Stepping into 1936, Snyder utilizes the change in artist to change the focal characters. Pearl and Henry Preston take the center stage. Rafael Albuquerque takes a break from the art chores of "American Vampire," but Mateus Santolouco steps in and delivers a gritty, nasty story filled with swindlers, double-crossing, deception, and good old American tenacity. Santolouco doesn't try to ape Albuquerque's style, choosing instead to draw this story in a style that is as grim and depressing as the cellar that Hattie Hargrove is locked up in. We've got a preview on CBR that you can partake in.
It's almost as though Santolouco is drawing with the grime from the cellar itself. The story - in both art and word - is less about the shadows that accent the forms in life and much more about the highlights that manage to poke out from the shadows. The shadows, of course, have a way of reclaiming their own, and Snyder leaves us with a cliffhanger to ponder until next year.
Prior to that ending, this provides a peek into the inner fears of Pearl and Henry, of their hesitancy to truly let go of their fears and embrace each other totally. It's a nice vignette, the likes of which only readers of fictional tales can enjoy. Each character has concerns, feelings, and thoughts that they are unable to adequately express to the other. Ironically enough, the feelings are mirrored one to the other. This type of relationship has been examined in sitcoms and after school specials, but in this comic it is a little more poignant, as the commitment to one another is deeper than either can truly imagine. Snyder spins the romance with a vampire concept in such a manner as to investigate the matter from more than one side.
"American Vampire" has been one of the most consistently pleasing titles on my regular reading list. To this point, I attributed it partially to the connection between Snyder and Albuquerque, but Santolouco is able to step in without shaking the quality of this book at all. Likewise, when King left the writing solely in Snyder's hands, the concept was able to remain strong; The story was still compelling, and the characters vivacious, despite their condition. Snyder has done a masterful job of world-building. He creeps into the thoughts of three characters in this issue, and each of those characters gives Snyder the voice to write through, helping to construct the foundation this tale is built on.
While the entire twentieth century is open for Snyder to play these characters against and through, the choices he makes in time and setting allow these characters to grow and breathe. Snyder avoids (what I would imagine is) the obvious temptation of having these characters appear Forrest Gump-like throughout the highlights of history, and puts the American Vampires exactly where and when they need to be to benefit the overall narrative. Since its launch, "American Vampire" has been a critical darling here at CBR, and my compatriots and I tend to agree that this is a book that you really should be reading.