Nothin' like dating a vampire. (A vampire comic, that is.) At this point, I've definitely read quite a few vampire stories. I'm not sure when I became such a fan, but, as I've said before, I really enjoy seeing how each new writer/author of a vampire story uses the world's vampire mythologies in their own way. What do they keep? What do they discard? What gets rewritten?
What was great about American Vampire #1 was its seduction of me. Ooooh, yes. Two stories in this issue, both to be continued, and although there is a little Vampire Action, it's not the focus. No, the vampire parts are the dark, mysterious underbelly of the story, and this story is teased out, its yet to be fully revealed. In fact, reading this issue reminded me of when I've enjoyed a burlesque number....not too much really gets shown, but hoo-weee! am I interested!!
I'm a huge fan of anything set in the late 1880s/early 1900s. The first story is set in 1925, and the second is in 1880. I loved how the first one opened - very cinematic in the way that there's a voiceover (so-to-speak) narrating one thing, and yet we see pictures of entirely different circumstances than the one being narrated. (Plus, I didn't quite grasp the discrepancy at first. The "reveal" of that difference came later, after i'd been hooked, sucked in--and then I realized I'd been tricked, but not in a negative way.) I've come to really appreciate the skill with which some of these comics pop up with images that make me say, "Oh my God! What happened?!" In this case one girl, seemingly dead, is trying to tell the man who just discovered her body that she's alive - and in the very next frame, we find out she's the voice behind of the narration. It's three days earlier, and within the next few pages I've fallen in love with her character. She's snappy, sassy, a go-getter and a true friend. Cliched? Maybe, but I love her just the same. And just as we begin to learn what may have happened to her - cliffhanger! To be continued! And we're onto story two...
Although there is one cross over character between the stories.....now things are getting really interesting. It's like the burlesque dancer that is this American Vampire just took off one item of clothing, to reveal that she's still covered up underneath. And it's so tantalizing! (I wish I had a male analogy for burlesque, since all the people involved in this comic's creation seem to be dudes, but I've only witnessed women do it. Sorry, but today's male strippers don't hold a candle to the old school art of burlesque. Oh, and not that I've seen that many male strippers. I've witnessed a couple. Just a couple. For science.)
The cross-over character between the stories is a criminal named Skinner, and he's just been caught for bank robbery and a few other things. To make a long story short, we witness his near escape from a train, a shoot out, and (possibly) his beginnings as a vampire. That's the cliffhanger--we know he's going to survive, and look unaged, 40 years later--but that's a long time, so who knows what's coming. I have my suspicions!
The art in this, by Rafael Abuquerque, is fantastic. As is my usual cross to bear (and yours, sorry) I don't have much of an art vernacular. But--and this is going to sound a little silly--this comic book looks exactly how I wanted comic books to look when I was a little girl. My cousin, Ted, would buy a comic book now and then, and I wanted in on the action, too. Reading world balloons was always fun. But there was something about those books he bought back then that didn't work for me. They had too much crammed into the small frames, everything was too busy. My eye never rested on the page, it became work to take it all in. That isn't the case here. From the style of the era being so well captured, to a depiction of vampires in a whole new way - slightly zombie and animalistic in look - I loved every page. The old-timey glamour was mixed with a realness of humanity. This is my cup of tea, and I know how to boil water. (What?)
I'm not abandoning The Sword, but I'm cruelly aware that our time is limited. There is an end in sight. And, well, a girl's gotta have a back up plan, right?
-Nina Stone, 2010