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Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Tales of the Vampires

Writers: Joss Whedon, Jane Espenson, Brett Matthews, Sam Loeb, Drew Goddard, Ben Edlund
Artists: Scott Morse, Jeff Parker, Vatchie Mavlian, Cameron Stewart, Tim Sale, Paul Lee, Sean Philips, Ben Stenbeck, Cliff Richards
Pencils: Alex Sanchez, J. Alexander, Ben Edlund
Colours: Michelle Madsen, Chip Zdarsky, David Nestelle
Inks: Derek Fridolfs
Letters: Annie Parkhouse, Richard Starkings, Comicraft
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Note: Credits are shown as listed in the book.  Some people describe themselves as artists, some describe themselves as pencillers, hence the variety of titles.
This book is made up of ten different stories.  Each story has one writer and an art team, i.e., there are not three different writers for one story and three different pencillers, although some artists and writers worked on more than one story.

What's it about?
Vampires, and vampires are scary. They are more powerful than us, more violent than us and more singleminded than us.  They can kill us slowly and painfully or quickly and stealthily.  Vampires are scary.  These ones are no different.

This book showcases twelve vampire stories from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe.  Unlike the TV show, or the film, or the other comics, it is darker and far more serious than expected.  The vampires are monsters and (most of the time) they are not romanticised or excused from their actions.  This makes the book far more chilling than the TV show ever was.

There's a vampire as father, vampire as cattle rancher, vampire in Victorian London, vampire as pack creatures, vampires with religion complexes and more.  These are stories that put the vampire front and centre, telling their tale, from their perspective.

What's good about it?
With a variety of different authors and artists involved some stories are very strong and very powerful.  On the whole the range of differing styles works, and like Tales of the Slayers, it assists with separating out the stories and creating different moods and themes for each.

For people who aren't fans of the Buffy universe this book is probably more accessible than Tales of the Slayers.  Only three tales directly use characters from the TV show, the rest are completely standalone and do not rely on any prior knowledge.  The stories are tied together by one overarching story, which also works as a tale in it's own right.  While this main story builds up the tension nicely it acts as a great counterfoil to the more immediate delivery methods of the collected stories.

Last and probably most importantly of all, these vampires are creepy.  Some are portrayed sympathetically but most are framed as unknown terrors from the night.  They might not scare many adults but they'd sure give a fright to some young adult readers.

What's bad about it?
If you aren't a fan of the Buffy TV show you may not get much out of the Angel story.  However, the collection also includes a Spike and Drusilla story, and a Dracula story, both of which work effectively as standalone stories.

As ever in collected editions, the variety of art styles may annoy some readers.

What's the art like?
With twelve different art teams it's impossible to describe the art in one or two sentences.  Instead, take a look at these samples and see what you think:


Other information
Price: £11.99
ISBN: 1569717494
Amazon UK has a look inside feature here.  If you enjoyed this book try picking up others by Joss Whedon or stick around for the rest of the Halloween recommendations!

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