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An obsession on fear: Steve Niles talks 'Dio: Holy Diver'

Comic Books

An obsession on fear: Steve Niles talks ‘Dio: Holy Diver’

Yes, a comic book about this most classic metal album.

There’s a new must-buy, music-inspired graphic novel on the stands: Dio: Holy Diver. Yes, someone wrote a 120-page folk horror graphic novel all about the seminal album from the lord of metal himself, Ronnie James Dio. Hey, if Neal Adams can draw an album cover for The Mighty Groundhogs, anything should be possible.

Writer Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, The October Faction) collaborated with artist Scott Hampton (Lucifer, Black Widow, and Batman) for the tale of a priest who ventures into a pagan island where the line between monster and hero blurs violently. You can see for yourself in the preview images below, but the lush art blends the wickedness of films like Midsommar and The Wicker Man.

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To learn a bit more about the project, I sat down with Niles to discuss the creation of this unique graphic novel experience. We also dig into his relationship with Dio and how this project came to be, among other tidbits.

Steve Niles 'Dio: Holy Diver'

AIPT: Steve, David Brooke here from, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions! I’ve been following and reviewing your work for years now and this project at Z2 looks rad! Can you talk a little bit about how it came together?

Steve Niles: Hi David! Thanks for the questions. The project came together pretty smoothly. Rantz Hoseley, who is an old friend, approached me and I said yes right away. I wrote a pitch for what I thought would make a fun story based on the famous album cover and it was shown to the Dio estate, essentially Wendy Dio, and she loved it and approved it. Same thing happened when I was finished with the script. It all went very smoothly.

AIPT: Does Dio, and Holy Diver specifically, hold a special place in your heart?

SN: I certainly knew the cover very well. I knew the music, too, but it had been a long time since I’d heard Dio. I threw myself back into the album when writing the outline and the imagery is so strong.

AIPT: You’ve been creating horror stories for some time now and I was curious, how has your relationship to horror changed over time? Not a simple question by any means, but after pondering your works I was curious how it all lead to this one.

SN: Believe it or not, as a young kid I was horrified and drawn to horror at the same time. I’d sneak and watch late night Creature Features and then be unable to sleep. As I grew older the fears became obsessions and here we are. These days I’d say I write a little calmer. I’m more interested in plot and character than how I kill them off.

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AIPT: The visuals in Dio: Holy Diver are incredibly unnerving and striking. How did you and Scott Hampton come to the final look of the book? The nude figures are particularly bizarre in how they are rendered amongst the environments!

SN: All credit goes to Scott for the visuals. He and I have worked together many times and I just knew he’d be perfect for the book.

AIPT: Is it recommended to listen to Dio while reading this graphic novel?

SN: It can’t hurt! I love listening to music when I read comics so this one is no different.

AIPT: Do you have any other projects in the works you’d like to talk about?

SN: I’m doing a lot of work with artist Szymon Kudranski. We’ve been working on new horror tales throughout the pandemic and have amassed three series that we’ll be announcing soon. Very excited about those. I have a new OGN with Ray Russell and Scott Hampton called Black Sparrow and another called Sacred Hearts with Nat Jones that hits stores soon.

AIPT: What comics are you reading right now?

SN: I just got the new book by Barry Windsor-Smith called Monsters. It’s huge and beautiful and I’ve been really digging it.

You can purchase Dio, Holy Diver via the Z2 website.

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