...and man oh man did I fall for it in Necco Conversation Heart-"American Vampire, can I hold your hand?"-style. I guess that's what happens when I encounter a horror comic book with gorgeous art, terrific dialogue, tons of blood, and vampires that are monstrous. That last, you see, is the key that sets American Vampire apart from most every other bloodsucker who's sparkling around town these days. The book, published by Vertigo, is vicious and violent. In his introduction to this edition (which collects Cycle 1, the first 5 issues of the ongoing series), Stephen King says:
...it's all about giving back the teeth that the current "sweetie-vamp" craze has, by and large, stolen from the bloodsuckers. It's about making them scary again.King and Scott Snyder, the writer behind the series' concept, succeed in giving vampires...well, by giving them their bite back.
Wow, that's bad. Sorry.
There are two storylines at work in the book. One, written by Snyder, is the tale of Pearl Jones, a hardworking wannabe starlet scraping by in 1920s Los Angeles. King relates the origin of Skinner Sweet, a mean ol' outlaw turned vampire- America's first- in 1880. As the two stories intertwine, blood and bullets fly. It's European ideals versus the western frontier as somehow Snyder and King manage to give a fresh take on the vampire mythos. Most importantly, however, the two have created characters you want to learn about, characters you invest in and root for and root against. I kind of fell in love with everybody, and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.
I can't say enough good things about Rafael Albuquerque's art, either- I wanted to eat this book. From the crispness of Pearl's story to the lush washes of Skinner's, Albuquerque and coloist Dave McCaig have created a harsh, rugged world inhabited by distinctive characters.
The next cycle of American Vampire heads to Las Vegas in the 1930s, and there's more to come after that. I thought I was completely tired of the genre, but this book seriously bowled me over and I honestly can't wait for the next. For me, this is definitely a "hit the comic shop on Wednesday" series. Fans of horror, fans of bloodsuckers, fans of comics, fans of King- there's a lot to love here.
The bee-you-teous collected edition features all 5 issues of the first cycle as well as a cover gallery (including variants by the likes of Jim Lee and Paul Pope), a foreword by Stephen King and an afterword by Scott Snyder. Super wicked highly recommended, the hardcover hits comic stores on September 29th and bookstores everywhere on October 5th. Yeah comics!