American Vampire is currently a 6-volume series of graphic novels with distinctly American storylines.
Volume 1 also happens to mark Stephen King’s graphic novel debut (2011). The volume goes back and forth between two mostly unrelated stories–one set in the 1880s (written by King) and one set in the 1920s (written by Scott Snyder). They are unified by the violent and garish artwork of Rafael Albuquerque.
King relates the story of America’s original vampire, Skinner Sweet, an outlaw whose anti-social behavior only increases once he gets his fangs and Nosferatu-length talons. Though sidelined a couple of times, you just can’t keep a bad vampire down, especially a daywalker who is powered by the sun and weakens only on moonless nights.
Snyder’s contribution follows a would-be actress during the decline of silent films and the rise of talkies who is betrayed by a movie idol. She too is a daywalker, Skinner’s creation.
Both stories are entirely preoccupied with the uber-vamps taking bloody revenge on the vampires that done them wrong. They are also tied together by a single journalist narrator, who was a young man in the first story, and in his twilight years in the second.
King’s preface alleges a desire to get away from sparkly, romantic, brooding vampires, and reclaim them as predators. But this is a bit disingenuous because the writers have introduced their own innovations with this new breed of vampire.
I guess I’m used to vampires who are comfortable with the “long game,” rather than going on malevolent rampages. The corrupt European vampires are aristocratic, elitist, consumed with material power and success. The American version is brash, vicious and brutal.
American Vampire, Vol. 1 is thoroughly entertaining, with memorable characters and pages (about 200) of delicious dismemberment and blood-sucking horror.