Debra's Reviews > American Vampire, Vol. 1

American Vampire, Vol. 1 by Scott Snyder
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's review
Jul 20, 2011

bookshelves: to-read, sai-king, sai-king-recommends, horror-supernatural

Stephen King introduction. Here it is:

By Stephen King

Here’s what vampires shouldn’t be: pallid detectives who drink Bloody Marys and only work at night; lovelorn southern gentlemen; anorexic teenage girls; boy-toys with big dewy eyes.

What should they be?

Killers, honey. Stone killers who never get enough of that tasty Type-A. Bad boys and girls. Hunters. In other words, Midnight America. Red white and blue, accent on the red. Those vamps got
hijacked by a lot of soft-focus romance. That’s why I was so excited when Scott Snyder—a writer I knew from his excellent book of short stories, Voodoo Heart—mentioned to me in an email that he was in talks with the folks at Vertigo about doing a vampire comic series. His take was unique, his enthusiasm infectious.

His ambition for the continuing story of Skinner Sweet (and his victims) was awesome: nothing more or less than to trace the emergence of America through the immortal eyes of a new kind of vampire, one that can walk in the sun. I saw the potential for some terrific stories, and I also liked the resonance of the thing. There’s a subtext here that whispers powerful messages about boundless
American energy and that energy’s darker side: a grasping stop-at-nothing hunger for money and power.

Scott wanted a blurb.

I asked him if I could write a story, instead. In fact, I wanted to light a blowtorch and burn one in, incise it like a big ole scary tattoo.

I ended up writing the Skinner Sweet origin story, and nobody is happier about that than I am. If you like it, don’t thank me; I wrote it from Scott’s detailed outline, adding bells and whistles here and there but never straying too far from his narrative line. Why f--- with genius?

If you don’t like it, you can blame the fact that I’m new to this kind of storytelling. (Of course, if you don’t like it, why the heck are you even here???) I’ve been a lifelong comics reader—cut my teeth on Plastic Man and Combat Casey—but in the last fifteen years or so, the medium has grown up. I owe great thanks to Mark Doyle, who edits AmVamp. It was Mark who eased me in, sending me
scripts for most excellent comix like Northlanders and Scalped. I learned as much from these as I could (and re-read all of my son Joe Hill’s Locke & Key stories), then listened humbly when I was
instructed on some of the new rules (thought balloons, I discovered, are now passé).

It was Mark and Scott who (with great tact) corrected my layouts when they went wrong. And this, most of all: it was the remarkable Rafael Albuquerque who brought our words and descriptions to vibrant, scary life. I can’t thank him enough. As a guy who can’t even draw stick figures, I am in awe. Seeing those panels grow from rough sketches to finished art has been the most rewarding thing to happen in my creative life for quite some time. I can do story, and I can do dialogue, but the spell Rafa’s art casts adds a whole new dimension to those things.

In the end, though, it’s all about giving back the teeth that the current “sweetie-vamp” craze has, by and large, stolen from the bloodsuckers. It’s about making them scary again. Thanks, you
guys, for letting me be a part of that. Skinner Sweet really sucks, and man, that’s a good thing.

Stephen King
May 8, 2010
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