Halloween Week continues with yet another guest blog from one of the industry's most notable creators of horror comics. This time around, it's "30 Days of Night" co-creator Steve Niles, whose series "Criminal Macabre," "Freaks of the Heartland" and "Wake the Dead" (among others) are also currently in development as feature films. His sequel to "30 Days of Night," "Dark Days" is also currently in production.
I imagine for a lot of folks out there Halloween is a fun time, but not one of the bigger times of year. In my house, Halloween is right up there with all major holidays. I’d even go as far as to say I spend more in October than I do in December.
It’s the truth. I have a problem. My name is Steve Niles and I’m a horror addict. I’m also one lucky monster-kid. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Halloween is a time for reflection for me. It’s the time of year I pull down all the horror movies I love and the horror books I’ve read over and over since I was a kid. This year, when MTV asked me to write a blog, I started thinking about all of my heroes of horror, the creators who have left a lasting, bloody impression on me, and in doing so discovered just how stupid lucky I am.
For me, everything begins and ends with Richard Matheson From "I Am Legend" to "The Shrinking Man" to some of the most unforgettable "Twilight Zone" episodes of all-time. Stephen King himself said it best when he credited Matheson with taking horror from the gothic castles to the suburban streets of America, and in doing so changed forever the way people enjoyed horror. Mr. Matheson made me not only want to read as a kid, but also made me want to write.
George A. Romero is another horror hero not only for the work he has done such as "Night of the Living Dead," "Dawn of the Dead" and "The Crazies," but because of the way he went about making film. Not content with getting on his knees in some Hollywood office, Romero took it upon himself and made his movie right in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Romero also openly credits "I Am Legend" with being the inspiration for "Night of the Living Dead." Mr. Romero taught me not to wait for others—if you have to, get out there and do it yourself.
Another hero is Clive Barker. He, like Matheson before him, redefined horror. When the "Books of Blood" short stories came out there was a tangible energy rippling across the horror scene. Nobody had ever gone this far and told such horrors with such beauty. Barker taught us all there are no boundaries.
John Carpenter hardly has to be introduced, let alone explained, but for those of you out there who are unaware of his work go out right now and rent or buy the original "Halloween" and (John Carpenter’s) "The Thing" and see how horror is done. These two movies made on very different budgets hit every beat of what makes great horror. Not only are they great films, but Carpenter took a page from Romero and did things his way. Carpenter taught me there’s more than one way to skin a cat…or make a film.
And last but hardly least; my biggest hero of horror is artist Bernie Wrightson. Bernie has had his ghastly hand in so many movies, comics and books that I love I can hardly list them all here. From "Creepshow" to "The Mist" to "Swamp Thing," Wrightson shows he is truly the master of the macabre. If you have doubts, there’s only one book you need to open—and that’s Bernie Wrightson’s "Frankenstein."
I challenge anyone to look through that book and not feel his or her heart speed up. It is as beautiful as it is complex and grotesque. It is simply the best version of this novel ever to see print. I apologize if I totally cheese out right now, but I am writing this on Bernie’s birthday (Yes, he was born in October!) and I’m not only a fan, but very lucky to count Bernie as one of my best friends. Bernie taught me dreams can come true.
And that’s what brings me back to why I’m so lucky. All of these creators influenced me as a kid and teen, and now staring down the barrel of middle age, I can say with a humble heart that I have worked with every single one of these unbelievable creators. They are all great creators and tremendously giving human beings.
So if you’re a monster kid sitting out there, feeling alone with your horror movies, monster mags, video games and comics, remember that I was one of you. I was a kid, growing up in Virginia, not a lot of friends, and obsessed with all of the men mentioned above. You can be here, too. The key is never, ever giving up.
Now, I have some pumpkins to carve and movies to watch.
- Steve Niles
Steve Niles is one of the comic book industry's most notable current writers of horror comics. He continues to author new "Criminal Macabre" stories in both comic book and prose form, while many of his other projects have been optioned as feature films or are currently in development at various studios. You can find more information about Niles and his upcoming projects at his official website steveniles.com as well as bloodypulpbooks.com, where fans can purchase his original prose novels "Cal McDonald Detective Tales" series.