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'American Vampire': By our contributor

Stephen King’s new comic book series

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American Vampire
(Vertigo/DC)

Once again using his superpowers for the forces of good, Stephen King has pitched in to bring attention to a crackling new comic-book series, American Vampire. Conceived by writer Scott Snyder and drawn by Rafael Albuquerque, Vampire contains the first comic-book script King has written that’s not based on his own characters. Yet this tale of Skinner Sweet, a hipster vampire who begins life as an Old West outlaw, is right up King’s alley. Skinner is a surly sadist with a sharp tongue — of the man who turned him in to the law, he says, ”Maybe I’ll see how much of his reward money I can stuff down his throat before he chokes.”

Series creator Snyder is no slouch either. In the same issue, he picks up the Skinner story decades later, as our undead antihero spreads violence during the Roaring ’20s, in a tale set at a Hollywood movie studio. The art by Albuquerque has a skilled respect for shadows and glinting eyes. Eschewing fancy layouts, he lays out the stories frame by frame with a brisk forward momentum.

All in all, a terrific debut, a welcome alternative to superhero comics, and at a time when vampire stories engulf pop culture, this one’s actually fresh and original.