Writer: Andy Winter
Artist: Keith Burns
Publisher: Moonface Press (Blood Psi is solicited in the May issue of Previews.)
London, the present day. The vampire community of the city is in a state of panic as it is revealed that something is hunting their kind. But thirty-something bloodsucker Ruby has even more reason to be upset, as she discovers how closely connected to the killings she actually is.
I'll be honest, modern vampire fiction is one of those sub-genres I have never been able to get into. It always seems to be either gothy Anne Rice wankery, or pretentious urban hipsters... with fangs! So even though I really enjoyed Hero Killers, the most recent of these one shots from Moonface Press, I didn't have high hopes for this one.
I should have had more faith in writer Andy Winter, as it turns out that the vampire stuff is just set dressing for a tale that has a detective story for a plot and a character piece about family and friendship for its substance. Winter ably delivers both; his characters are well-rounded and believable, despite the vampire angle, and the writer largely avoids clichés and stereotypes despite the limited space available to explore the personalities. Similarly, the plot is very cleverly constructed, and it feels like we get through a lot in just under thirty pages, without it ever seeming rushed.
Art comes from Keith Burns, who is somewhat reminiscent of 2000AD's Dom Reardon with his flat blacks and scratchy yet clean linework, a combination that not only captures the dark subject matter, but also gives proceedings a modern look. Burns' figures are occasionally a bit stiff and awkward-looking, particularly in scenes where he's got a bunch of characters together, and the focus is on just a couple; the rest seem to be hanging around waiting for something to do. That said, it's a problem that only crops up once or twice; on the whole the storytelling is excellent throughout, and Burns conveys the drama of pivotal scenes very well.
Vampires really aren't my thing (I like Bram Stoker's original novel, and The Lost Boys movie, and that's about it), so Winter and Burns are facing an uphill struggle with me, but they manage it by turning in a great-looking book that delivers far more than the surface elements suggest. It's an unusual format in today's market, but this series of one-shots has thus far been a creative success, and I'm looking forward to seeing what's next.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!