Criminal Macabre: A Cal McDonald Mystery

Criminal Macabre: A Cal McDonald Mystery is a comic series book starring Cal McDonald, an antihero American comic book character created in 1990 by writer Steve Niles . The character’s adventures have been published by Dark Horse Comics and later IDW Publishing .

Cal himself is akin to John Constantine , a DC Comics paranormal detective . He takes illicit drugs, and befriends a network of ghouls to assist him in his cases. Policemen do not really care to be involved with Cal.

Publishing history

Cal McDonald’s first story, entitled “Big-Head”, was released in 1990 as part of the anthology comic Fly in My Eye: Daughters of Fly In My Eye from Arcane Comix, with art by Jim Whiting . This story led directly to the “Hairball”, serialized in Dark Horse Presents # 102-105 in 1996 . Hairball was later printed as a one-shot comic .

We have two novels, Savage Membrane , and Guns, Drugs and Monsters . In the latter, Cal Relocated to Los Angeles, after following a living, searching for its body.

Following the novels, The Dark Horse Comics mini-series , Criminal Macabre (2003) with Ben Templesmith as artist. The two would be up for a one-shot comic titled “Love Me Tenderloin” in 2004. Cal’s adventures have continued in other mini-series such as “Last Train to Deadsville” and “Supernatural Freak Machine”, both with artist Kelley Jones where he re-encountered the severed head. Next, he starred in the mini-series “Two Red Eyes” with artist Kyle Hotz , where he does battle with Nosferatu vampire . He also made a brief appearance in short story format in the Dark Horse Comics released titleDrawing on your Nightmares with Ben Templesmith as artist. From there, he went to “My Demon Baby” and “Cell Block 666” with artist Nick Stakal . The series “Two Red Eyes” started a trend continuing in “My Demon Baby”, where action actor Thomas Jane would portray Cal on the issue’s covers, stylized by Tim Bradstreet artist .

Coined for the title of a new comic book series in 2003 titled Dial M for Monster: A Cal McDonald Collection . This novel included several short stories featuring Cal.

Macabre: The Complete Cal McDonald Stories collects the whole catalog of Cal McDonald’s short stories ( not the comic stories) until this point. It was released on December 26 of 2007 .

Series titles

  • Hairball (IDW one-shot, collected from Dark Horse Presents v1 102-105)
  • Criminal Macabre (The Dark Horse 5-issue mini-series, 2003)
  • Love Me Tenderloin (One-shot Dark Horse, Criminal Macabre 6)
  • Drawing on your Nightmares (Dark Horse Entitled short story Letter to BS )
  • Last Train to Deadsville (The Dark Horse 4-issue mini-series, 2004)
  • Supernatural Freak Machine (IDW published 1-3), Dark Horse Included issues 4 and 5 in the Criminal Macabre Omnibus Vol.1 and the Supernatural Freak Machine collection
  • Feat of Clay (Dark Horse One-shot, 2006)
  • Two Red Eyes (Black Horse 4-issue mini-series, 2007)
  • My Demon Baby (The Dark Horse 4-issue mini-series, 2008)
  • Cell Block 666 (Dark Horse 4-issue mini-series, 2009)
  • Call Me Monster ( FCBD Dark Horse 2011 one-shot)
  • When Freaks Collide (Dark Horse One-shot Crossover with The Goon )
  • No Peace for Dead Men (Dark Horse One-Shot, 2011)
  • Die, Die, My Darling! (Dark Horse one-shot, collected from Dark Horse Presents v2 4-6, 2012)
  • Final Night (Dark Horse 4-issue crossover with 30 Days of Night )
  • They Fight by Night (Dark Horse one-shot, 2012)
  • The Iron Spirit (Dark Horse Oversized Deluxe Hardcover One-Shot, 2012)
  • The Eyes of Frankenstein (Dark Horse 4-issue mini-series, 2013)
  • The Third Child (Dark Horse 4-issue mini-series, 2014)

Collected editions

The series has been collected from a number of trade paperbacks :

title artist ISBN collects
Criminal Macabre Ben Templesmith ISBN  1-56971-935-7 Issues 1-5
Last Train to Deadsville Kelley Jones ISBN  1-59307-107-8 Last Train To Deadsville 1-4 (Criminal Macabre 7-10)
Supernatural Freak Machine Kelley Jones ISBN  1-59307-731-9 Supernatural Freak Machine 1-5 (Criminal Macabre 11-15)
Two Red Eyes Kyle Hotz ISBN  1-59307-843-9 Two Red Eyes 1-4 (Criminal Macabre 17-20)
My Demon Baby Nick Stakal ISBN  1-59307-908-7 My Demon Baby 1-4 (Criminal Macabre 21-24)
Cell Block 666 Nick Stakal ISBN  1-59307-908-7 Cell Block 666 1-4 (Criminal Macabre 25-28)
Omnibus Vol. 1 Ben Templesmith and Kelley Jones ISBN  1-59582-746-3 Issues 1-5, Love Me Tenderloin, Last Train to Deadville 1-4, Supernatural Freak Machine 1-5
Omnibus Vol. 2 ISBN  1-59582-746-3 Two Red Eyes 1-4, My Demon Baby 1-4, Cell Block 666 1-4, The Creepy Tree, The Trouble With Brains, Hairball
Omnibus Vol. 3 ISBN  978-1-61655-648-8 Final Night: The 30 Days Of Night Crossover 1-4, The Eyes Of Frankenstein 1-4, The Iron Spirit, Call Me Monster, When Freaks Collide, No Peace For Dead Men, Die! Die! My Darling, They Fight By Night

In other media


title Publisher ISBN Release date
Savage Membrane Idea & Design Works ISBN  978-0-9712282-3-8 April 2002
Guns, Drugs & Monsters Idea & Design Works ISBN  978-0-9719775-2-5 February 2005
Dial M For Monster Idea & Design Works ISBN  1-932382-05-4 September 2003
Macabre Crime: The Complete Cal McDonald Stories Dark Horse Books ISBN  1-59582-118-X December 2007


In Cal McDonald’s film, Steve Niles does not want to be compromised or “water down” Cal McDonald, making it tough to find a studio that will finance the film as is . [1]

Universal Pictures signed a deal to produce a crime movie with Kyle Ward scripting. It was set for release in 2010. [2]


  1. Jump up^ “Steve Niles Interview” . 2010-10-07 . Retrieved 2010-10-11 .
  2. Jump up^ Variety article 08/13/09


  • Cal McDonald at the Comic Book DB
  • ‘ Criminal Macabre: A Cal McDonald Mystery’ at the Grand Comics Database
  • Cal McDonald at IDW Publishing
  • Criminal Macabre at Dark Horse

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