Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Halloween Spotlight: Vampire Comics

Last year leading up to Halloween, I did my best to create a resource for people looking for comics featuring their favorite creatures of the night. It was a much bigger project than I anticipated and I only got around to comics featuring werewolves and witches. But I wanted to carry on that project this year and make it a sort of annual tradition for this site. Now here we are taking a look at vampire comics. I thought that it would be appropriate with the 30 Days of Night film coming out this past weekend. Now this list isn't a complete listing of every single vampire comic ever created. It's a resource to point you in the direction of some higher profile titles, most of which I haven't read and can't vouch for, but some that I have and will recommend heartily, or steer you away from. Proceed at your own risk.
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30 Days of Night
The extremely popular indy comic created by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith put IDW Publishing on the map. It takes place in Barrow, Alaska, where for 30 Days and 30 Nights, the sun does not rise. A group of vampires take advantage of that fact and partake in a massacre. Overall, I think that the comic is overrated, but there are some great moments in there and some pretty fantastic art. The title has spawned several sequels, including Dark Days, 30 Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales, and 30 Days of Night: Return To Barrow.
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Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
Dark Horse has been publishing comics based on the cult television show for years, but it's only recently that it's been garnering attention, as show creator Joss Whedon is writing/supervising the book with other popular writers like Brian K. Vaughan (Runaways, Y-the Last Man), picking things up where the show left off for an "eighth season" following the characters in the universe he created. Joss Whedon also recently wrote a tale of a future slayer for Dark Horse named Fray, and has contributed to anthologies that take place in his universe called Tales of the Slayers and Tales of the Vampires. A project similar to the Buffy one is taking place for the spin-off television show featuring the vampire with a soul Angel, and co-written by Whedon, entitled Angel: After the Fall.
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Bite Club
Bite Club is a Vertigo/DC comic that examines vampires in a world where they are a persecuted minority. It has spawned a sequel Bite Club: Vampire Crime Unit.
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Vampirella
Created by Forrest J. Ackerman, Vampirella is an infamously scantily-clad vampiress who initially appeared in Vampirella #1 as a horror story hostess, but quickly made her way to leading character as the title was revamped (no pun intended) with issue #8.
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Impaler
Impaler is a blood-soaked, gory comic that's currently being published by Image Comics. It takes place in New York City where the brutal vampires are terrorizing the citizens. Great art, and really, it is a fun, scary read.
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Dampyr
I highly recommend Dampyr. It's a long-running European saga by Mourizio Colombo that follows a half-human, half-vampire dampyr, who is a real threat to full-fledged creatures of the night. It has fantastic art, courtesy of a few artists, and incorporates a lot of aspects of true vampire and monster folklore into its pretty amazing stories. IDW published about nine volumes of the series in America before pulling the plug on the project due to low sales, but they are definitely worth seeking out.
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Blade
Speaking of half-human, half-vampires, the famous vampire hunter from Marvel Comics who has sustained three films, has had a few incarnations of solo series, none of which have been very good, and has made several appearances across the Marvel universe, most notably in Amazing Spider-Man.
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Morbius, the Living Vampire
Coming toe-to-toe with Blade on several occasions, popular villain/hero Morbius made his debut in 1971 in Amazing Spider-Man #101, and went on to star in his own series in the early 90's, which lasted thirty-two issues.
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Sword of Dracula
A mini-series from Jason Henderson, this military horror comic follows a government unit who try to track down the Prince of Darkness and eradicate him and his kind with wooden bullets and the like.
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Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
A popular series of novels by Laurel K. Hamilton are being translated into comic form, beginning with the first book in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, Guilty Pleasures. Featuring a sassy protagonist, hot vampire guys with their shirts constantly undone, and a world well-aware of the existence of monsters, and the rights that they are entitled to.
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Batman Vampire Trilogy (Elseworlds Volumes)
A trilogy of stories featuring Batman as he confronts Dracula and becomes a vampire himself, this alternate-reality series is pretty popular, though I haven't read a single one. By Doug Moench, Kelley Jones and John Beatty, the books included in this trilogy are Batman and Dracula: Red Rain, Batman: Crimson Mist, and Batman: Bloodstorm.
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Tomb of Dracula
A popular horror series from Marvel, and one that's sustained that popularity in its Essential volume reprints, this book features monsters aplenty including Dracula's daughter Lilith. Marvel's Dracula has made several appearances in other Marvel comics, most notably Uncanny X-Men, where Storm was under his thrall for a time, and where Kitty Pryde warded him off with a Star of David. This book also features the lovely Rachel Van Helsing.
