Steve Niles Interview

Steve Niles is bringing horror back to comics, and people are noticing. His work with artist Ben Templesmith on IDW's 30 Days of Night proved extremely popular as has its sequel, Dark Days. But that's not all. His other projects include Image's Hellspawn, IDW's Wake the Dead, Dark Horse's Fused: Think Like a Machine, and IDW's Savage Membrane and Dark Horse's Criminal Macabre both feature his detective character, Cal McDonald. He has two new projects on the way from Dark Horse this month, Love Me Tenderloin and Freaks of the Heartland. Worlds of Westfield Content Editor Roger Ash recently got in touch with Niles to find out more about these projects.

Westfield: 30 Days of Night has gained much commercial and critical success and has done a lot to help revitalize the horror comics genre. What do you think there was about the book that caused so many people to take notice?

Steve Niles: I think the straightforwardness of the book helped. It's a horror story, nothing more, nothing less and that seems to be rare in horror comics. I also think Ben's artwork took a lot of people by surprise. He did (and continues to do) beautiful work and horror suits him perfectly.

Westfield: Have you always been a horror fan? If so, who are your influences?

Niles: I spent a brief period as a kid being terrified, but drawn to horror movies. After the nightmares faded it became an obsession. I love the macabre. I find it very comfortable. My biggest influence is Richard Matheson. He changed horror in the 50's. He made it real.

Westfield: This month, you bring back Cal McDonald in Love Me Tenderloin from Dark Horse. For those who have never read a Cal McDonald story, what can you tell us about the character and his world?

Niles: Cal's a private detective who has dedicated his messed up life to fighting monsters. He's a hard-drinking, hard-hitting, hard-boiled kind of lug and his best friend is a ghoul named Mo'Lock.

Westfield: What can you tell us about the story of Love Me Tenderloin?

Niles: Love Me Tenderloin is a departure for Cal. It's all romantic like. It's about what a person's soul is capable of doing if their heart is broken hard enough... and they have access to lots and lots of meat.

Westfield: You reunite on this book with artist Ben Templesmith whom you've previously worked with on 30 Days of Night, Dark Days, and Criminal Macabre. Why do you think you two work so well together?

Niles: We just have a very easy time working together. I hand him the scripts and he hands back the art and it's what I had in my head and better. He's just great.

Westfield: Also coming this month from Dark Horse is Freaks of the Heartland. What can you tell us about this book and who are the characters involved?

Niles: Freaks of the Heartland is a project (like Cal) I've worked on in various mediums for years. It's a small story with a big giant heart. I sometimes say it's somewhere between Village of the Damned and Sling Blade, but that doesn't really get it. It's essentially the story of two brothers stuck in a horrible place and how they relate. Greg Ruth, the artist on the project, has brought the story to life. He's so amazing; I can't wait for people to see.

Westfield: What do you think artist Greg Ruth brings to the book?

Niles: Now that I've seen what he's doing, I can't imagine any other artist doing it. He's an amazing talent. He gets the story, and he makes it so much better. His art has so much emotion. He's going to be huge.

Westfield: Do you have any other upcoming projects you'd like to mention?

Niles: How much time you got? Between IDW and Dark Horse I'm booked (Ha! Er.) through 2004. I'll continue to do more Cal McDonald. The next series will be called Last Train to Deadsville. I'm currently writing The Nail for Dark Horse with Rob Zombie, and working on the Criminal Macabre screenplay for MGM. I have a slew of books coming from IDW including something called Sacred Hearts which will be the next thing I do with Ben. It will also be IDW's first on-going series. It's sort of a horror soap opera about a priest, a vampire, a werewolf and the devil.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Niles: Just THANKS!