Are you ready to sink your teeth into this week’s edition of “So You Want To Read Comics”; our weekly feature where we focus on a singular topic and then offer up some comic recommendations for newcomers to the hobby. This week, we’re taking a look at perhaps the most famous and popular monster to inhabit our public consciousness: Vampires.
Vampires have long been a mainstay in pop culture, folklore, and entertainment. They first appeared in literature as far back as the 18th century, but have existed in various forms within spoken word mythology and regional beliefs for much longer than that. Vampires, like all timeless monsters, have a flexibility to them that allows for them to be used to key into someone’s uncertainties and anxieties about timeless things like sexuality, desire, religion, class, even xenophobia. Vampires have also been sympathetic characters as well; victims of a repressive society, outcasts, shunned due to look and origin. Regardless of the reasons why, vampires have persisted and there isn’t a medium out there that hasn’t had these bloodsuckers somewhere in it, comics especially.
Here are a couple of vampire comics that will entertain regardless of your familiarity with comic books.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Publisher: Vertigo (DC comics)
A pair of storylines, one set in the old west and the other in the early days of Hollywood glamor, set the stage for American Vampire, before going further into the decades. Primarily focusing on the characters of Pearl Jones and Skinner Sweet, a pair of vampires who have evolved beyond that of the old families of vampires who came before them, this difference inevitably brings everyone into conflict with each other. American Vampire wears its metaphors on its sleeve. As much as this is a story of a new breed of vampires, it’s also a story of a nation forming its own identity, different than those that came before, albeit bloody and violent. While a majority of the creative workload is carried by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque, American Vampire features contributions from some of the biggest names in comics such as: Gail Simone, Greg Rucka, and Jeff Lemire, as well as an early story from Stephen King. So while being entertaining in its own right, American Vampire could very well be a springboard into the wider world of comics if you’d like.
Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer
Writer: Van Jensen
Artist: Dustin Higgins
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
While vampires have the ability and are often used to express a wide range of fears we possess, sometimes it’s just nice to see them get got, the more brutal the better. Stuff like Buffy, From Dusk Till Dawn, Blade, and John Carpenter’s Vampires all have stock in wholesale slaughter of the fanged fiends. That’s where Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer comes in. Basically, this is the story of the titular puppet on a quest of revenge against the vampires that took out Gepetto and it just so happens that he can make a wooden stake appear whenever he lies. It should go without saying, but this is more of a humorous story, but it does show a surprising amount of restraint and does have some poignant moments, so don’t expect a parody. Also, this comic has a bold, expressive and stylized black and white art that is really enjoyable to look at.
So did these quench your thirst? Have some suggestions of your own? Let us know in the comments section below.