Done well and vampires are one of the scariest things ever imagined but these last few years they’ve become the Justin Bieber of horror. They’re the current kings of the pop culture ‘in’ thing and, I must admit, having their brooding looks forced into our psyche on every bus and billboard is starting to feel a bit like taking a crap in reverse.
Gone are the days of widows peaks and trussed up Gary Oldmans. These new vampires are all young, sexy and seductive. They’re almost always misunderstood outsiders who live forever in a rosy blood-tinged bubble and everyone and their mums wants to shag them. I mean seriously, isn’t it time we called bullshit on this whole thing? Having sex with a vampire is necrophilia and shagging a dead body will never, ever be cool.
Okay, I digress but my point is, thank the guy in the sky for Anne Rice.
Anne Rice wrote vampires back when they were scary, before they shimmered like Liberace in Noel Fielding’s mirrorball suit. She gave us the excellent An Interview With The Vampire, a book that neatly displayed the decadence, grandeur and allure of the vampire but contrasted it with raw brutality, the eating of vermin to survive and perhaps most importantly, the impact of immortality on a child who can now never grow up.
For anyone who has never read or seen ‘Interview…’ it primarily follows the journey of Louie, a young and naive guy who is turned in to a vampire by the brilliant and twisted Lestat. These two share a fascinating relationship that at times is more akin to something between lovers than a platonic friendship.
It is when they find a young girl clinging to her dead mother in a plague-filled alley in Paris that the story takes a new turn as the two men save her life by ‘turning’ her too. This child is Claudia and she is possibly the most interesting character in the book which is why this graphic novel focusing on just Claudia’s story makes the revisit of a classic text so intriguing.
Years ago, kids wanted to be Peter Pan who flew and played in his child-like immortality and these days kids wish they could sparkle in the sunlight and ride cuddly werewolves. Claudia however, is not so jubilant in her immortality or her vampirism. In fact, hers is a blunt warning to all those emos who want to be Bella ‘I can’t smile’ Whatsherface from Twilight when they, ironically, grow up.
Claudia emerges from the change like a newborn , keen to learn the ways of vampirism and the joy of the hunt but once the thrill wears off she quickly realises that she will never grow up and will be a little girl in the eyes of the world until the end of time.
Claudia also falls in love and quickly finds herself embroiled in a dangerous three-way love affair, one which makes her come to resent Lestat and want him out of the way. As the years go by Claudia yearns for a family, she yearns to have a full, adult body and she yearns for answers but what she ultimately finds is the wrath of the oldest vampires in the world.
The story is beautiful, sad and compelling but that’s not all, did I mention that this is a freakin’ graphic novel?! Yup, it sure is and it’s a cracker.
‘So what’s the artwork like’, you cry! In a word, stunning.
Witter’s illustration is truly exquisite and her subtle yet sure lines lend themselves perfectly to such a powerfully nuanced tale. Every page is stuffed with panels and every panel is a work of exquisite and detailed art. Rather than a barrage of big splash pages, Witter opts for smaller, more intimate panels that work together perfectly to focus on Claudia’s smaller view of the world. Witter’s style feels incredibly Japanese manga but with a more American lay out that has then been dipped in a cup of English tea to give the aged, sepia tone.
This book is a gorgeous blend of art and fantasy literature and is a great answer to anyone who says graphic novels start and end with Alan Moore. Honestly, this thing is the ultimate gift to anyone who is intrigued by graphic novels but never tried one or who thinks graphic novels can’t be taken seriously. It is stunning and wonderful and heavy and good. The gravitas of their styles compliment each other perfectly and as a writer/artist combo, Rice and Witter are comparable with Gaiman and McKean or Lee and Kirby.
The Bottom Line:
Interview With The Vampire: Claudia’s Story is not just a good tale and it’s not just a beautiful thing to look at, it’s a celebration of stunning story telling mixed with vicious and vibrant visuals. And best of all, it will teach millions of tweens that the best vampires are the ones that suck you dry, not leave you with a sparkly STD. What’s not to love?
Those great guys at Headline Publishing UK have given us 3 copies of Interview With The Vampire: Claudia’s Story to give away to you. To enter all you have to do is follow us on Twitter and Tweet or Retweet this article. That’s it!
N.b. This competition is open worldwide!