“Here’s what vampires shouldn’t be: pallid detectives who drink Bloody Marys and only work at night; lovelorn southern gentlemen, anorexic teenage girls; boy-toys with big dewy eyes. What should they be? Killers, honey. Stone killers who never get enough of that tasty Type-A.” – from the “Suck on This” introduction by Stephen King in American Vampire Volume 1.
Let me begin by saying I’ve never really had an interest in reading vampire lore, I haven’t read any of the Ann Rice novels, True Blood series, or the Twilight books. But sometime last year while browsing the racks at the comic book store I saw the cover of the first issue of American Vampire – Stephen King’s name at the top, picture of the old west, and image of a girl from the 1920’s – it looked like a new spin on the vampire concept. Before I could grab it a guy in front of me took the last copy. Fortunately for Christmas I received the first five issues as a gift. I started reading them consecutively, the beginning story arc takes place in two time periods, the 1920’s and 1880’s. I love stories in the old west (especially after playing Red Dead Redemption) and of America evolving in the early 1900’s, so far win win. But it was when I got to issue two that I was sucked (no pun intended) in and haven’t stopped reading the monthly series since. About mid-way through the second issue there’s this wonderful full page panel of one of the character’s first transformations into a vampire and it’s absolutely terrifying. I love that comic book art can at times be as scary as watching that pivotal point in a horror film where you just can’t help hiding behind the pillow, peeking carefully over the edge. Rafael Albuquerque, the main artist of the series, does an excellent job expressing the buildup of the story visually, causing you to gasp as you turn the page.
I won’t give away too much of the story but the premise is — in America a new bloodline of vampires has emerged. Which means all new rules, direct sunlight doesn’t affect them, and it’s much harder to kill them. As of June we’re up to 14 issues all written by Scott Snyder, the first 5 of the series were co-written by Stephen King. While Stephen King is an excellent writer, I can’t help but love the way Snyder tells a story. Stephen King writes the origin story for Skinner Sweet, an outlaw in Colorado with that perfect evil smirk, and Scott Snyder introduces Pearl Jones, a hardworking girl following her dream to become an actor in Los Angeles during the 1920’s. Eventually the two time lines meet up, and you follow these characters through the evolution of America from the 1880’s to World War II in the 1940’s. All along discovering different vampire bloodlines from the European money hungry business men who still have to avoid sunlight to a mutated super killer monster that doesn’t take on the human form. There’s another shocking full page panel of these monsters drawn by Rafael Albuquerque. His artwork really sets the tone for the series with his gritty style.
The author, Scott Snyder, has also started a five issue series this month with artist Sean Murphy, called American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest. This story is told through Felicia Book, a character we’re introduced to in the second story arc of the main series. With this mini-series there will be more back story on the organization she’s involved in, Vassals of the Morning Star, that we’ve only seen glimpses of in the main series. The first issue provides enough back story so you could begin the mini-series without reading the main series, though I highly recommend reading the series as a whole.
Besides this project Scott Snyder also keeps busy writing two current comic books series: Batman Detective Comics (starting with #871) and Gates of Gotham. And his partner in crime Rafael Albuquerque, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists, creates the cover art for American Vampire and illustrates a couple of the story arcs, which are some of my favorite panels throughout the series. He’s created art for Blue Beetle, Superman/Batman, Nomad: Girl Without a World, and 24Seven.
So if you’re looking for something new, a different spin on the traditional vampire lore, then I suggest picking up this series. Each story arc introduces a new element that really keeps the story fresh, and not to mention the last panel of each issue always leaves you at a horrifying moment to keep you wondering what will happen next.
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Well done Amy! Thanks again!