American Vampire

American VampireBy Scott Snyder and Stephen King; Artist: Rafael Albuquerque; Colorist: Dave McCaig; Letterer: Steve Wands; @2010, DC Comics.

Like most of my books, this one has a guilty tinge to it. I’ve been interested in the graphic novel form for a few years now, and when I saw the artwork in this book, I had to buy it. It wasn’t in the budget. I didn’t need it, but there I was, buying it. It’s taken me only a month to get around to reading it.

This is actually the first in a series that sets out to examine American culture through the decades. The timespan covered in this first book is 1880 up to 1926. Two stories are developed at the same time with a bit of jumping around in time. The 1880-1909 story takes place in Sidewinder and Lakeview, Colorado, while the 1925-26 story takes place in the Los Angeles area. In Stephen King’s introduction, he complains about the sissification of vampires in our popular culture. He says they are too beautiful, too pale, and too sexy.

King was drawn to this story because it lets the vampires be what they truly are: monsters. Artist Rafael Albuquerque does a beautiful job illustrating this book, but it is gory and gruesome in places. A couple of times I thought: I didn’t know two-dimensional art could do that. The story is OK, but didn’t blow me away. Skinner Sweet, the vampire villain, has been created very nicely with backstory and intrigue. I like the characters of Pearl and Hattie, but I’m a little upset about how their relationship evolved. I didn’t have enough backstory to buy into it. I don’t want to be a spoiler here, so I’ll leave it at that.

As a form, I like the graphic novel because it’s like holding a movie in your hands. I don’t like that my tendency is to read the words fast and flip through the pages fast. I have to try very hard to remember to slow down and enjoy the images. That’s why I’m drawn to the idea of writing a graphic novel with as few words as possible, maybe none.

Anyway, nice work. If you don’t like vampires or horror as a genre, don’t read it.

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