“American Vampire” delivers again this month, and here’s the real beauty of this issue: it’s a perfect jumping on point for those of you who yet to heed the call of this wonderful comic.
The backstory for Skinner Sweet gains a little more depth as Skinner decides to set some paths straight after taking in a performance at an analog of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. This show, collected and presented by Colonel Seldom French, tells the tale of Skinner Sweet’s apprehension by James Book. Watching the show, Sweet figures that French has misrembered some pieces and sets out to right some wrongs. As Sweet takes in the show and Snyder shares Sweet’s thoughts with us, I found myself mad for Sweet.
In a sickeningly satisfying manner, Sweet puts things right, or at least what passes for right in the mind of Skinner Sweet. I’m disturbed by the fact that I find myself cheering Sweet on in his reckoning, but what makes it worse is that I can completely understand his mindset. Snyder’s story is unapologetic, and Skinner wouldn’t have it any other way.
Through it all, we learn a great deal about Skinner Sweet — more, I would say, than we have to this point. That is subjective of course, as what we learn here is more along the lines of Sweet’s thought process with glimmers of history. All the same, this serves as a nice prologue disguised as an interlude. The story occurs in 1919, floating in between 1925 where Snyder first introduces us to Skinner Sweet and 1880 where Stephen King pulled back the curtain on Sweet’s origins.
Zezelj’s art is different from Albuquerque’s and even from Santoluco, but all the same it is haunting, and wonderfully appropriate for this issue. Zezelj uses chiaroscuro in a most extreme manner, reducing figures and backgrounds to deceptively simple geographic shapes, so much so that some panels in this issue feel like collage, actual paper trimmed out and glued down on the background of the page. In other spots the art merges with the page, encouraging a double-take to discern whether the page is having black applied to it or taken away from it. This all plays wonderfully with McCaig’s colors, who punches the hues up a notch in this issue, making Zezelj’s art appear to be more directly the result of extreme stage lighting.
I buy quite a few comics, and I read quite a few more, but no comic has been as consistently entertaining and surprising over the past year as “American Vampire” has been. Snyder has offered up a dark mythology here that continues to reveal more and more about itself each month. This book truly has become the tale of American vampires, and it is a tale that demands to be shared as it celebrates the history of America, from the Wild West to the Roaring Twenties and beyond. There are plenty of stories yet to be told, and now is a good time to grab a seat and start sharing in these stories alongside those of us here at CBR. Please don’t make us say we told you so