MidnightsungnSLG announces a new graphic novel about a North Pole mystery– an increasingly popular subject for comics it seems –by Ben Towle. The first chapter is available as a free download.

In May 1928, the Italian airship the Italia embarked on an ambitious and dangerous expedition to the North Pole. A celebratory radio communiqué from the international crew announced their arrival at their destination, but soon all communications ceased. Excitement turned to uncertainty, and a world-wide search effort was launched to recover the crew of the Italia, whose fate was unknown.
Ben Towle, a nominee for a Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition Eisner Award in 2004, captures the tense mood during the weeks of search in his graphic novel Midnight Sun, to be released in December 2007 from SLG Publishing. Midnight Sun follows H.R., a down-on-his luck American reporter. He’s dispatched to cover the story of the lost Italia at the top of the Earth, where the Arctic summer means there is almost perpetual daylight.

“The tone of this series may take readers familiar with my last work by surprise,” said Towle, referring to his graphic novella Farewell, Georgia, which attracted the attention of the Eisner Awards judges. “But it’s a story that’s close to my heart one that I’ve been developing and editing and re-editing since before I’d even conceived of any of my prior projects. It’s historical fiction, I suppose,” Towle added, “but heavy on the fiction.”

The Italia was a real airship and its disappearance and the subsequent search for its crew grabbed headlines worldwide, but since then it has become a little-known footnote in the history of aviation. “My first pass at the story was basically a melodrama chronicling the real-life story of the Italia, but I realized that what I really wanted to do was use the events of the crash and the personal dynamics of the stranded crewmembers to examine more universal themes like the interaction between fate and conscious choice, leadership and democracy, and love and obligation,” Towle said.

As Midnight Sun’s story unfolds, a pre-Depression-era newspaper reporter discovers the facts surrounding the airship’s mysterious disappearance while the crew of the Italia contend with the perils of Mother Nature and human nature. Underscoring their struggles is Towle’s artwork, depicting both gray city scenes and stark Arctic landscapes.

Midnight Sun is a 136-page graphic novel that will retail for $14.95. It is available for pre-order from comic book stores with the Diamond code OCT073222, as well as at SLG’s website, www.slgcomic.com, where a free PDF of the first chapter is also available for download.


  1. You have to go to the SLG website to read that “…this 144 page graphic novel collects the three issues of the SLG Publishing comic book series and then adds in what would have been issues 4-6…” So SLG has stopped publishing a series I’ve already laid out $9 on and they’re going to make me buy it again if I want to read the rest of the story. Classy. Remind me not to bother taking a chance on a comic from SLG again.

  2. Paul,

    That is why we do not publish many serialized stories anymore. Midnight Sun began being published just before it became clear to us that the direct market will not support our individual issues. We had to choose between losing money on the series or getting the whole story published in graphic novel form. I’m sorry that you are understandably upset, but it was a decision that had to be me made. We had to err on the side of letting Ben complete his story in a form that would gain his excellent work a wider audience.

  3. Thanks so much for the mention, Heidi!

    ..and, Paul: as Jennifer mentions above, the “floppy” series was just the victim of some unfortunate timing. If you run into me at a convention (or contact me via my website) I’ll make sure you get a copy of the book without shelling out for the material you’ve already purchased.


  4. I bought the first three issues in digital form at eyemelt.com– I’m glad to hear both that the series is going to be finished and that it’s going to be available in a trade.

  5. Not part of the press release (and my fault for that) is that it was always part of the plan to offer the last parts of the series as downloads on eyemelt. I understand the above posters frustration with having spent money on the first three issues, but people not buying our comics is what made this a necessary thing. Viscous cirlce I suppose, but once something falls dramatically below 1,000 copies its pretty easy to assume that at minimum there is no market for this kind of thing in comic book format or in comic book stores.

  6. I’m a bit late coming back to this (after a brief and pleasant correspondence with Mr Vado) and I am of course pleased that Ben is able to finish his story. Offering up the remaining issues as (very reasonably priced) downloads is a very sensible solution. Had that made it into the press release I would have had no complaint, and I apologise for my snarky tone and wish both Ben and SLG the best with this and future ventures.