Steve Niles, horror writer extraordinaire, has been around since the early 90s and has worked on titles like 30 Days of Night, Simon Dark, F.E.A.R. 3, Frankenstein: Alive, Alive! and of course Criminal Macabre, among many other titles. His return to Criminal Macabre, especially after his last crossover series with 30 Days of Night/Criminal Macabre earlier this year, has been long anticipated. With the release of Criminal Macabre: the Eyes of Frankenstein (Sept 25) from Dark Horse Comics, Mr. Niles took the time to answer a few questions about the new mini-series.
All-Comic: Cal McDonald is a very intense character, what inspired you to create him People link similarities between John Constantine and Cal McDonald, did the character Constantine influence you during Cal’s creation?
Steve Niles: No. Not really. There were a lot of other monster hunter characters who did though like Kolchak. When I created Cal I was reading a lot of Chandler and Hammet. I like Constantine but mainly what I read in Alan Moore’s run of Swamp Thing.
All-Comic: When you wrote Big-Head, that was published in Fly in My Eye: Daughters of Fly In My Eye by Arcane Comix, did you see Cal McDonald going somewhere with his own title?
Steve Niles: I had already written three short stories. Big Head was the second. Before that I wrote one that later turned into the comic Hairball which appeared in Dark Horse Presents.
All-Comic: What motivated you to continue with Cal McDonald and write Eyes of Frankenstein?
Steve Niles: I’ve been writing him a long time, two novels and countless comics. Cal just comes naturally to me. He’s the perfect character to tell a wide range of stories. With Eyes I’m heading towards wrapping a chapter of Cal’s life that has been brewing for a long time. Things have gotten very weird for Cal and all of that comes to a head now.
All-Comic: Which Cal McDonald story has been your personal favorite?
Steve Niles: Probably one I did with Ben Templesmith called Love Me Tenderloin.
All-Comic: Is there anything in particular that makes this title your favorite?
Steve Niles: Mostly it’s the way I know Cal will respond to horrific situations. I have a great deal of fun writing him. When I go over stories with current artist Chris Mitten or longtime friend and editor Scott Allie there’s a lot of laughing.
All-Comic: You’ve worked with an array of fantastic artists who have captured the tone of Cal McDonald and his adventures; if you pursue another McDonald story, are there any artists in particular that you’d like to collaborate with?
Steve Niles: I’m sticking with Mitten for the long haul now. We have one more arc planned. After that I’m wide open. I want to do more prose. There are a bunch of artist I want to do a Cal story with. I have one in the works with Bernie Wrightson. I’d love to talk Glenn Fabry to do a story one day. I just love his work.
All-Comic: Rumors have been circulating since 2009 of a Cal McDonald movie. Is there any information that you can provide us on the development of a movie?
Steve Niles: Cal has bounced around a lot. We now have the rights back and we are working on new plans as I write this. I’d like to see something happen someday but I don’t get distracted by the Hollywood stuff. I just focus on the stories.
All-Comic: Do you have any actor in mind that you’d like to see at least audition for the role of Cal?
Steve Niles: There have been a lot of names tossed around over the years. Tom Jane was very interested. I don’t have anyone in particular in mind and casting is such a weird thing. I’ll just leave it to the pros on that one. I always suggest Robert Mitchum, but he’s dead so…
All-Comic: In regards to movies, do you feel that the popularity of recent comic books movies, such as, The Avengers, Spider-Man, and the Dark Knight Trilogy, has helped comic book sales?
Steve Niles: I know cases where it has. It’s helped Walking Dead for sure. You see those everywhere now. It’s helped 30 Days of Night. Not the series but the graphic novel that directly related to the movie. I think that’s the key. Its tough for the superhero films because if you see the Avengers there are thousands of issues to choose from while the indie comics to film are generally just a few books that directly relate. It’s been very strange though , overall to see mainstream comic sales not really move much despite billion dollar box office results.
All-Comic: When you are working on a Cal McDonald story, do you listen to a particular band or music genre or watch a movie or television show to set the mood and give you inspiration?
Steve Niles: I listen to a lot of instrumental bands like Russian Circles or soundtracks. Nothing with lyrics.
All-Comic: If you’ve ever had to deal with writer’s block, how do you cope to break it?
Steve Niles: I read or go for a walk, watch a movie. usually I just need to distract myself and sooner or later my brain wanders back to stories.
All-Comic: Is there a certain story or character that you’ve created that you’d like to revisit?
Steve Niles: There are a lot of characters out there I’d love a shot at someday, The Hulk, Spectre are characters I love. Of the character I created, I’d still love to do more Simon Dark someday and also the Mystery Society. Those are just fun to write.
All-Comic: Is there anything in particular you involve yourself with during your downtime, such as, pursuing a hobby?
Steve Niles: I collect a lot of stuff so I love to go to vintage stores and sales. I love reading a films. Some time I play video games. I used to do it a lot more but I had too many nights end with “Is that the sun?” so I curbed it a bit.
All-Comic: Once again, thank you for taking the time and we look forward to more macabre goodness!
Steve Niles: Thanks!
Make sure you check out this new Dark Horse series from Mr. Niles and Christopher Mitten, the first issue is out Sept 25th, and while you’re at it you can check out our review right here. Get your pre-order on for the rest of the series because this is going to be one you won’t want to miss. Thanks to Steve for taking time out of his hectic schedule to do this interview.