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American Vampire Vol. 1

American Vampire #1 - Stephen King, Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque The Twilight craze made me avoid vampire stories like the plague and it took the combination of Scott Snyder and Stephen King to bring me back to the genre. Of course, it didn't hurt that this is a bit of a historical narrative and probably the best example of team writing I've ever seen and that it contains Old West elements to boot. While Snyder weaves the tale of a young woman drawn in by the glamor of Hollywood in the story's present (1925), King fills in the backstory of the baddies that populate and dominate the underworld in Snyder's story by revealing the origins of the man pulling the strings behind events influencing Pearl Jones's descent into nightmare, Skinner Sweet, in the late 19th century. Cross-pollination with the western genre was a long untapped area for creativity and within the past year we now have Cowboys and Aliens and now Cowboys and Vampires. I have to say I like it. The gritty feel of the Old West and the cheapness with which lives are bought and sold is a stark contrast to the silky and refined culture of European vampires - a contrast made evident in the story's dual narrative structure. The denizens of each, the Old World and the New, are different breeds and at war over usual vampire bullshit - the integrity of their bloodlines and honor and all that stuff. But that's ok. I don't really need an explanation that's too intricate. King covers his end by making Skinner Sweet's "birth" as painful as possible so that revenge is a believable enough motive for Sweet's actions over the ensuing fifty years. I also really enjoyed what Snyder did in creating a strong-willed and independent young woman to be protagonist and integral piece to Sweet's intricate war plans and that she rides to the rescue of her beau several times rather than the other way around.

Really couldn't ask for anything better in a vampire yarn. The presentation and writing are top-notch, which you'd only expect from such a fantastic creative duo. I'm a bit bummed that it looks like we'll be leaving the Old West behind with this volume. Don't get me wrong, the Roaring 20s are still an amazing setting for an American vampire tale, but I'll miss the emptiness and loneliness of the western backdrop a bit.

Note to Mr. King, if you're reading: Next Christmas a faithful Constant Reader would like you to write a western. (I know, I know, The Gunslinger is a western with horror elements, and I really, really love it, but it's SO SHORT and by the next volume, we're in the 80s. I'd like to see one written with a cast of characters as long as Under the Dome taking place entirely in the west. No time travel. No aliens. Demons and witchcraft acceptable. Come on, DO IT. We both know you can crank out 800 pages in like three months.