American Vampire is a comic interested in elaborating on its title. What is the American vampire? So far, each issue is comprised of two sixteen page tales. The first, written by series creator Scott Snyder, follows Pearl as she gets a vampiric surprise in 1920’s Hollywood. The second, written by Stephen King, explores the origin of Skinner Sweet in the late 19th century, the first American vampire.
Both tales are masterfully rendered by Rafael Albuquerque. Albuquerque is still a comics newcomer, but I’m sure he’ll have quite the following after his run on this series ends. His art isn’t what you’d expect on this kind of series. You’ll usually find a darker, sketchier style with this type of horror. However, Albuquerque finds just the right blend of terror, humanism, and clarity that provides startling images throughout, while properly servicing the narrative. Albuquerque tells both stories brilliantly, giving each tale its own individual style. He’s heavily aided in this achievement by colorist Dave McCaig. McCaig gives Pearl’s story a brighter, Hollywood aesthetic, while keeping Skinner’s brutal Western world appropriately darker.
American Vampire is a comic that loves vampires, which Snyder’s story especially proves. Snyder creatively ties the Victorian vampires of old with the newer, American made version that Stephen King himself helped create. We learn about this new breed of vampires along with Pearl, which makes the story far more interesting.
King’s tale continues to tell Skinner Sweet’s Peckinpah flavored origin set in the Old West. Stephen King uses far more exposition in this issue than in the previous one. While the first issue successfully felt episodic, this one felt more like a setup for things to come. However, King’s style still keeps things lively, and Skinner Sweet looks like ever more the badass.
So, ultimately, American Vampire continues the impressive momentum it started with. Snyder seems to be providing quite the intriguing premise, while keeping things immensely entertaining along the way, especially with the master of horror backing him up. And, of course, Albuquerque makes it all look beautifully bloody. If the series keeps this up, it looks to be one of the best new books of the 2010.