Sam Quixote's Reviews > American Vampire, Vol. 1

American Vampire, Vol. 1 by Scott Snyder
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's review
Sep 11, 2011

did not like it
Read in September, 2011


Ok it’s my own fault for falling for it –I know vampires are overused in today’s culture, so much so that Amazon have a store called “Amazon Vampire”, but I still went ahead with reading this comic book, thinking that somehow Scott Snyder and Stephen King had pulled off a remarkable fresh version of the vampire story – I hoped, but I was wrong.

Snyder writes about Pearl, a wannabe actress in mid 1920s Hollywoodland working bit parts until one day she’s invited to the party of a big time producer, where she finds out too late that he’s not quite what he appears to be. And we follow her journey thereon out.

King writes about an outlaw called Skinner Sweet who steals from the wrong person (a “euro-vamp”) and winds up dead. And then alive. You see where this is going. Blood and carnage follow.

Sounds promising, no? It’s not. King writes in his introduction “Those vamps got hijacked by a lot of soft focus romance”, talking about the recent explosion in vampire romance stories (think Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, etc) and yet “American Vampire” is just one more example of just such a book. Pearl meets Henry, a friend – or is he? Corny romance ensues, not to mention the obligatory pseudo-erotic scene where Pearl “drinks” from Henry. Is it me or has this become standard practice in modern vampire stories to have one hero vamp drink the blood of a hero human? Jim Book meets his goddaughter Abi who happens to be a twenty something girl in love with him and with a penchant for wearing very revealing outfits. King working the forbidden fruit angle there, which is bad enough but the dialogue is so stale and soppy. “Just promise you’ll send that monster to hell” (simper) or “I’ve lost everyone I love and now I’m supposed to lose you as well?” Yawn.

But the poor dialogue doesn’t stop there. Some memorable quotes include “You will never leave here alive!”, “Jim you don’t know how many times I’ve doubted what I saw that day”, “Been thinking it over the last couple days and it’s not that I didn’t believe you, it’s that I just didn’t care”, and “Yes, go run and hide! We’ll find you! We’re everywhere!”. Throw in the English aristocratic vamp who explains the nefarious plan in full at the end like a well-dressed Blofeld with hair and you got yourself the kind of script that you could catch mice in if you put it on a trap.

This isn’t a “new” version of a vampire story, just another vampire story that you’ve read before but with different costumes - 1920s Hollywood and late 19th century frontier America. Even the parts people will say are new – that Skinner and Pearl can walk in daylight and are unaffected by religious tokens – have been done to death before. And let’s not even begin to point out how long it takes everyone to figure out they’re vampires. It’s so tedious you want to shout at the page just so the story can move on.

And the artwork is nothing to write home about either. Rafael Albuquerque has his moments, creating genuine moments of horror with full page depictions of very warped looking vampires, but in between this are scores of pages full of rough sketching and even worse colouring. Not to mention the lack of imagination – some of the scenes look like campy 80s metal album covers with Sweet topless sat on a throne in a cave surrounded by fiery torches in the dark.

A friend and I are both fans of King but both of us have noticed, as have many others, that King tends to have as his protagonist/narrator a person, usually a man, who is a novelist. Guess who the narrator of King’s portions of the book is? Man, he really isn’t trying anymore is he? I’m beginning to think his blurbs and brief intros are better to read than his slow moving, predictable books.

And unfortunately that also includes this book, "American Vampire". Poor artwork, dull story, even duller characters, utterly unmemorable dialogue that disappears into nothing as you read it, all mixing together to create a totally uninteresting and trying-too-hard-to-be-cool book. Definitely doesn’t live up to the hype, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

yeah this has been a series that hasn't really done it for me either. There are some moments involving Nazis but a lot of the writing and the characters and story haven't really blown me away like it has others.

Anna  (Bananas!) Agree, yuck.

message 3: by Jdsantos (new)

Jdsantos Have you tried to read the other works by Scott Snyder? They are actually pretty good. And isn't the protagonist of every Stephen King book a writer/novelist?

message 4: by Sam (last edited Jan 15, 2014 05:18AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Sam Quixote Yeah, love his Batman stuff, and his other horror work with Scott Tuft "Severed" is awesome.

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