SILVER’s Stephan Franck Picks 13 GREAT VAMPIRE COMICS

Break out the garlic…

Graphic novelist Stephan Franck is back with his third volume of Silver, the popular series about the search for Dracula’s lost treasure. As he did the first two times, he’s going the Kickstarter route with his company Dark Planet Comics.

Here’s the official synopsis: “It’s been over 30 years since Professor Abraham Van Helsing visited Dracula’s castle. Now his descendant, the mysterious vampire hunter Rosalind Van Helsing, is teaming up with a ragtag group of con men for a high stakes heist to rob Europe’s richest vampires.”

The series, which is also available in individual, digital issues, has already gotten raves from the likes of Jim Lee, Tim Sale and Bill Sienkiewicz — no slouches they.

So check out the Kickstarter here. It’s most definitely worth your time.

But to whet your appetite for all things bloody, Franck has picked 13 GREAT VAMPIRE COMICS — with a couple of TV and cartoon characters thrown in for good measure:

By STEPHAN FRANCK

Baltimore, by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, et al (Dark Horse). I love this WWI-era, quasi-Lovecraftian vampire plague story. It has all the charm, earnestness, innocence and mystery that work so perfectly in that world. Those aerial jelly-fish things alone are worth the price of admission. There also needs to be a mention for Dave Stewart’s colors, as they have their own powerful magic, and tie the whole piece together.

American Vampire, by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque and Stephen King (Vertigo). There’s revisionist history, and then there is revisited history. That’s what I love about this series: It’s a way to revisit the American narrative through a different point of view. I absolutely love how the book captures the essence of every time period.

Tomb of Dracula (Marvel). My parents had a book store when I was a kid,  and that’s where I fell in love with comics. Interestingly, different type of comics were positioned in different sections of the store. You had the European BD on one side, the mainstream comics with the kids’ magazines, but then you had a separate section kind of tucked away for the real “dangerous” stuff. That’s where Tomb of Dracula was. And if you ask me, rightly so. That’s what I love about Gene’s Colan’s art — it seemed so mysterious, and yes, dangerous. Like a forbidden fruit. Even as a kid, few books or movies really feel like they “know something you don’t.” That are always on the cusp of revealing some secret truth about the world that will blow your mind. Marv Wolfman, Colan and Tom Palmer’s creation did exactly that for me.

30 Days of Night by Steve Niles, et al (IDW). I was recently reading the Sam Kieth run, and I love it so much. I like its women. They are so badass. So emotional, passionate, and out of f***s to give. That is all.

Blade: Sins of the Father (Marvel). Howard Chaykin first caught my eye when I was a kid visiting America, and his found Dominic Fortune short stories in the back of the Hulk magazine. This was another creator whose work felt “dangerous” to me. Each panel, each character expression, felt like something under high pressure that was about to explode. And of course the pulp of it. Now that I think of it, it’s obvious to me that Silver’s Finnigan in his burglar outfit is highly inspired by Dominic Fortune (as well as Steranko’s Fury spy suit). But anyway, I was super-happy to see Chaykin do Blade. All these years later, it still has all the same qualities I had loved in Fortune. Everything still feels under pressure, and has the same kind of manic energy. It’s going to be a common theme, but here too, his Blade feels DANGEROUS. And I love Marc Guggenheim’s script. It’s full of mystery, and of course, reads like a movie.

Marceline from Adventure Time. I just love how tortured Marceline is, and how she is her own worst enemy. I always say that we, in comics, movies and pop culture in general, are in the business of exploring the deepest and most universal truth in the human condition, and present them in the weirdest way possible. That’s why I think the world of Adventure Time and the characters inside it are a masterpiece.

Turf by Jonathan Ross and Tommy Lee Edwards (Image). I love Edwards’ art in Turf. Actually, let me rephrase, I love Edwards’ art in everything he does. He is one of my favorite storytellers. His storytelling is always super insightful and non-intrusive, and he captures the texture and specificity of his world perfectly. New York’s 1930s vampires come to life in a wonderful way in this book.

Hellboy: Wake the Devil (Dark Horse). Vladimir Giurescu is one of my favorite comics vampires ever. It somehow harkens back to pre-Stoker takes of vampire, steeped in folklore,  mysticism, and tragic romanticism. No one captures the night and its children like Mignola, and the art itself is almost an act of magic.

The Strain, by David Lapham and Mike Huddleston (Dark Horse). I really enjoy this reinvention of the Dracula mythos and this comic is my favorite iteration of The Strain. The storytelling is sharp and direct, and I love the immediacy of the world, combined with the expressionist quality of the art.

Hellsing, by Kouta Hirano (Shonen Gahosha/Dark Horse). I love the almost soap-opera/American anime quality to this. For obvious reasons, I find the chance to follow a female Van Helsing descendant very appealing. It’s always fascinating to me to see how different creators can treat the same subject completely differently. That’s what I learned in my years in storytelling, by the way. There is always another way to tell the story.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In hindsight, I think it’s easy to take for granted the very premise of Buffy, because it’s become such a staple in pop culture these days. But I remember seeing the original movie when it came out, back when a cheerleader who kills vampires was a totally radical idea. That alone would be remarkable but then it became such a rich universe populated with such incredible characters — AND one of the few universes able to pass the storytelling baton across different media. In other words, it’s like the Beatles. It’s THERE.

Dracula by Bram Stoker, illustrated by Becky Cloonan (Harper Design). Not a comic per se, but I obviously love the novel, and Cloonan’s illustrations capture the mystery and romanticism perfectly. Her art has an appealing quality that is very rare.

Vampire Hunter D, by Brandon Easton and Michael Broussard (Stranger Comics). I love this new book from Stranger Comics, based on the Japanese books by Hideyuki Kikuchi and Yoshitaka Amano. The art is gorgeous and the book manages to mix sci-fi and post-apocalyptic vampires in a way that completely comes together.

Check out the Kickstarter for Silver Vol. 3 here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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