, a Nintendo-exclusive character! I almost threw the book down in disgust for this console/game inconsistency, but the panel was redeemed because of the stripper posters on the wall of the room.
Who should read this book:
People who want a good vampire story, not that "Twilight" crap.
People who are allergic to knives in the back.
People who live in crab shells.