Kolchak: Tales of the Night Stalker: The Rise & Fall of Carl Kolchak
by Dave Ulanksi, various artists (Moonstone, 2009)

I was a little worried when I read Dave Ulanski's introduction.

Ulanski, who wrote the tales in The Rise & Fall of Carl Kolchak, speaks of the familiarity of this character, who first made his appearance in The Night Stalker, a made-for-TV movie in 1972, followed by the short-lived American TV series Kolchak: The Night Stalker in 1974-75. Although he was not long for the televised world, Kolchak developed a cult following that has endured to this day. And yet, I was wholly unfamiliar with this guy, not even realizing until I picked up this book that he was a newspaper reporter.

I worried that I would find The Rise & Fall of Carl Kolchak, the first volume in Moonstone's Kolchak: Tales of the Night Stalker series of collected comics, unfathomable.

Not to worry. Ulanski's Kolchak is an easy fellow to get to know.

The long and short of it is, Kolchak gets sent out on stories that inevitably have some supernatural aspect to them. He survives the experience by the skin of his teeth and writes a story that his editor never believes and usually refuses to print. Rinse and repeat.

Forget that few newspapers would spend the kind of budget to send a Los Angeles-based reporter to New Orleans, Seattle -- and, heck, why not Egypt? -- on simple murder stories and the like. That's what wire services are for. Just gloss over that fact and enjoy the experience as Kolchak runs afoul of hungry shadows and walking plants, alluring demons, Bigfoot and even Bloody Mary of mirror fame. Enjoy his brief rise in popularity when a publisher becomes a fan of his work ... followed by a rapid decline when his editor and publisher join one of his bloodier excursions.

Moonstone sent me a handful of Kolchak books for review. Now, no longer trepidatious at being lost in Kolchak's world, I am eager to return.

review by
Tom Knapp

19 June 2010

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