Back before actor Darren McGavin became known to movie audiences as “The Old Man” in that Christmas Classic, A Christmas Story, he starred as a character that captured fans of the supernatural as intrepid reporter Karl Kolchak in The Night Stalker.  Introduced in 1972, in a made for television movie, The Night Stalker was so well received that it prompted a follow-up movie: The Night Strangler in 1973. With both films scoring high ratings, the proposed third film instead became a series, also starring McGavin as Kolchack: The Night Stalker, chasing stories about supernatural creatures and monsters. This series only lasted one season, but has since developed a strong cult-following, me included.

So, with the 50th Anniversary of the original film coming this year, Moonstone Books and Editor James Aquilone gathered a talented group of artists and writers to create Kolchak: The Night Stalker 50th Anniversary Graphic Novel. This collection of original tales comes to Kickstarter January 10th with Aquilone contributing a story of his own along with illustrator Colton Worley, Satanic Panic, 88. Because of my own love of the Kolchak series, I jumped at the chance to talk to James about his upcoming book. So, let’s welcome Editor/Writer James Aquilone to GVN’s Talking Comics Interview.

Love of Books

GVN: Thank you for sharing a bit of your time with us James. Before we get started into your upcoming project, Kolchak: The Night Stalker 50th Anniversary Graphic Novel, Let us start with a bit of your background. What got you into writing and whose work inspired you?

JA: Since before I could even read, I was obsessed with books and comics. I loved nothing more than going to a bookstore or a library. So, it was only natural to want to start writing them. So far, I’ve written three novels in my Dead Jack, Zombie Detective series, edited the prose anthology Classic Monsters Unleashed, and published more than 20 short stories. In comics, my biggest writing inspirations were (as a youngster) Stan Lee, (as an adult) Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Brian K. Vaughn. In prose, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, and Anne Rice.

Embracing the Horror of it…Eventually

GVN: Your work in the Horror Genre is quite impressive (Dead Jack series) especially since you add a bit of humor into your projects. Were you always a horror fan and what films or television shows were your favorites as you started to create your own comics in the horror genre?

JA: I wasn’t always particularly a horror fan. When I was a kid, horror movies scared the crap out of me. I remember running home, straight down the middle of the street, after seeing one of the “Friday: The 13th” movies at a friend’s house and truly believing Jason was going to run out of someone’s driveway. Zombie movies terrified me even more. My wife is a huge horror fan and it rubbed off on me. I eventually embraced my fears and became a real horror fan in my 20s.

Karl Kolchak

GVN: I was the opposite. I loved horror films when I was younger but have grown away from them now. Too realistic effect wise, I guess. So, for your current project, you are collecting some of the most talented creators around for your book Kolchak: The Night Stalker 50th Anniversary Graphic Novel. Were you a fan of the television show and how did this project get started?

JA: I’m a huge fan of Kolchak. In my day job I’m a journalist, so Kolchak has always been special to me. When I realized the 50th anniversary of the first TV movie, The Night Stalker, was coming up, I thought it would be the perfect time to do a Kickstarter campaign for a graphic novel celebrating Kolchak and to produce a bunch of cool Kolchak merch. I pitched my idea to Moonstone Books, who holds the literary rights to Kolchak, and they partnered with me.

Recruiting the Talent

GVN: As I mentioned, you have recruited some seriously talented creators for this collection. Talents like Rodney Barnes (Killadelphia), Kim Newman (Anno Dracula), Peter David (The Incredible Hulk), and Jonathan Maberry (V-Wars). Not to mention amazing artists like Colton Worley (The Shadow), Warwick Johnson-Cadwell (Mr. Higgins Comes Home), J.K. Woodward (Star Trek), and Paul McCaffrey (Anno Dracula). How did you go about getting such an all-star group to contribute?

JA: Some of the contributors I’ve worked with before. Others I knew or was made aware were Kolchak fans, so I reached out to them. It wasn’t as hard as you’d think to get these legends to participate. Not when they’re huge fans.

Kickstarter Campaign

GVN: It really is amazing the fanbase that built up for a show that lasted only one season (not counting the television movies). But I was hooked from the first one. As you mentioned, you are working with Moonstone and Kickstarter for this project in 2022. Will Kickstarter’s recent announcement about their future with blockchain have any effect on your plans?

JA: No. There’s no effect on our plans. Backers will still use credit cards to back projects and then creators will ship out the rewards. Crowdfunding has always seemed like a pretty simple process to me. You preorder something and you get it when it’s ready. Kickstarter hasn’t given many details on how the blockchain will affect the platform, but I don’t imagine it will affect backers at all.

GVN: Part of the Kickstarter campaign will include a stand-alone Kolchak comic entitled “Satanic Panic ’88,” written by you and illustrated by Colton Worley. Tell us a bit about this addition to the Kolchak Project?

JA: “Satanic Panic ’88” will be a stand-alone 40-page comic that will include my story of the same name as well as two other stories from the graphic novel, with an amazing cover by Dan Brereton. First, I have to say it was a dream come true to write a Kolchak story. It takes place in the 1980s, a decade I’m very familiar with, and sees Kolchak investigating the disappearance of teen goth girl in a small town. There will be plenty of big hair, Satanism, and small-minded characters — which is exactly how I remember the ’80s.

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Future Projects

GVN: Thank you so much for your time, James. As a huge fan of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, I am very excited for this project. Before I let you go, would you like to share any other upcoming projects and where can fans follow you on social media and the web?

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. For Kolchak, you can go directly to the campaign page here bit.ly/Kolchak50. For info on me, head to JamesAquilone.com.

Moonstone Books Karl Kolchak: The Nightstalker 50th Anniversary Graphic Novel begins its Kickstarter Campaign on Monday, January 10th at 12:00 EST, 9:00 PST. You can check it out here.

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