Melding the genres of horror and paranormal investigation is an idea that is written in the storytelling DNA of so many of our favorite pieces of fiction, from The X-Files to Twin Peaks to even Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And that marriage of tropes is found in one of its most beloved examples—Kolchak: The Night Stalker. First introduced as a TV movie, then a cult television series, the script of the original film was based on an unpublished novel by Jeff Rice, a book that eventually was released after the movie’s success. Following Carl Kolchak, a reporter who investigates mysteries involving the supernatural and macabre, the novel and the series were unlike anything audiences had seen at that time, influencing creators ranging from David Dastmalchian, The X-Files’ Chris Carter, and Killadelphia’s Rodney Barnes.

Monstrous Books recently acquired the rights to the original Kolchak: The Night Stalker and, just in time for the book’s 50th anniversary, has launched a Kickstarter to bring a new edition of Rice’s novel to the hands of new and old fans alike. In the novel’s new deluxe, limited edition, Monstrous includes the original text in hardcover with essays from Dastmalchian and Barnes, with illustrations by The Boys’ Russ Braun. I spoke with editor, writer, and Monstrous Books editor James Aquilone recently about the genesis of this new edition of novelist Jeff Rice’s Kolchak: The Night Stalker novel, what we can expect to see in the deluxe, limited printing, illustrator Russ Braun’s contributions to the book, and the enduring legacy of the character of Carl Kolchak.



FreakSugar: Before we get into the book itself, what is your personal history with Kolchak: The Night Stalker as a fan?

James Aquilone: I first saw Kolchak in reruns way back when and instantly fell in love. A few years back I revisited the series and knew I had to get involved in the Kolchak universe. Then, I somehow ended up here.

FS: What can you tell us about this new edition of Jeff Rice’s original novel?

JA: The book itself will be a hardcover with red painted edges and a sewn-in bookmark. We’ve restored the text to the original manuscript (a lot had been deleted in the last reprint), fixed all the typos (hopefully!), and added a bunch of bonus material and illustrations.

David Dastmalchian wrote a foreword, Rodney Barnes wrote an afterword, Mark Dawidziak wrote a profile of Kolchak creator Jeff Rice, and Russ Braun did the cover and interior art.



FS: Russ Braun is producing some interior illustrations for this edition. What can you tell us about those and his take on Kolchak?

JA: We have three illustrations so far, and are hoping to add more through the Kickstarter campaign. Russ did a great job depicting a few iconic scenes from the story and the characters—we went with a scarier Janos Skorzeny that I love—and I can’t wait to see what other art he creates.

FS: Many creators have credited Rice and Kolchak in influencing their careers. What can you say about the essays and reflections included with this new edition?

JA: David Dastmalchian and Rodney Barnes talk about the influence on Kolchak on their work. You can definitely see that influence in David’s Count Crowley and Rodney’s Killadelphia. In David’s case, he also talks about how he connected personally with Kolchak. They’re really special pieces.

FS: Following up on that, how has Kolchak impacted your own career?

JA: Kolchak was integral in my career as a journalist. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and it seemed that being a reporter would allow me not only to write but have some adventure too. Things didn’t turn out quite like Kolchak, but the upside is that I now get to write, edit, and publish Kolchak stories. So my life has come full circle.



FS: The new edition is being funded via Kickstarter. What can you tell us about the campaign?

JA: We are looking to use the campaign to add more interior illustrations. As I said we already have three illustrations, but I’d like to have at least five or six. Everyone who preorders the hardcover will get a Kolchak fan club membership card, which has a press badge on the back, and anyone who backs a physical reward in the first 48 hours will get a free Kolchak button. We’ll also have prints, signed comics, and a few surprises.

FS: Kolchak has appeared in various media over the years. What do you think keeps readers and viewers coming back to Kolchak and his world?

JA: Kolchak stories are always entertaining and fun, but I think the key is the character of Carl Kolchak. You can’t help but like Carl. He’s just a regular guy doing his job…and in the process confronts monsters. Who wouldn’t want that job?

As of this publication, the Kickstarter for the deluxe, limited edition of the Kolchak: The Night Stalker novel has already met its initial goal more than 15 times over, with 23 days still left in the campaign. Whether you’re a longtime fan of Kolchak tales or you’re a new reader, this new deluxe edition of author Jeff Rice’s Kolchak: The Night Stalker novel is well worth a look. This is clearly a labor of love for James Aquilone, Monstrous Books, Russ Braun, and everyone who is pouring their work to make this project a reality.

From the official press release:

In 1972 KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER transfixed audiences. The movie became the highest-rated TV movie in U.S. history and spawned the cult TV series starring Darren McGavin. The TV movie’s iconic screenplay was written by horror legend and novelist Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) and was based on an unpublished novel by Jeff Rice, which was released the following year. Now Bram Stoker Award-winning editor and writer James Aquilone and Monstrous Books have acquired the print rights to Kolchak and will be releasing a limited edition of Jeff Rice’s original, cult novel. The new, deluxe hardcover edition will feature a new foreword by writer and actor David Dastmalchian (Count CrowleyLate Night with the Devil), an all-new afterword by writer and producer Rodney Barnes (Killadelphia), and a cover and spot illustrations by Russ Braun (The Boys). The Monstrous Books deluxe hardcover edition of KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER will be funded via a Kickstarter campaign, with a limited print run of 1973 copies.

“Kolchak and the world created by Jeff Rice has been such a huge inspiration to the person and storyteller that I have become,” said David Dastmalchian. “From my comic, COUNT CROWLEY, to the characters, films and series I love creating, there is always a glow of the ghost of our loveable pain-in-the-neck reporter. Grateful that James and the Monstrous Books team are doing such amazing work in their effort to bring this fantastic narrative to people around the world.”

“Kolchak the Nightstalker was one of the early inspirations in my writing career,” said Rodney Barnes. “The opportunity to be a part of Kolchak’s 50th anniversary was truly an honor. And the beautiful collection of stories James Aquilone assembled is the perfect statement of appreciation for this iconic character.”

In the KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER novel, the corpses of young women – many of whom are working night jobs – are discovered, drained of blood, with unusual puncture marks on their necks.

“Reporter Carl Kolchak was television’s first paranormal investigator and his determined search for the truth directly influenced a generation of seminal TV shows including Twin Peaks, The X-Files, Supernatural, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” said Aquilone, who edited the award-winning Kolchak: The NIght Stalker 50th Anniversary graphic novel. “Jeff Rice was a Las Vegas-based journalist by day and a novelist by night and his original novel is set on the streets of the country’s gambling mecca. It’s a thrilling, pulpy read and our plan is that this new edition of the original novel will usher in a new era for Kolchak books.”

KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER boasts a cover and interior illustrations by Russ Braun (The Boys). The limited-edition hardcover will feature painted edges and a sewn-in bookmark. To support the project, visit Kickstarter.