Carl Kolchak was a newspaper reporter in New York City, until he got fired, but he was able to land a job in Las Vegas writing for the Las Vegas Daily News. In Las Vegas, he stumbled upon his biggest story yet - one that could get him back to the big time in New York City. The serial killer that was loose in the city might be a vampire. After that story, he always seemed to find himself reporting on other similarly unusual stories.
Carl Kolchak first appeared the 1972 novel The Night Stalker by Jeff Rice. The comics are based on the 1970's TV movies and series of the same name where Kolchak was played by Darren McGavin. The two television movies were written by Richard Matheson.
The Kolchak Papers
In the original unpublished novel by Jeff Rice, The Kolchak Papers, Carl Kolchak's real name is actually Karel. The name is Romanian (the same Romania as Transylvania, Vlad the Impaler, Dracula, etc.) As a young lad, his Romanian grandfather would tell him stories about vampires. Kolchak believed them.
Also, in the novel, Kolchak was a reporter in sunny Las Vegas in the summertime, so he wore a golf cap, Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts.
The Night Stalker (TV Movie 1972)
However, in the first TV movie, The Night Stalker, Darren McGavin (the actor who played Kolchak) changed a few things about Kolchak from the novel. Instead of Romanian, Kolchak was now Polish. Kolchak wouldn't wear shorts, as was the standard uniform for reporters in Las Vegas. Instead, he wore what a real New York City reporter would wear in the summer (at the time) - a straw hat, a seersucker suit, a tie, and white tennis shoes. (Kolchak didn't buy any new clothes after he was fired in New York City.)
Also, Richard Matheson (the writer of the movie), decided that, instead of believing in vampires, like in the novel, Kolchak would be skeptical about vampires, but still Kolchak can't deny what he sees.
Major Story Arcs
Two of the comic book stories ("The Get of Belial" and "Eve of Terror") are adaptations of two unfilmed scripts for the 1970's TV series.