What, no one told you? You left your glow-in-the-dark fangs at home? Not to worry, you’ve got the whole rest of the month of May to catch up. At least, according to First Second Books, who has declared this event in the interests of promoting Vampire Awareness and Understanding, so we can work towards a future when Humans and Vampires can coexist in Harmony and Happiness. Or maybe they just want to promote some books. Whatever, vampires are fun.
If you’d like to celebrate with a book, particularly a graphic novel, might I suggest:
Life Sucks, a graphic novel by Jessica Abel (of La Perdida fame), Gabe Soria, and Warren Pleece (Can that really be his name? Really?). It just officially debuted from First Second, and I really enjoyed it.
Meet Dave. He’s a vampire, but he’s not happy about it. His boss Radu at the Last Stop convenience store forcibly “converted” him to create the ultimate employee: loyal to his master, and willing to work nights. But Dave used to be a vegetarian, and his heart really isn’t in this new un-life. It gets weird when he starts crushing on Rosa, a goth girl who thinks vampires are sexy and glamorous - the exact opposite of his reality. But should he tell her? Or should he just give in and make his first kill? And how can he keep his rival Wes - an asshole-surfer vampire - from taking her just to piss Dave off?
If I can put this in cinematic terms, this comic reads like one part Clerks, one part Buffy, with a sprinkling of Lost Boys. The sarcasm and slackerdom of Dave and his friends ring true, and serve to ground the whole vampire issue firmly in a recognizable reality, especially when contrasted with the Anne Rice-style idealized vampire mythology Rosa and her goth friends embrace. Dave’s moral anguish over his vampiric state lends a thoughtful poignancy to the story that nicely counterbalances the humor. I thought the whole idea of Radu and his other vampire-émigré cronies was fascinating, too. These old guys from the old country have come to the States to make a new un-life for themselves as small-business owners, and use their powers to enslave their workforce and create more customers for their side businesses: blood beer, human jerky, and other vampirish consumables. In this world, the vampirism kind of comes off as a metaphor for the mob.
I’d recommend this for anyone who likes the more interpersonal-drama-type comics, and maybe thinks they don’t like vampire stuff. It could win them over. Of course, if you do like vampire stories, especially with equal doses of wit and edginess, I think you’ll love it too.
- Bookshelves of Doom (dang, I’m not the first person to spot the Clerks parallel)
- Antick Musings
- Reading Rants!
- “Life Sucks: Vampires Work the Late Shift.” PW Comics Week
- A Fuse #8 Production