Kickstarting Comics: Talking With James Aquilone About ‘Kolchak The Night Stalker’ Anthology

by Olly MacNamee
Journalist by day, editor by night, James Aquilone is putting together an all-new anthology collection, Kolchak The Night Stalker 50th Anniversary Graphic Novel, that you’ll find currently crowdfunding (and successfully too already) on Kickstarter. A collection of ten original stories that spans Kolchak’s entire lifetime from the ’30s to the ’00s with some rather impressive contributors too. All of which I was able to quiz Aquilone on when I caught up with him to talk all about this cult favourite character and the new project:

Olly MacNamee: One TV movie – the highest rated in TV history – and one season, yet Kolchak the Night Stalker still has a hardcore fan following. You’re bringing him back in a new 120 page original graphic novel collection, but what’s your own fascination with him, and why chose this particular TV character for such a prestigious project?

James Aquilone: At the day job, I’m a journalist and I got into this line of work because of Kolchak and other fictional reporters like Clark Kent. They combined my love of action heroes and writing. There’s something pretty cool in the idea of hunting monsters or fighting supervillains and then at the end of the day sitting at a typewriter and writing the story, as they did. I wonder if Superman had super-spelling as a power…

OM: I’m intrigued to see you’ll be presenting stories from right across his life. Starting in the 1930s with a story by David Avallone and Julius Ohta and spanning all decades in between and finishing off with a tale by James Chambers and Paul McCaffrey. Why take this approach for this anthology, rather than simply untold tales of the Kolchak many remember from TV?

JA: I wanted to know what Kolchak was doing at different points in his life. I especially wanted to see him in his teens tackling his first assignment on the high school paper. With this approach we get to see him throughout his life so it’s a sort of a life history with monsters. I thought that was fitting for a 50th anniversary.

Cover by J.K. Woodward
OM: What kind of tales of terror should readers expect if they back this new anthology?

JA: Expect vampires and zombies and demons and were-rats. Yes, were-rats! Tim Waggoner is doing that story, set in the 1970s. Tim is an amazing horror writer. He recently published the novelization of Halloween Kills and he’s done tie-in novels for Supernatural. So he’s perfectly suited to give us a horrifying Kolchak story. I can’t wait to read that.
OM: Speaking about contributors, there’s certainly a good selection of great creators in there such as Kim Newman (Anno Dracula), Peter David (The Incredible Hulk) and Nancy Collins (Swamp Thing, Vampirella) to name but a few. How did you get these involved (fans themselves, I would imagine) and coordinate all these teams? That must be a logistical nightmare at times.

JA: I was aware that a few of them, like Kim Newman and Rodney Barnes, were big Kolchak fans so I reached out to them. Others I worked with before or I just took a chance they were fans and I shot them an email.
It certainly can be a lot of work, but I’ll sleep when the project is done.
Cover by Jerry Ordway

OM: Of course, this is comics, so budget isn’t an issue. Has this led to any jaw-dropping moments as the artwork started coming in? I find horror can often bring the best out in both writers and artists involved. Was that the case on this project?

JA: Absolutely. We have amazing covers from J.K. Woodward, Jerry Ordway, Colton Worley and Dan Brereton. Then the pages started coming in and they blew my mind. You can see the preview pages by Paul McCaffrey for Kim Newman’s story on the Kickstarter page. He perfectly captured the feel of The Night Stalker and Zac Atkinson’s colors have that ’70s horror vibe. The pages are just gorgeous. We’ll be previewing some pages from J.K. Woodward and Colton Worley soon and they’re crazy good, too.

OM: Kickstarters can come with some great reward tiers and this campaign is no different. What have you included as extras fans can pledge for when visiting this campaign that’s still got a good way to go yet?

JA: Besides the anthology and one-shot comic book, we have a couple of cool T-shirts. One is a baseball theme, called The Night Stalkers, and it was designed by Zac Atkinson. We have a 50th anniversary poster that lists all the TV movies and episodes with their airdates. We even have Kolchak dioramas that will be handcrafted and painted.

Cover by Dan Brereton

OM: Should this prove successful, and something tells me it will, can we hope for more Kolchak comic book capers in the future?

JA: The publisher, Moonstone Books, has published Kolchak comic books and graphic novels in the past, but I hope this spurs a resurgence and we see them on a more regular basis. It’s as much fun to write a Kolchak story as it is to watch the show or read the comics, so with luck I’ll be involved in more books.

You can back the campaign, launched this week, here now. And check out a preview of one of the ten tales to be found in this new book below:

Artwork by Paul McCaffrey
Artwork by Paul McCaffrey
Artwork by Paul McCaffrey
Artwork by Paul McCaffrey
Artwork by Paul McCaffrey

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