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Athena Voltaire: The Collected Webcomics
Vlad Dracula also has a descendant in the popular webcomic Athena Voltaire, which has been recently collected by Ape Entertainment in all of its glory. In the story The Wrath From the Tomb, Countess Franziska Dorakyura tries to destroy Van Helsing's descendants and followers, whom the aviatrix/adventuress Athena Voltaire strives to protect from the werewolves and various creatures of the night that the Countess throws their way.
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Nightside
This was a four-issue mini-series from Marvel, by horror novelist Robert Weinberg and artist Tom Derenick, featuring Sydney Taine, detective of the occult, in a story where rival monsters plot against one another.
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Greenberg the Vampire
This was the 20th book in Marvel's Graphic Novel line, by JM DeMatteis and Steve Leialoha, featuring a Jewish vampire.
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Preacher
The popular mature reader's comic features an Irish vampire, Cassidy.
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Little Vampire
Creator Joann Sfar has a series of books starring a cute little vampire, including Little Vampire Goes To School and Little Vampire Does Kung-Fu, who later grows up as the protagonist of Vampire Loves from First Second Books. I have read Vampire Loves and was underwhelmed, but it's a nice silly book in this list of dark takes on the undead.
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Peculia and the Groon Grove Vampires
I loved this book by Richard Sala, featuring the odd protagonist Peculia as she takes on vampires in another Gothic masterpiece from the creator.
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Dracula
Richard Sala also illustrates this adaptation of Stoker's Dracula written by Steve Niles.
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Hippolyte's Dracula
Another adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, this book by European artist Hippolyte is pretty faithful and contains some pretty amazing art.
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Blood + Water
This was a fun Vertigo/DC mini-series that came out a few years ago. About a man who's made a vampire to save him from a crippling disease.
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Union Jack
British superhero Union Jack takes on vampires in this Marvel mini-series by Ben Raab, with art by the unconquerable John Cassaday.
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Drain
This is a series currently running from Image Comics about a ninja vampire, by C.B. Cebulski and Sana Takeda.
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Sea of Red
Great premise: vampire pirates. It doesn't deliver. It's pretty damn awful.
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Hipira
By Katsuhiro Otomo of Akira fame, and illustrated by Shinji Kimura, this all-ages book follows a young vampire and his best friend, a fairy named Soul, who live in the vampire city of Saruta.
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Blood Alone
This manga follows the relationship between a young girl vampire and a full-grown human male. Kind of creepy and not very good.
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Until the Full Moon
This is a two-volume manga that follows two male vampires, one of which is half-werewolf and has begun to turn into a woman, instead of a wolf, under the full moon. And his childhood vampire companion, who's kind of a player, is sort of into it... Despite a great premise, it doesn't live up to its potential.
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Vampire Hunter D
There's a manga currently being serialized, based on the hit anime, and there's also an art book: Coffin: The Art of Vampire Hunter D, by Yoshitaka Amano. It contains rare paintings and illustrations, and features an original short story by creator Hideyuki Kikuchi.
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Blood: The Last Vampire 2002
Also hot on the heels of a hit anime, this manga is not an adaptation of the film, but a sequel. It follows a young girl who hunts Chiropterans, vampire-like creatures, and is supposed to be pretty bloody and gory.
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Trinity Blood
This franchise was originally a series of popular novels before it spawned a hit anime and the subsequent manga. It follows the conflict between vampires and the Vatican.
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Vampire Knight
Vampire Knight is a popular shojo manga by Matsuri Hino about a school where there's a day class of humans and a night class of vampires, with two Guardians who try to keep contact between the two classes to a minimum, while keeping the secret of the night class from the human students. It is currently being serialized in Shojo Beat magazine, and collected into volumes by Viz.
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Vampire Game
This 15-volume manga is about a reincarnated vampire and vampire hunter who have a score to settle with one another.
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Lament of the Lamb
A boy and girl learn of their relationship to each other as they suffer from a hereditary illness that will eventually leave them undead.
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Chibi Vampire
This is an ultra-cute romantic comedy about a vampire girl who has an abundance of blood rather than a thirst for it. If she doesn't seek out victims to give blood to, in a reversal of the vampire role, she suffers from severe nosebleeds.
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Vampire Princess Miyu
Narumi Kakinouchi and Toshiki Hirano's Vampire Princess Miyu is an extremely popular series that follows one of the last vampires who hunts down god-demons, or "Shinma," with her demonic pal, Larva.
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Hellsing
Another very popular manga, this series, by Kouta Hirano, follows the Royal Order of Protestant Knights as they fight vampires, ghouls and other creatures of the night. It borrows a mixture of many different vampire portrayals, from Stoker to Anne Rice.

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