By Alex de Campi and Erica Henderson
This was by far one of the strangest, oddest, most mind-bending graphic novels I’ve ever read. But strange and odd doesn’t mean it was bad. And even if there were bad parts, strange and odd doesn’t qualify as bad all the way through.
First thing I need to point out, these two creators had no intention of going mainstream or realistic with their art, or even the story for that matter. When you get this graphic novel, you will see that in the back there is a section where the creators themselves write about their influences, their process, inspiration and what they hoped to achieve. And certainly, have a love for doing it while they work on it. So, when you get this definitely read the back too. It’s not so often that we get real insight like this and what seems like almost one on one time with the creators themselves.
This all being the case, the first thing I would love to point out is that these two artists created a Dracula that isn’t the typical debonaire suave master Romeo of love and darkness, stealing women’s hearts and lives in the middle of the night. There one minute, gone the next.
But Dracula does have many brides. (Why any man would want more than one wife at a time is beyond me. Twice the attitude, the nagging, the fights, the trying to keep up to keep them both happy and ironically, less sex. Dracula has been marrying and replacing brides for probably centuries. But times, they are a-changin’.
This brings us to Vienna, 1889. Dracula is in deep trouble and has apparently pissed off his brides to a point of no return. They get him in his coffin and nail him to the bottom of it. Now, he can never get out to feed and will surely die. Problem solved.
Fast forward to Los Angeles, 1974. We meet an aging Hollywood actress who is trying to figure out a way to not only make her final mark on Hollywood, but make that mark indelible so that people will always remember her.
At the same time, washed up freelance crime scene photographer (kind of like a crime scene paparazzo) is trying to keep his career from completely going up in flames.
And Dracula’s brides are still around, just hanging about and holding a grudge.
So, you can only imagine what happens when all these lives cross wires and misfire. And badly.
And that, my good friends, is where I am going to stop because, as usual, I don’t want to spoil things for you.
What I will tell you is this…
This is a very abstract graphic novel. The way it is put together the story is somewhat spacious and seems to have missing pieces. This is obviously on purpose. The creators of this graphic novel did not even remotely try to make this realistic. They even address it in the author’s blog bit in the back of the book. They know, as so many comic book makers and lovers, how difficult it is to get a coherent story across in such a short amount of space, forced into panels stacked on top of each other. So, these creators took the liberty of going their own way with not only the story but also the structure and format. De Campi and Henderson take the typical stereotype of Dracula and send it to a whole new level by putting it through a kind of kaleidoscope lens with a Picasso spin.
Though this graphic novel will not appeal to everyone, the unique art style and unique writing style as a combination will certainly appeal to some, while either individually will also appeal to others. To appreciate the artwork, you have to be able to look at it with an open mind and be able to have some sort of appreciation for the abstract and uncommon.
While personally, this graphic novel didn’t blow my hair back, I can still see that there are definitely things that many others might very well appreciate and enjoy.