The March 17th release date for Issue #1 of American Vampire from writers Scott Snyder and Stephen King and artist Rafael Albuquerque is only a few days away, and now a trailer for the comic is available. In addition, both Snyder and King have given recent interviews in which they promise they’re making vampires scary again.
First, though, here’s a summary of what American Vampire is all about: American Vampire will introduce readers to a new breed of vampire – a more muscular and vicious species of vampire with distinctly American characteristics. The series’ first story arc, to be told over the course of five issues, will feature two different stories, one written by Snyder, the other by King.
Snyder’s storyline is one of decadence and deception and Jazz Age glamour. Pearl is an ambitious modern woman with starlet dreams. She frequents Hollywood’s speakeasies and dance-halls searching for her first big break, only to find something far more sinister waiting for her.
King’s story provides the origin of the very first American vampire: Skinner Sweet, a bank robbing, murdering cowboy of the 1880s. Skinner is stronger and faster than previous vampires; he has rattlesnake fangs and is powered by … the sun? Following the conclusion of the first story arc, Snyder and Albuquerque will trace Skinner’s bloodline through various decades of American history.
American Vampire – Trailer
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Snyder, who created the series, recently spoke with The Faster Times, whom he told how he first came up with the idea, “I came up with it a few years ago in the most mundane way. I was in a hobby shop in the West Village, and I was looking at the statuettes and figurines for a present for my friend who’s a big Dr. Who fan. And there was this statue of an undead Confederate soldier, and I started thinking how I’m a big vampire fan. And other than certain films like Near Dark, which is my favorite vampire movie of all time, there haven’t been things that explored vampires in settings that aren’t gloomy, rainy, gargoyle, urban, and nocturnal.
The aesthetic of everything, from Underworld, Twilight, Blade, it always has that same greenlit leather-and-velvet thing going on. I thought it would be fun to see vampires with a different character to them, something more animalistic and feral. Not so sophisticated and snobby. They’re always in the same kind of settings, speak with that same aristocratic flair. I wanted something more down-and-dirty, more American.”
As for how King ended up writing five issues of the series, Snyder said, “Originally he was only going to do a couple of issues. I gave him the original Western proposal for Skinner, which Vertigo didn’t want to start with, and asked if he wanted to pick a couple of moments to write. I knew he had (the novel) Under the Dome coming out, he was working on a musical on the West Coast, and I couldn’t imagine he’d have a lot of time for this. I wanted to make it as easy as possible so I gave him a very clear, almost a paint-by-numbers couple of short issues with Skinner. The majority of it was already written, but there was no dialogue. Just general outline, almost like page breakdowns. Then a couple of weeks in, he was going to do two sixteen-page issues, and he was going to cut them up so there was a teaser at the end of each issue. And he emailed me a couple of weeks after he started. He said he was having fun and wanted to know if he could go off the res a little bit. I was like, ‘Sure, do whatever you want.’
The next thing I got was a third issue with a cliff-hanger. And then he wrote a fourth issue, then a fifth issue. And he wound up doing five full sixteen-page issues about Skinner and his relationship with his adversary, a Pinkerton who caught him when he was alive. And it was just so good. I mean the series as a whole, not just his part of it, is exponentially better for his involvement. I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Definitely hit the link for the full interview, but for us the real highlight is Snyder saying, “Twilight is appealing because it re-imagines vampires, but they’re not scary. True Blood does that, too — re-imagining them as this under-class — but again, they’re not really scary. They’re always like, ‘Sook-ay, you’re so purty.’ And the whole Bill versus Erik thing — that sort of romantic sex symbol pinup direction… I’m just not into that.
So part of the point of American Vampire is to make (vampires) scary again. In the original ads for the series, we wanted to do pictures of Skinner standing on a heap of dead old-fashioned vampire bodies, grinning, all bloody with smoking guns in his hands. And the tagline was ‘I don’t fucking sparkle.’ We thought about using another that said: ‘This ain’t your little sister’s vampire.’ The idea was that American Vampire is not a pin-up. When (Skinner) changes into a vampire, he’s fucking scary. You don’t want to kiss him.
American Vampire is meant to be completely badass. It’s not just, well, he can go out in the sun. He looks different, he’s a different breed. He’s got different claws, different fangs, different musculature. He’s vampire 2.0 in some ways, compared to the European vampires he’s facing off with. In terms of the evolutionary tree, we really are hoping for each cycle to get deeper into that.”
With regard to King, he recently chatted with The Daily Beast and echoed Snyder’s sentiments: “There’s been a whole spate of vampire stories where the vampires are kind of like boy toys, and they’re kind of beautiful, and you want to kind of pet them and take them home with you. This guy [Skinner] was a real, undomesticated animal, and I liked that.”
Thanks to Lilja’s Library for pointing us in the direction of the interviews.
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