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SYFY WIRE Dark Horse Comics

Private Dick Cal McDonald returns in Dark Horse's Criminal Macabre miniseries

By Jeff Spry
Criminal Hero

Steve Niles is best known for his genre-defining "bloodsuckers in Barrow, Alaska" vampire saga, 30 Days of Night, created with artist Ben Templesmith back in 2002.  But before that chilling creation he dabbled in the occult realm of an unsavory Constantine-like character, Cal McDonald.

Now Niles is sinking his teeth back into horror and ripping into the world of the old-school supernatural private eye and his undead enemies with Hungarian artist Gyula Nemeth in Dark Horse Comics' Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive look at the premiere issue arriving in comic shops Dec. 11.

Criminal Cover

Infused with a spirited, old-fashioned flair and hard-boiled charm, Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out is a stylish, 4-issue miniseries that revisits the Criminal Macabre series of novels, comics, and graphic novels that all started with binge-drinking dark creature hunter Cal McDonald back in 1990, then was resurrected in an infectious run of Dark Horse one-shots and miniseries starting in 2003.

Criminal 1

Written in the classic vein of mystery writers like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, The Big Bleed Out begins with McDonald found drifting in the squalid streets of L.A. by his ghoulish manservant/partner Mo'Lock. He's discovered in a disoriented, disheveled state wandering as a homeless vagrant when he's torn from his self-imposed retirement and forced to revive his old tricks in the monster-killing trade. But exactly what led him to this lowly state?

Cal is naturally reluctant to return to the madness and recounts a harrowing tale of love and betrayal that starts with a ravishing woman who just happens to be an influential vampire.

Criminal 2

Niles admits he was thrilled to leap back into Cal McDonald territory after an extended absence.

"It feels really great," Niles tells SYFY WIRE. "I’ve wanted to write Cal for a long time, but I wanted to wait for the right situation. Meeting Gyula last year while at a con triggered a story, so it all fell right into place. The Big Bleed Out tells two stories. One we follow Mo’Lock, Cal’s ghoul sidekick, and the other we follow Cal McDonald as he embarks on a new dreaded adventure … falling in love.

"Gyula has a very cool style where he can embrace Noir as easily as he embraces horror and monsters," he adds. "He captures the perfect mood and adds all kinds of layers to the story. I’ve really tried to back off and just let him do what he does, and I am very happy with the results. I hope people enjoy the new series."

Criminal 3

Now shuffle off into the paranormal pages in our exclusive sneak peek at Dark Horse's Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out #1 in the gallery below, then tell us if this murderous misadventure looks like something to add to your pull list.