American Vampire is an award-winning series created by Scott Snyder, with an origin story by Stephen King and artwork throughout by Rafael Albuquerque.
The obvious question is: why read another vampire story in a world that already has too many? Of course, any old monster can be interesting again in the right hands, as Stephen King’s early career demonstrates. What makes American Vampire interesting is the concept of class warfare within the vampire world set against periods of American history. The first story arc alternates between Hollywood on the verge of the talking picture and the last days of the wild west, with a new vampire created in each: aspiring actress Pearl Jones and clever criminal Skinner Sweet, respectively.
Skinner Sweet, as the original American vampire, discovers that he has an advantage that the older, European vampires do not: he can walk in the daylight. As the old guard tries to reach a truce with him, they also build wealth in the human world by investing in and influencing projects like the Boulder Dam. Sweet sees them as weak and decadent, like an ambitious gangster that wants to eliminate the old mafiosi. Meanwhile, a few of the humans who understand vampires have created their own elite corps of slayers, and don’t mind working with some vampires in order to eliminate others.
While I’m sure having King’s name on this book didn’t hurt sales, it is Snyder who has developed a compelling series here; and while I don’t always feel that Albuquerque’s artwork is well-served by digital colouring, it does work more often than not. Skinner Sweet is one of those charismatic villains that I perversely root for. If like me you have grown weary of franchises that are past their sell-by date like True Blood, American Vampire is an excellent replacement.