Vampires have always been popular, but these days they’re really popular. We know what work of popular fiction is responsible for this development, so I’ll spare you the background details and get right to the comic.
With Nanny & Hank, writer Mark L. Miller and creator Darren G. Davis seem to be reacting to glossy soap opera stylings of Twilight and True Blood by making a comic not about pretty, star-crossed lovers kept apart by vampirism but about a pair of septuagenarians who become vampires. It’s something we haven’t seen very much of, which is very welcome in a genre that thrives on repeating the successes of earlier works.
Miller’s script is comedic, but not silly even though a comic about elderly vampires could have been a total farce. It’s not laugh-out-loud funny, but doesn’t strive to be. Instead, Miller pays attention to character and writes the titular oldsters as actual characters who are surprisingly spry, not as the caricatures we so often see in sitcoms. Our old folk need to be accessible for the average reader--who is probably not elderly, or if they are elderly don’t want to see their age group reduced to cranky old coots--to identify and want to continue reading after the first issue set-up, and Miller thankfully understands that.
With his exaggerated, often angular art, Steve Babb’s art looks a bit like Chris Bachalo’s renditions in extremis but without the unrelenting kineticism. Most impressive is Babb’s ability at changing mood. On one page we have hyper children wrestling cartoonishly on the floor, while a few pages later we have a scary vampire bursting through a door--the same vampire that’s portrayed as a pathetically surly, sloppy drunk in the book’s first scene. My favorite detail is the way he draws noses. Some are bulbous, some are pointy, but no two are alike. Also, Babb might be the first artist to ever draw old lady cleavage.
People say they’re sick of vampire stories, but I think they’re just sick of the kinds of vampire stories that are all the rage these days. If you’re tired of romance novel vampirism, trade in your longing stares, glistening chests, and muscular embraces for wrinkles and sharp teeth, and see how that suits you.
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