Vampires have been the subject of media as far back as the publication of John William Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Their is lore subject to variation and change over the years to create the vampiric entities that have cemented themselves as part of our popular culture.
This history has not deterred creators to attempt to reinvent the mythology to effectively devise a new distinct type of fear from these classic staples of horror history. For example, Guillermo del Toro’s and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain achieved commercial success and popularity – proving audiences’ readiness to embrace reinterpretations of the iconic creatures. Consequently, Vampire State Building embraces its own unique take on the genre and looks bloody wonderous while doing it.
What is it?
Vampire State Building is a 2019 horror graphic novel from the pens of French writers Ange (Anne and Gerard Guéro) and Patrick Renault, which contains illustration provided by Charlie Adlard, co-creator and artist of the legendary The Walking Dead comics. The graphic novel was published by Ablaze Publishing and Diamond Books. It was released as a full volume including all four issues alongside cover artwork and character designs.
The comic follows Terry Fisher, a young soldier soon to be deployed to Afghanistan on active military duty. Before leaving, his friends decide to throw a going away party at the Empire State Building. However, without warning, the building is swarmed by a legion of vampires who massacre the numerous occupants ruthlessly. It is now up to Terry to take charge and escape with his friends before succumbing to these rampaging creatures.
Vampire State Building’s story is quick to introduce the carnage, launching into the action after a dozen or so pages – continuing at a breakneck pace until its climatic finale. Thankfully, the short mini-series does not affect the narrative quality – the work never feels rushed with a naturally kinetic action bolstering story progression.
Visually, Charlie Adlard’s artwork conjures up a tense and desperate atmosphere. Highlighting gritty, earthy colours contrasted by the bright crimson from the aftermath of violence, the artwork is especially pronounced. Unsurprisingly, given Adlard’s previous work, the aesthetic is reminiscent of The Walking Dead with minute attention to detail and amazing use of lighting to incisively contour scenes.
This newly released volume is the definitive way to enjoy this graphic novel, in my opinion, versus tracking down single issues – it is the complete version for any collector.
Caution! Spoilers Ahead
Finally, the vampires having links to Native American culture is an intriguing angle from the lore. They act less like parasitic entities and more like an organized cult, working as individuals but loyal to a single cause. Additionally, how people become and transition into vampire undergoes significant changes – death at the hands of these creatures is enough to ensure transformation.
What Didn’t work
I couldn’t help but notice a very meta reference to The Walking Dead that was very cheesy and should have been omitted, in my opinion. It is an obnoxious distraction as needless indulgence.
Being a mini-series, Vampire State Building has a heavy emphasis on its action-packed story, leaving characters feeling somewhat lacking in depth. They have their basic character outlines to differentiate between themselves, but it hardly goes any further in depth. Consequently, it was difficult to care about their fate and feel any attachment. Conversely, the non-stop action easily compensates for this minor flaw as action entertainment over character development.
Where Can I Get It?
Vampire State Building is available to order on Amazon, as well as anywhere specialist comics are sold.
Vampire State Building is a fun, if not short, graphic novel, full of brutal depictions of violence flooding the pages to build into a glorious climax. Certainly, lovers of action horror graphic novels will get a kick out of this page turner. Unfortunately, fans of traditional vampire lore may not revel in the changes made to the identity of vampires – their stubborn loss absolutely.
The high velocity story completely engrossed me up until the last page – a highly enjoyable experience paced well from start to finish. Fans of The Walking Dead, The Strain and other similar titles will certainly appreciate this unique gem.