Horror, like vengeance, is often a dish best served cold.

Bleak. Brutal. Unforgiving. With a darkness and atmosphere so oppressive that it feels like everything is hopeless. Searching for only a glimmer of what makes us human. Trying to find a light to follow to let us survive.

And discovering only the existential terror of fields of snow stained red with blood.

As for the meat, it only comes two ways around here: frozen and burnt.”

30 Days of Night from Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith, and Robbie Robbins helped put the relatively nascent IDW Publishing on the map. And proved that horror, and vampires, could be a profitable avenue for comics again. With a simple, yet profound, concept: vampires in a town where the Sun doesn’t rise for a month. It’s the kind of idea that you wonder why no one had done it before.

Vampires descend on the small Alaskan town north of the Arctic Circle, Barrow (now known as Utqiagvik). The story does pay homage to older vampire tales by including a Renfield-like character as a harbinger to the vampires arrival, but these beasts are also slightly different. They’re somewhat more brutal. Bestial, even. More resilient than many of their fictional cousins. With full black eyes and a row of razor-sharp teeth. And there’s a bit of a love story to it, just to twist the knife further for some emotional beats.

It was the perfect plan.”

A large part of the raw fury of the tale is the visceral nature of Ben Templesmith’s artwork. The pale, unnatural look of the vampires’ design adds to the terror. Almost evoking a feeling like sharks. Though more than just the designs, his style evokes a bit of unease. Largely simple shapes and faces for the people and places, then washes of blue or brown. Some grey here and there. And a whole lot of shadows.

30 Days of Night

Robbie Robbins matches the rawness of the art with a shaky, jagged style to the lettering and word balloons of the vampires. Along with a few interesting twists for the narration boxes.

The cold didn’t bother him a bit. And the 30 days of night, well, that kept him working.”

It’s kind of incredible the legacy of 30 Days of Night by Niles, Templesmith, and Robbins. It gave credibility to IDW. Steve Niles was cemented as a horror writer to follow. Ben Templesmith’s career as a unique, amazing artist to watch was launched. It spawned two movies. And developed a franchise that has continued for two decades.

All from a tight, terror-filled tale.

30 Days of Night

Classic Comic Compendium: 30 DAYS OF NIGHT

30 Days of Night
Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Ben Templesmith
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Publisher: IDW
Release Date: June – October 2002
Available collected in 30 Days of Night Vol. 1, 30 Days of Night Omnibus Vol. 1, and 30 Days of Night Deluxe Edition: Book One

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!