Friday, May 13, 2011

American Vampire by Stephen King and Eric Snyder

American Vampire is King's and Snyder's attempt to bring vampires back from the sparkly and brooding individuals that they have become. This graphic novel is the first in a series and follows Skinner Sweet, a Jack of Fables-esque vampire with a love for candy and Pearl Skinner, a young up and coming actress.

1. Snyder and King split up each issue with a story each. How did this affect the story?

I had trouble with the format, I thought that the two authors writing half a story per issue never came together cohesively. Sure, there's an interesting duality with Sweet being evil in one story and semi-evil in another, but I would have preferred a more straightforward story with an already great premise.

2. In the foreword and in interviews, King talks about the current state of vampires. Did American Vampire help de-Twilight vampires in pop culture? How so?

I think it took some steps towards making vampires important in popular culture again. The twist on any vampire story is how they act, the powers they have, and the types of people they are. Compare the psychic vampires from Dan Simmons' Carrion Comfort to Anne Rice's sultry and more traditional vampires.

3. What's the difference between the European and American vampires? What's the significance of each?

The European vampires were almost a way to satirize the state of traditional vampires, making them goofy and pompous. This served a stark contrast to all American badasses like Skinner Sweet.

4. King wrote Skinner Sweet's backstory. Your thoughts on it?

King made a big deal of talking about Sweet's backstory in the foreword, but I didn't think there was anything out of the ordinary that interested me. Maybe some of the elements will come to a head in future volumes?

5. Snyder will take over sole writing credit starting with issue six. What are your thoughts on this and King's appearance on only the first trade?

It feels like a gimmick that Vertigo employed to help get the series off of the ground if King is leaving right after the first trade. This also will likely represent unevenness in storytelling, with Snyder having to refer to material that King wrote.

7. By breaking the "rules" of vampirism like walking in sunlight, did Snyder and King really write a vampire story? Is changing up the traditional rules necessary for a good vampire story?

Yes. As previously mentioned, one of the hallmarks of vampire storytelling is to break some of the rules and make your vampires unique and a continuing threat.

8. Is Pearl's resistance to devouring her lover believable?

I guess so? Pearl was supposed to be the non-evil vampire throughout the story and the authors never make the vampires seem too bloodlust-y in the story, so it's possible that she could resist the temptation of "eating" him.

9. Did American Vampire read like a Stephen King story? How did it compare to 'Salem's Lot?

Didn't get a great answer from the book club. Thoughts?

10. In the foreword, King mentions reading his son's Locke and Key series for a refresher/inspiration. Is there evidence of this in the story?

Not a whole lot. Locke and Key benefits from a small setting with a small cast of characters while American Vampire is more sprawling, so its tough to get a bead on similarities.