The Case for American Vampire

Friday, February 24, 2012

It came to my attention last year that many of my friends, despite being aware of my affection for American Vampire, have not yet tried out this series. They claim to not be comic readers themselves (LAME) and/or seem to be of the opinion that vampires are played out. While I will admit that the series is not for everyone, I wanted to take a moment to clarify just how awesome it is.

Caveat: Before we go any further, I should mention for anyone new, American Vampire is a currently-running comic book series which is “suggested for mature readers.” That means there is nudity, sex, and graphic violence. Just FYI.


I first heard about AmVamp in Spring 2010, when I was finishing up my series of reviews of vampire novels, both classic and modern. I found it somewhat randomly; I was researching something else related to the books I was reading and saw that Stephen King was involved with a new comic book about vampires. I had just re-read and loved Salem's Lot, so I decided to check it out.

If big name authors aren't your cup of tea, consider this: AmVamp is a creator-owned property; writer Scott Snyder and artist Rafael Albuquerque are listed as co-creators on each issue. Snyder has done all of the writing since Issue #6, and Albuquerque is responsible for almost all of the art.

So I went to the store to flip through the first issue. I discovered that it had two storylines, one by King, set in the 1880's, and one by Snyder, set in the 1920's. And then I saw this panel:

and was so amused that I knew I had to read this book. Yes, that's a traditional European Nosferatu-looking fellow being quite unhappy that his business has brought him to the American West.

One of the best parts of the series is the different periods. Vampires are immortal, more or less, right? So why not explore them in different time periods? Why always write about vampires now? Why not have vampires in the Old West, in the Golden Age of Hollywood, in the New Deal Era, in WWII? (And that's just some of the storylines so far!)

Here's a bit more for you. In AmVamp, there are many breeds of vampires. The fellow above is a classic European variety, but in the course of the early story a new breed is created. A modern sort of vampire.

 This is Skinner Sweet, the first American Vampire. He was, shall we say, a bit ornery even beforehand.

So becoming a vampire wasn't too much of a change for him.

This is the other main protagonist, Pearl Jones. She moved to Hollywood to try to make it in the pictures and got a bit more than she bargained for. Of course, so did the people who tried to take advantage of her.

And yes, as you can see, the art is amazing.

Intrigued enough yet? The first three graphic novels are available now:

American Vampire Vol. 1 (Issues 1-5, double size issues)
American Vampire Vol. 2 (Issues 6-11)
American Vampire Vol. 3 (Issues 12-18, AND the Survival of the Fittest additional mini-series Issues 1-5)

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