Steve Niles: Born in Jersey, raised in Washington DC I began writing as a kid and started my own publishing company as a teen called Arcane Comix. Since then I've worked for everybody from Eclipse to Dark Horse to IDW where I now publish.
IAL Archive: You've had the opportunity to adapt the work of several popular authors early in your career, did any present particular challenges?
SN: They were all challenging in their own way, but I'd have to say it was my first adaptation; I AM LEGEND which presented the biggest challenge because I was so in awe of the material. I didn't want to cut a single word...so I really didn't.
IAL Archive: How did you come to do the adaptation of I AM LEGEND ? Were you familiar with the novel beforehand? If so, can you recall how you first discovered it and your initial thoughts of it.
SN: I have always credited I Am Legend and Richard Matheson with not only being my favorite book/author but also being the book that got me to read as a kid. Of course I'd read books before I AM LEGEND, but Legend made me want to read.
When I began my publishing company, the first person I wrote a letter to was Richard Matheson. I remember it was a handwritten letter. I explained how I loved his book and how I thought it had been poorly portrayed by Hollywood's TWO attempts to make a film. I hear back from Mr. Matheson immediately and he agreed to allow me to do his novel as a comic. It was one of the best moments of my life.
IAL Archive: Were you involved in the selection of Elman Brown as the artist? Were you pleased with the results?
SN: I discovered Elman when I spotted him doodling on a placemat in a Washington DC health food restaurant. I told him I wanted to do comics. Neither of us knew what the hell we were doing and I think he did a great job.
IAL Archive: The adaptation itself is extremely faithful to the novel - I've described it to people as a very heavily illustrated version of the novel. I think this speaks very highly of you and the job you did - how did you approach adapting a novel that had such a large following?
SN: Unlike other books/stories I've adapted I wanted to preserve as much of the text as possible. Like I said, I was so in awe of the material I wound up ADDING to the novel instead of condensing. I think, for I AM LEGEND, a novel known by so may, it was the way to go.
IAL Archive: For a short novel, you didn't hold back - the adaptation was 240 pages over four issues in its original release. Were there concerns about the size/cost($5.95 per issue) of the adaptation at the time?
SN: Not really. By the time I AM LEGEND came to be, Eclipse Comics took over the publishing chores. They appreciated the book and supported the way I adapted it.
IAL Archive: Were you pleased with the finished project? Is there anything you'd do differently if you had the chance?
SN: Well, a lot of years have passed. I think if I did an adaptation today I would cut down on the text and allow the visual story to come through.
IAL Archive: How did the original series sell?
SN: Pretty good. Eclipse never really told me the numbers.
IAL Archive: I know you've since met Richard Matheson. Had you met him before you did the adaptation?
SN: I never met or spoke to Mr. Matheson until the last year at a signing. He was very nice and told me he enjoyed the comic, especially the recent IDW trade hardcover.
IAL Archive: When I first heard of your 30 Days of Night project, I was very excited - having been familiar with your earlier work and it being such a novel premise (one that I think I AM LEGEND fans will find appealing). For those not already familiar, can you give a brief synopsis and describe what impact if any I AM LEGEND had on the project.
SN: I AM LEGEND's influence on my writing is undeniable, in everything I write, but it could be argued it really comes to the surface in 30 Days of Night. 30 Days is the story of a small Alaskan town where the sun goes down and stays down for months at a time. In my story vampires discover the town and decide to have a feeding frenzy.
IAL Archive: Artist Ben Templesmith has a great visual style that works perfectly for the series. It's hard to imagine anyone else doing the books - did you have him in mind when you first developed the concept?
SN: I developed the idea years before, but the story was extremely effected by Ben's moody art.
IAL Archive: Did the fan and critical reaction to the series surprise you?
SN: Yes. It was just a small side project.
IAL Archive: I'm sure the well deserved word of mouth helped it continue to reach new fans - from the trade paperback reissue and now the forthcoming hardcover limited edition. What new things can readers look forward to in that edition?
SN: The hardcover is a beautiful book. It's printed in a larger format and contains all of the scripts, all of the Wizard pages, extra trade pages, ad art and an all-new short story.
IAL Archive: The sequel, Dark Days, has just finished its six-issue run. Did you have that planned out before the original series had been published?
SN: No... I thought of it afterwards, after I grew to love some of the characters.
IAL Archive: I know an annual is also forthcoming, as is a Return to Barrow special -- can we look forward to more sequels in the future?
SN: Maybe one more, but most likely Return to Barrow will be the last.
IAL Archive: Sam Raimi acquired the rights for the film adaptation, and you have written the screenplay. Can you give us any other updates on the film at this time?
SN: All I know is Raimi is official done with Spiderman 2 and 30 Days meetings are happening.
IAL Archive: Readers may not be familiar with your Cal McDonald series - can you tell us a bit about the character and how he came to be?
SN: Cal is my hardboiled detective, monster-hunting hero. He's a down and out, low-down dirty SOB and a loveable jerk. There are three prose books SAVAGE MEMBRANE, GUNS, DRUGS and MONSTERS, DIAL M for MONSTER from IDW and comics CRIMINAL MACABRE and LOVE ME TENDERLOIN fro Dark Horse.
IAL Archive: I'm pleased that the success of your new work has allowed for the first collected version of your I AM LEGEND adaptation as a very handsome hardcover edition. Throughout the life of the site I've regularly received inquiries from readers looking for issues of the comic, so I think those people who missed it in its original incarnation will finally be able to enjoy your adaptation. For those of us (namely me) who will collect all versions, is a trade paperback version scheduled to follow as well?
SN: I believe so.
IAL Archive: Are there any other projects on your plate that we can look forward to?
SN: I'm always most excited about the next books up so look for FUSED #1 And the COMPLETE 30 DAYS OF NIGHT hardcover!
IAL Archive: Thanks very much for your time!
SN: My pleasure. Thank you!
For the latest information on Steve Niles, check out his website.