30 Days of Night: Far Away From Sparkles

This week’s reading is the first volume of 30 Days of Night. I first read this graphic novel when the (pretty bad) movie was coming out. It was always on the “to read” list but I’d never gotten around to it until then. Rereading it now, I was again more engaged by the visuals than the actual story. That probably happens a lot in comics, while the super successful ones have  the perfect balance of great story/arresting visuals. The story wasn’t enough to peak my interest to read the other volumes, though I think the world they’ve built is interesting. But really, we’re here to talk about the vampires, so let’s get to it.

First of all, thank you Mr. Steve Niles for not making these vampires flouncy, or sexy. For a raw story like this, in such a brutal setting as Alaska, having pretty boy vamps just wouldn’t work. Not that I mind pretty boy vamps. A girl can always use a sexy-but-scary vamp in her life. But for this kind of story, where the vamps are basically going on a feeding frenzy since they don’t have to worry about the sun for 30 days, the monsters should look like monsters. And they do, especially thanks to the art by Ben Templesmith. The vampires look appropriately human and not-human at the same time. Teeth are jagged and pointy. The older ones echo the classic Nosferatu look. And that’s fine by me.  One thing I am especially fond of was their screechy noise. It makes the vampires that much less human, and more animalistic, which works since they’re about to gorge themselves like a pack of lions on fenced-in antelope. Now, I did see the movie when it came out, and they pretty much made the vamps sound like the Nazgul from Lord of the Rings. So my friend and I ran around the movie theater parking lot screeching at the top of our lungs. It was one a.m. And I was 29. Didn’t matter. Screechy vampires are cool. And my dear friend who will remain nameless, does the hands-down best Nazgul impression I’ve ever heard 🙂

Though this is also scary:

Anyway, getting back to the book, we also have another classic human becoming the monster plot, though this time Eban, the town’s sheriff, chooses to do this of his own accord, rather than unconsciously evolving into a monster like our good old friend Neville from I Am Legend. Eban willfully injects himself with vamp blood because the only thing he’s seen do damage to the vamps were other vamps. A sound theory, if a little radical, but they are desperate humans, and Eban their protector. The one thing that I don’t buy is that newly vamped Eban could actually (spoilers!!!!) kill a super old and powerful vamp. Maybe it’s my years of being wound up in vamp rules from White Wolf and the rest, but I just don’t see how even a desperate baby vampire could actually kill an old vamp, even with a lucky shot. The believability went out the window. Well, what believability you have reading about vampires in Alaska.

No vamps biting on me!

No vamps biting on me!

So all in all, this is good. Vampires behaving like vampires, capitalizing on what in theory sounds like a great idea, feasting on a small town way up yonder when the sun goes down for a whole month. I’d be scared to death to live in a town like that, dark for a whole month. If the vamps don’t get you, seasonal affective disorder probably would. Hey I wonder if any of those people suffered from that, and had those special lights. Would those lights have worked on the vamps? Did Eban turn into a vamp for no reason? Dun dun DUUUUNNNN!!

Sorry. Been a long day.

If you haven’t read this, you should, just for the last few pages. Really poignant, and really my favorite part of the story. It’s why I love comics, and the emotions they can pull out with a simple image and a well-placed word or two.

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8 Comments

  1. First off: that laugh. It’ll never stop being creepy.

    Second, I had the same issues regarding Eban’s fight at the end. A fledgling going hand to hand against a relatively ancient vampire and succeeding? I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I was expecting Vincente to be more skilled, forcing Eban to get creative. The guy took down a helicopter earlier in the story, but he can’t take down a baby vamp?

    It just seemed a bit too simple.

    • Agreed. Eban’s sacrifice wasn’t even quite necessary, IMHO. It was hasty and designed for the emotional tug. I find it kind of interesting that the film adaptation chose to make the couple divorced, to play off the reunite-in-stress-only-to-be-torn-apart thing, making it even MORE tragic. Not a big fan of story turns that only serve as a tearjerker.

  2. My copy has a preview at the end for the sequel, and it mentions lamps used by people in Alaska and other places that don’t get enough sunlight, and says the lamps would hurt the vampires. I don’t know exactly how lamps like that work, though. If they need electricity to run, Marlow cut power to the town, right?

  3. Sam, in the movie, they tried that and the vamps just took out the generators, so ya, electricity would be the issue. Also agree with the whole fledgling vampire taking on Vicente. Hell, Vicente killed Marlow in like half a page and Marlow was already a pretty high ranking vampire. It’s probably the single largest problem I had with the story.

  4. Oh lordy, that laugh is going to haunt my dreams….

    Anyway, like everyone’s said, I didn’t buy that a fledgling could take out an old, powerful vamp. Maybe the reader is supposed to believe Eben had an edge because of his police training.

  5. I got the impression Marlow got taken down easily because he wasn’t expecting to be attacked, whereas Eben was scrapping from the get go. But either way, it did seem odd that in all those centuries of hiding Vincente didn’t learn every kind of kung fu there is.

  6. Thank you for including the video of Michael Sheen as Aro. He plays some of my favorite on screen monsters. And, yes, his vampire laugh is quite unsettling. Not as unsettling as the vamps in 30 Days, but the creepy factor is pretty high.

  7. White Wolf RPGs. Yessss! You understand! The vampires of 30 days look all Nosferatu or Gangrel to me. Also it’s interesting you mentioned the full spectrum lights. I just bought one 🙂 back vampires! Imagine my disappointment if they glitter instead of burn under my pricy light bulbs 😦


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