Moonstone Books celebrates the 50th anniversary of Kolchak: The Night Stalker with its own graphic novel. The Kickstarter campaign for the 100+page comic book will feature stories by Rodney Barnes, Peter David, Jonathan Maberry, R.C. Matheson, Kim Newman, and more.
This all-new, full-color graphic novel will feature 10 exciting stories chronicling the life of monster-hunting reporter Carl Kolchak. The anthology will be available in limited-edition softcover and hardcover editions, both with variant covers.
With the Kickstarter campaign taking place, editor James Aquilone opens up about the graphic novel, the family legacy behind the monster-hunting reporter, and the contributions to the anthology. Check out the rewards for the campaign Aquilone and I head on over the writer’s studio to discuss the craft of comic book storytelling.
VILLAIN MEDIA: Kolchak can be interpreted as a tabloid reporter searching for his next big story, or an undaunted truth-seeker. What do you think makes the Night Stalker still resonate with modern audiences since the 70s?
JAMES AQUILONE: It still holds up. The Night Stalker was written by Richard Matheson, the greatest horror writer of the 20th century (sorry, Stephen King), so that helps. And Darren McGavin was just amazing in the role. He’s funny and goofy but still somehow comes across as highly competent and likeable. The series was the perfect blend of horror and humor. It legitimately scared people back then and is still creepy, and it will still make you laugh. It was the highest rated TV movie ever at the time for a good reason.
VM: Tell me about the introduction by Richard Christian Matheson, the son of The Night Strangler writer Richard Matheson. Richard Christian Matheson’s participation feels like the 50th anniversary graphic novel is paying tribute to the character while also honoring family legacy.
JA: I haven’t seen the intro yet, but the entire Kickstarter campaign is a tribute to the character while also honoring the Matheson legacy. RC Matheson wrote a story for my last anthology, Classic Monsters Unleashed, so he was naturally the first person I contacted for the Kolchak project. Besides the intro, he’s also writing one of the stories, which is historic for several reasons. Not only will a Matheson be returning to the world of Kolchak, but this will be RC’s first comic. While he’s written probably hundreds of scripts, he’s never written a comic script before. His story is set in the 1960s and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with.
VM: The graphic novel has 10 stories about the monster-hunting reporter from contributors such as Peter David, Jonathan Maberry, and Rodney Barnes. With the order of the anthology, what do you want the stories to represent for the readers?
JA: Each story takes place in a different decade of Kolchak’s life, from the 1930s to the early ’00s. I want the stories to represent the full life, as much as possible, of Kolchak. The stories will range from his first investigation as a high school reporter to his last. We’ll get to see him at every stage of his life — but no matter how young or old Kolchak is he’ll be wearing his straw hat.
VM: Because Kolchak has been in TV movies and the Night Stalker was rebooted in 2005, was there a challenge to interpret a character from a different visual medium into the comic book medium?
JA: This certainly isn’t a reboot. I see it as a continuation of the classic Kolchak series. The great thing about doing it as a comic book is that we don’t have to recast Darren McGavin. We can continue the series with the same or a similar look. One day, with Deep Fakes, we could recreate old shows, but I think that will feel a bit bizarre. Comics are the best place to do this type of thing. I love the Batman ’66 and how they continue the old series with Adam West and Burt Ward. I love that comics can bring these old shows back to life, especially the ones that ended too soon.
If there’s a challenge, it’s getting the likenesses right. But you can see from our artwork we got it right while still mixing things up in a variety of styles.
VM: Moonstone Books is also creating a special 40-page standalone comic for the Kickstarter, featuring the story, “Satanic Panic,” written by you and illustrated by Colton Worley, as well as featuring a cover by Dan Brereton. What can you say about “Satanic Panic ’88?”
JA: The story takes place in 1988 and has Kolchak investigating the disappearance of teen goth girl in a small town that’s embroiled in the Satanic Panic of the time. Some of it was inspired by the West Memphis Three case and is the definitely the type of thing Kolchak would be investigating had the show reached the ’80s.
VM: How do you think the 50th anniversary graphic novel changed you as an editor/storyteller?
JA: It’s certainly made me more confident as an editor and storyteller. It’s been a ton of work, but I’ve learned so much, and getting to work with so many legendary creators has been very rewarding. It’s also taught me that I probably need an intern or a long nap.
VM: What projects are you working on now?
JA: I’ll be launching another Kickstarter in the spring. That will be for Shakespeare Unleashed, a prose anthology of short horror stories based on Shakespearean characters and plays. It’s the follow-up to Classic Monsters Unleashed, my last Kickstarted book that I edited for Crystal Lake Publishing and Black Spot Books