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Lost Souls, Outcasts, and Underdogs: Steve Niles Talks Holy Diver Graphic Novel

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

By Mark Allard-Will

Power Metal, a subgenre of Metal that evokes powerful Fantasy - and occasionally horror - based imagery through not just its themed “concept” lyrics, but also the vivid album cover art that has become the moniker of the genre since pioneers such as Blind Guardian, Judas Priest and, of course, Ronny James Dio.

And, it’s the latter that we’re here to discuss today, the legend that is Dio, as graphic novel publisher, Z2 Comics, recently tasked Steve Niles - the giant of horror comic book writing - with penning a script for a graphic novel that brings Dio’s seminal record, Holy Diver, to visceral life.

We caught up with Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) to get the scoop on the upcoming Holy Diver book.

North Sask Music Zine: Steve, thank you for joining us. How did this project for a graphic novel based upon Holy Diver come about and how were you approached to be the writer to handle it? Steve Niles: I have to admit, I was taken aback at first, but the publisher thought it might be a great fit. Building the story from the album cover I remember asking “Sooo… am I writing this from horror?” What I learned is that since it really could be a monster story, which is what I love to write, they thought I should be the one to do it. NSMZ: Power Metal is a subgenre of Metal that is, of course, focused heavily on concept lyrics around Fantasy and horror themes. Can you offer us any insights in to what elements of Ronnie James Dio's lyrics from the album you've worked in as story elements? SN: All throughout Holy Diver, we’re asked to identify with the lost, the outcast, the underdogs. So with these broad strokes, I built the story. NSMZ: I understand that the main story arc of the graphic novel is focused on the album artwork and looks at telling the story of the preacher we see in the choppy waves. Could you tell us a bit more about what we can expect to see in the graphic novel, without giving too much away? SN: Wendy Dio had said “Ronnie wrote Holy Diver with the idea that the Priest was the bad guy. He says in numerous interviews when asked about the Monster drowning the Priest, ‘How do you know that the Priest isn't the Monster?’ I think that’s all I can add at this point. NSMZ: Can we expect to see the Steve Niles horror visuals we've come to know and love come into play in this book? SN: With Scott Hampton doing the artwork, there are definitely going to be some great visuals but I’ll leave it at that! NSMZ: What were the biggest challenges for you in working on a graphic novel that adapts one of Metal's most adored albums in to a full-length graphic novel script? SN: Doing justice to Dio’s vision through my own telling of a monster story. I just want to make fans happy.

NSMZ: You visited our province in 2017, when you were a guest at the Saskatchewan Entertainment Expo in 2017. Do you have a fondest memory of visiting Saskatoon for that show? And, if so, could you share it with us, please?

SN: I had a great time at that con. Got to meet a lot of cool people, eat great food and also got to hang with (comic book artist) Nat Jones who lives in Canada and has worked with me many times through the years. A great con!

So, there you have it music fans, your own inside track on an upcoming book based upon a legendary album, Holy Diver by DIO. Holy Diver will be published by Z2 Comics, is available to pre-order and will be available in book shops and comic shops in June 2021.

*Comic book art courtesy of Scott Hampton and Z2 comics

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