Archive for the ‘The Night Stalker’ Tag

Kolchak Meets Poe in New Graphic Novel   Leave a comment

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By C. Michael Forsyth

Before there was The X Files and Supernatural, there was Kolchak: The Nightstalker, and before H.P. Lovecraft, there was Edgar Allan Poe. Both these wellsprings of the macabre fueled my imagination when I was a teenager, and it is a delight to see them combined in a recent graphic novel.

In Kolchak, The Night Stalker: Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe, the intrepid monster-chasing reporter played by Darren McGavin in the 1974-1975 TV show, is back in action, knee-deep in paranormal mysteries revolving around tales by Poe—the grandfather of the weird short story. The writer, James Chambers, does a smashing job of recapturing the personality of the determined underdog, as well as the show’s storytelling style. In the book, Kolchak has a series of adventures, each playing off of a Poe story, including The Telltale Heart, The Premature Burial, the Black Cat, the Tomb of Ligeia and The Masque of the Red Death. These episodes, while satisfying reads individually, are all linked by a narrative that runs through the graphic novel—concerning a magician obsessed with Poe. There are plenty of nuggets to please Poe fans, such as a character named Annabelle Lee.

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REPORTER Kolchak hasn’t lost his knack for uncovering the uncanny.

Carl Kolchak is unchanged, still sporting his signature rumpled white suit and straw hat. He has made a few concessions to 2017. Instead of his old tape recorder and typewriter, he travels with a laptop that he uses to Skype his boss, the grumpy Tony Vincenzo. An interesting touch is that three different artists with distinct styles contributed to the book, depicting the character with varying degrees of success. Between Luis Czerniawski, Felipe Kroll and Jim Fern, I think the last does the best job in nailing McGavin’s mischievous Irish face. To me, the actor resembled a less-handsome Sean Connery.

Darren Best

ICONIC Kolchak was only on TV for one year.

I was a huge fan of the series, in which Kolchak, a reporter for the fictional INS wire service, investigated crimes that invariably turned out to have a supernatural cause. The police were useless, either refusing to believe anything abnormal was going on, or getting tossed about like rag dolls by whatever creature happened to be wreaking havoc that week. So, the plucky journalist always had to take matters into his own hands and dispatch the monster.

In the course of the show, Kolchak’s investigative reporting turned up vampires, werewolves, mummies, doppelgangers and many other of the usual unusual suspects. What made the show so great was McGavin’s character: sly, streetwise, with a sense of humor. I often thought that Kolchak would be fun to follow even if there were no supernatural element and he was doggedly exposing crooked politicians and solving ordinary crimes.

Although the iconic character was McGavin’s best work and is his chief legacy as an actor, he wasn’t satisfied with the show, despite rewriting many scenes himself, and bailed after one season. He was principally frustrated with the monster-of-the-week aspect of the show. This was, indeed, its main weakness. It was never explained why Kolchak “just happened” to stumble onto the supernatural on a regular basis. Chris Carter, creator of The X Files, cites The Night Stalker as his biggest source of inspiration. And in his show that problem is solved: his heroes’ job is hunting the paranormal.

As a kid watching The Night Stalker, I came up with my own explanation that is as good as any. Kolchak, although he doesn’t know it, has been appointed by some higher power to be a champion of good, a white-suited knight battling the darkness.


Check out works by this reviewer, including the horror novel Hour of the BeastHERE.

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In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

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