James Aquilone Ushers in the 50th Anniversary of Kolchak the Night Stalker With a New Anthology

A black and white banner with the words Kolchak: The Night Stalker 50th Anniversary and an image of a serious looking clean shaven white man wearing a trench coat and fedora

Forgive me; I am remiss. It seems that I omitted one very important Carl in my list of comic book Carls. Though Carl Kolchak began his career on film with the 1972 television film, The Night Stalker, the subsequent appearances of Darren McGavin as the dogged reporter on the case of supernatural happenings in the city include another film, a short-lived TV series, novellas, and comics. And now on Kickstarter, James Aquilone, with Moonstone Books, celebrates the 50th anniversary of Kolchak: The Night Stalker with a comics and prose anthology.

A middle-aged man surrounded by monsters and women who look scared
Cover by Colton Worley

Edited by Aquilone, the comics anthology will feature an impressive lineup of creators including writers Rodney Barnes (Killadelphia), Kim Newman (Anno Dracula), Peter David (The Incredible Hulk), and Jonathan Maberry (V-Wars), and illustrators Colton Worley (The Shadow), Warwick Johnson-Cadwell (Mr. Higgins Comes Home), J.K. Woodward (Star Trek), and Paul McCaffrey (Anno Dracula), with letters by Tom Napolitano.

Within the 120+ page anthology, Moonstone’s publisher Joe Gentile will offer a retrospective of Kolchak’s publication with the company which, interestingly, has previously only offered physical copies of their publications, making them quite the collector’s item, including the Stoker-award winning Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe by James Chambers. This new anthology will offer a digital version, but a hard or softcover edition is going to look great on any fan’s bookshelf.

The anthology will be introduced by horror author/screenwriter/producer Richard Christian Matheson, who is the son of Richard Matheson, the award-winning writer of The Night Stalker and its sequel, The Night Strangler, as well as several Kolchak books, series episodes, and his own classic horror novels, including I Am Legend.

Additionally, there will be a special 40-page standalone comic featuring a Dan Brereton cover, written by Aquilone and illustrated by Corley titled, “Satantic Panic ’88,” as well as lots of collectibles like t-shirts and dioramas.

A middle aged man in a pale suit, black tie, and a fedora stands in front of a winged horned demon
Cover by Dan Brereton

As if that wasn’t enough to whet a collector’s appetite, fans also have the opportunity to contribute their own prose to the anthology with submissions now open for 1,500 to 5,000-word stories about The Night Stalker.

If you’d never heard of Kolchak before, now’s a great time to meet him, with the movies available on YouTube and the series free to view at NBC.com. The anthology itself is a solid place to hop into the fandom as well. While the television movies and series and recent books and comics followed Kolchak on his supernatural investigations, the anthology will focus on Kolchak himself, explains Aquilone, moving through the decades of his life to shape his background. Maintaining the age of the original character who was born in 1922 (the same year as the actor who played him), the stories will begin with Kolchak’s first assignment on his high school newspaper as a teenager, moving all the way through to his final case in 2003.

For Aquilone, his interest in Kolchak came early on, growing up with the midnight reruns of the movies. Both he and his wife, also a fan of horror, with Kolchak inspiring many conversations and rewatches for the couple, didn’t realize that there was indeed a fandom beyond their own interest. When Aquilone discovered that 2022 would be the 50th anniversary of Kolchak as he pitched this idea to Moonstone, he was subsequently pleasantly surprised to find very active fandom communities scattered across social media. Similarly, the creators participating in the anthology have their own connections as fans of The Night Stalker, creating a domino effect of people willing to share their own takes on the character.

A man in a suit and fedora holds a crucifix towards a vampire holding a woman who is passed out in his arms. They are on the porch of a house. Lights are on inside
Jerry Ordway cover

The original series gained greater media interest in the ’90s with the introduction of The X-Files, with creator Chris Carter citing Kolchak as a “tremendous influence” on Scully and Mulder’s adventures. Aquilone credits Kolchak as an influence on his writing as well with his series Dead Jack: Zombie Detective. Kolchak and Clark Kent, he confesses, put him on the path of a journalism degree because it seemed like reporting and being a journalist would be an interesting and exciting job. Spoiler alert: it’s not. Moreover, he didn’t enjoy the persistence required of the reporting aspect. But in truth, Aquilone really wanted to be a novelist and an editor, which he’s since been able to do for the last 20 years.

At this point in his career, Aquilone decided that he wanted to get into comics. Combining his interest in Kolchak and recalling that Moonstone held the rights to the character, he approached them back in June 2021 with the idea of celebrating a major anniversary for the character, not realizing that the 50th anniversary was just around the corner in January 2022. Undaunted, he pitched the idea and Moonstone agreed.

Even as he turns his attention to the Kolchak anthology campaign, Aquilone is busy wrapping up the Kickstarter for Classic Monsters Unleashed, which, he proudly notes, was the highest-funded horror prose anthology in Kickstarter history. It also features several of the writers now lending their words to the Kolchak anthology. With two successful Kickstarter’s under his belt, Aquilone takes some learning experience into this new campaign, particularly when it comes to simplification and undervaluing versus overpromising with stretch goals, as well as taking international shipping into account, especially with the recent hike in shipping costs.

Bringing all of this experience as well as his love of the character into this anthology, Kolchak: The Night Stalker fans old and new have a lot to look forward to in celebrating 50 years of supernatural journalism and investigation.

Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

Publisher, mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.

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