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Mel’s Muses: Library Comic Picks: American Vampire Vol. 1 and Wednesday Comics

Here are a couple of hardcover graphic novels that I didn’t expect to find in our public libraries. Vertigo’s acclaimed American Vampire is fantastic (yes, I was going for fang-tatsic but I stopped myself) but I kinda figured this ‘Mature Readers’ title might be a little too …er… mature. And DC’s Wednesday Comics, geez, have you guys seen the size of this baby? It’s huge, I had to hand-carry it instead of stuffing it in my backpack.

Anyway, I’m not complaining, they are both wonderful picks and not to be missed.

American Vampire Vol. 1. Yes, this is how a vampire story should be. No sparkling poster boys with fangs or love struck Goth chicks, just a bunch of mean bloodthirsty vampires biting and slashing their way in a damn good horror story. And it’s no surprise really as we got the one and only Stephen King and rising star Scott Snyder (Detective Comics) sharing the writing honors here.

The two intertwined tales tell the story of a new species of vampire that evolved during the late 19th century in the American Wild West and carries on to 1920s Hollywood. A cold-blooded bank robber Skinner Sweet finds himself bitten by a European aristocrat vampire back in 1880. As the first vampire ‘conceived’ in
America, the undead but still psychopath Sweet gains some new non-traditional vampiric powers and becomes a much sought after creature by the older European vampires.

The other story is that of Pearl Jones, a young struggling actress chasing the American Dream in 1920s Los Angeles. That dream goes horribly wrong when she finds herself in the same room as the European vampires from 1880. But her story doesn’t end there as Jones, with a little help from Sweet, becomes the next American vampire and embarks on a bloody trail of revenge.

In American Vampire, you got a good solid cast of characters and a refreshing storyline. Although there were a couple of minor cliché elements like how a human would prove his or her love to a vampire by willingly letting said vampire suck his or her blood. Arrggh, enough of that already!

As for the art, Rafael Albuquerque delivered some seriously amazing work here. The art is colorful and vibrant yet dark and sinister at just the right places. An undead half-naked Pearl Jones stumbling out of the desert, a murderous Skinner Sweet emerging from his underwater grave, all bloody masterpieces.

This is really a great title and there’s no excuse not to pick it up when you see it in our public library. Now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed to see if volume 2 makes it to our shelves here.

Wednesday Comics. When something is this big, there are obviously some high expectations. So did this 11 x 17-inch tabloid-size hardcover deliver? Well, it did in most places but fell just a little short in some.

Alright, first a little background on Wednesday Comics. Printed on newspaper broadsheets, it’s a collection of 17 short stories starring familiar DC heroes by some of the biggest names in comics today. It originally ran for 12 consecutive Wednesdays with just one of each strip per issue. A nice idea after the success of DC’s other weekly series 52.

Best thing about Wednesday Comics is the art. Every story was picture perfect, with names like Joe Kubert, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Kyle Baker and Michael Allred doing the honors. It’s just gorgeous from start to end. I guess size does matter when it comes to art.

Now because of its one-page storytelling format, not every story came out as well as it was intended when reading them from a collection. The pacing is different and also the plots are similar to what you would expect in the characters’ other comic book appearances. None of the stories really knocked me out of my
beanbag as much as the amazing art. Well, it’s not that bad. A handful of them do stand out, like the Kuberts’ Sgt Rock and Kurk Busiek’s Green Lantern.

So at the end of the day, is this 500-pound behemoth worth lugging back home? Yup absolutely, it’s a stunning visual feast and I don’t think there’s anything else out there this ambitious or impactful.

Cavalock

Melvin Yong has worked way too long in the media and advertising industry. He now spends his time with his family, writing short horror stories and playing lots of board games.

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