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Gavin's Underground

Free Comic Book Day: Steve Niles

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2009-05-01 -

Its the beginning of May and that can only mean one thing for local geeks... Free Comic Book Day.
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  Tomorrow comic stores across the state and nation take part in what's become a traditional giveaway to better promote reading and expose new people to what's currently out in comics. From Phoenix Games in Logan to Red Wolf in Moab down to Comic's Plus in St. George, many shops will be giving away free comics and some with surprise guests. You can check out a complete Utah list here. One local shop that will be entertaining with guests, Night Flight Comics where this week where you can meet an array of guests including Steve Niles. In fact, I got a chance to chat with Steve about his work and career, as well as what he'll be doing in town and thoughts on the industry.

Steve Niles
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http://www.steveniles.com/

Gavin: Hey Steve. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Steve: Well, I'm a writer, mostly of horror. I write comics, films, novels and now video games. I've been at it most of my life and love what I do.

Gavin: What first got you interested in comics, and what were some of your favorite titles?

Steve: I've loved comics since I was a kid. I started out reading Creep and Eerie magazines and then fell in love with Batman and Marvel of the 60's and 70's. I grew up reading Spider-Man, Batman and The Hulk.
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Gavin: What were some of your first breaks into the business?

Steve: I had two big breaks. Both involved big name writers lending me a hand when I was very young. Richard Matheson was the first. He allowed me the rights to do a comic adaptation of I Am Legend when I was still unproven and his faith in me led to others like Clive Barker and John Bolton working with me as a young writer/editor and really helped me break into the business.

Gavin: How did you first start Arcane Comics? What was it like getting it started up?

Steve: I had no idea what I was doing. I think I was 20-21 at the time and just a bundle of energy. I wound up publishing a couple books and a set of Clive Barker lithographs before I realized I was more motivated by creative ventures than business and then moved into adapting and packaging books with Eclipse in the late 80's. Arcane taught me a lot, mainly that I wanted to write and not be an editor or publish.
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Gavin: Where did the idea come from for 30 Days Of Night?

Steve: I got the seed of the idea a long time ago while living through a Minnesota winter. I was actually doing research on depression and the effects of no sunlight and I stumbled on an article about Barrow, Alaska. As soon I read about a town that had no sun for a period of time I thought, "Wow, what a great place for vampires to go."

Gavin: What did you think of its initial success?

Steve: I was completely shocked. The comic didn't sell that well and I'd already pitched it as a film and comic for years, so when things went nuts I was taken by complete surprise.
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Gavin: You then put out Criminal Macabre on Dark Horse. How did the story line come about?

Steve: I had been writing Cal McDonald for years. I already had two novels (Savage Membrane and Guns, Drugs & Monsters) out through IDW plus several comics I'd done in the 90's. When CM started I used a story-line that I'd wanted to do for years that gave a possible origin to vampires and werewolves.

Gavin: Why did yo go with Dark Horse instead of IDW?

Steve: Just trying to spread out a bit. I had a lot of books going at IDW and I had a relationship with Dark Horse so I gave it a shot.
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Gavin: How did the opportunity come up to work for DC?

Steve: Oddly enough I was contacted by DC because editor if chief, Dan Didio had read and enjoyed the IDW Cal McDonald novels.

Gavin: What was it like working on Batman and creating the series you did for the character?

Steve: Batman is a character I've loved since I was a kid. Writing him is a blast. I like to explore his heroic side instead of the violent sociopath side we've seen so much. Overall I think he's a great character because he has no powers. He's human like you and me. That makes him very potent.
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Gavin: During that time, what was it like working on the Creeper series?

Steve: Again, a lot of fun to re-work an older character. DC was really great and trusted me to try some new things. I was really happy with that series.

Gavin: A little industry-wise, what are your thoughts on the state of comics today?

Steve: With readership dropping, as it is in everything from books to magazines, my hope is that diversity and innovation will become a trend. I think comics are still basically all super-heros and as long as that's the case we limit our audience. It's like a bookstore that only carries romance novels.
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Gavin: Is there anything you feel could be done to make them bigger or better?

Steve: Try new genres, explore new ways to get books into peoples hands. In the end a good comic does nothing if people don't know it exists so we have to find a way to get books out there.

Gavin: Who are some writers and artists you recommend people check out in comics today?

Steve: There are so many, too many to name. The comic industry is a hotbed of talent.
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Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of the year?

Steve: A new novel, video game and a whole mess of new comics. I hope to do more with DC and Dark Horse, and IDW. Right now I am working on a 3rd series with Bernie Wrightson for IDW called The Ghoul. We're having a lot of fun with that.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Steve: I recently formed Bloody Pulp Books as a way to release more Cal McDonald prose. People can check it out at www.bloodypulpbooks.com. The books will be extremely limited and loaded with extras.

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