Review: ‘American Vampire Anthology’ #1

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Highly recommended to horror fans, “American Vampire Anthology” #1 is a fantastic collection of eight well-crafted stories from some of the best creators in comics today. Each short story is a perfect sample of top-notch storytelling and awe-inspiring artwork. Each tales draws the reader into the dark and violent mythology of the “American Vampire” series.

Written By: Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, Greg Rucka, Jason Aaron, Jeff Lemire, Gail Simone,
Art By: Becky Cloonan, Ray Fawkes, Francesco Francavilla, Tula Latoy, Declan Shalvey, JP Leon, Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon,
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Price: $6.99
Release: June 12, 2013

Creators Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque bring together a must-read list of writers and artists to explore Skinner Sweet’s untold history as the sole-surviving vampire who walked in the daylight. “In The Man Comes Around,” Skinner seeks revenge against a group of tough bikers who bombed his favorite diner. “Lost Colony” sets up the stage for the inevitable war between Native Americans and the bloodsucking settlers. In “Last Night,” a jazz singer recounts her nightmare as she witnessed her nightclub being ravaged by bloodthirsty vampires. In “Essence of Life,” Hattie Hargrove remembers her fall from grace after being seduced by the fame and glamour of Hollywood.

A majority of these tales have something to say about the trials and tribulations of making it in Hollywood. In Becky Cloonan’s “Greed,” Skinner basks in Hollywood Land while stumbling onto a film set. Cloonan balances dark humor and suspense as Skinner deals with stunt work and actors, while looking at the entire film crew as lunch. In “Essence of Life,” Gail Simone brings in such sadness and desperation as Hattie narrates her downward spiral from being in the spotlight. Simone and Cloonan’s depiction of the old Hollywood system stands out as the best in the collection.

One of my favorite tales is “The Producers” by Francesco Francavilla. An unknown actor thinks he can make a name for himself by making a deal with the vampires. Francavilla makes some stylish choices with orange and blue tones. The moody imagery pops out because of Francavilla’s use of crooked angles and extreme close-ups. Readers are in for a special treat with this one.

As the stories continue, each page is filled with unforgettable illustrations. It’s nice to see Rafael step out of the artist’s chair and divulge into the writing once again with his short, “Bleeding Kansas.” While Albuquerque delivers a heart-wrenching tale about maternal instincts and family, artist Ivo Milazzo makes some experimental choices with watercolor effects. Milazzo just uses the silhouettes of vampires to portray the destruction of the town.

Each artist isn’t afraid to shock readers with their depictions of violence. In “Last Night,” Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon capture the blood splatter as the vampires tear through a nightclub. In “Essence of Life,” artist Tula Latoy presents the gory aftermath of being on Hattie’s hit list. In a big panel, Latoy shows you where Hattie places the chopped-off head on the corpse. Ray Fawkes makes great use of white tones in “Canadian Vampire.” Through the white brushes, we get a sense of the isolation from the snow and the eeriness of the woods.

One after another, “American Vampire Anthology” #1 delivers a fast-paced tale with a shocking conclusion. By the time you finish reading this collection, you’re going want to buy each volume of “American Vampire.”

4.5/5 skulls

Reviewed by – Jorge Solis