Adapting Barry Gifford’s “Night People” Into Comics

Joelle Jones cover for "Night People" #1

It’s been over 30 years since the publication of Barry Gifford’s novel Night People — a book which David Lynch once optioned for film, which ultimately led to their collaboration on Lost Highway. This year will see Gifford’s novel adapted into a very different medium. A collaboration with co-writer Chris Condon and artist Brian Level, the first issue — from publisher Oni Press — will be in stores on March 6. Among the artists contributing covers to the project are J.H. Williams III, Joëlle Jones, and Jacob Phillips.

We’re pleased to present a preview of the first issue — along with commentary on the project’s development from several of the people who made it happen.


"Night People" issue 1 page 1

"Night People" issue 1 page 2

"Night People" issue 1 page 3

"Night People" issue 1 page 4

"Night People" issue 1 page 5

"Night People" issue 1 page 6

Chris Condon, co-writer: “When I set out to adapt Barry Gifford’s Night People, my main objective was to retain as much of the original novel as possible. I wanted this comic adaptation to be incredibly faithful to Barry’s work because he has such a distinctive voice that you’d be doing a disservice to the story, the characters, the readers, and yourself if you did otherwise. The key was to find the perfect balance between Barry, myself, and the artists who drew each issue. What we’ve wound up with is something that is identifiably Barry Gifford but with a distinct comic book twist.”

Megan Brown, editor: “Night People being a novel made of four separate, loosely connected stories—following everything from a pair of murderous lovers to a young girl hoping to help her alcoholic father—it made sense for us to bring in four different artists. Guided by Barry Gifford’s initial sketches and Brian Level’s character designs, each of these artists (Brian Level, Alexandre Tefenkgi, Artyom Topilin, and Marco Finnegan) was able to keep the connective tissue between the issues while utilizing their own strengths to explore the vibrant, violent, and often dark world Barry Gifford describes. In this way, we were able to better capture the stories as they existed in the original novel: separate yet connected.”

Hunter Gorinson, Publisher: “Barry Gifford’s work is so totally singular that it is no wonder he has stealthily shaped pop culture over the past half century — first, as the founder and editor of the hugely influential Black Lizard publishing imprint that canonized American noir fiction, then as the author of his own lipstick-and-gunpowder-tinged novels like Wild at Heart and Night People, and, finally, as the screenwriter of darkly iconic films like Lost Highway. His stories breathe and pulsate with desperate, lively characters that often seem to live beyond the page — so it only made sense to give the luridly captivating cast of Night People even more room to expand their stories as a comic series. When coupled with the cutting talents of writer Chris Condon and artists Brian Level, Alexandre Tefenkgi, Artyom Topilin, and Marco Finnegan, we knew we had an intensely powerful comic that could stand beside Barry’s brilliant original novel…and hopefully lure a few more lost souls along the way.”


All artwork courtesy of Oni Press. Cover image above by Joelle Jones.

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