Thursday, October 21, 2021

My Pretty Vampire by Katie Skelly

Sometimes there are books you're pretty sure won't really be for you. But they have quotes from people you like (say, Jaime Hernandez and Nate Powell), and the art is interestingly stylish, and it's about sexy vampires, so you think "how could that not be for me?"

And then it turns out you were right.

Such is Kate Skelly's My Pretty Vampire, a stylish retro vampire movie in comics form, full of blood and cartoon boobs and '60s-looking fashion. It's really good at what it does, but, as I suspected, what it does is not something I was all that excited about.

Clover is a vampire, held captive by her brother Marcel (who I thought was also a vampire, but looking back at the book, I can't find a place that shows that explicitly - so leave it as a maybe) and cared for by their housekeeper (?) Elsa. But she wants to be free, so she breaks out one day.

It's not clear what she wants, even to Clover herself. But she does seem to be compelled, in that usual vampire fashion, to kill and drain the blood of basically everyone she meets, which makes the rest of the book pretty repetitive. She's not a metaphor for anything, or particularly conflicted about drinking blood: she just wanders from one place to the next, slaughtering people and then licking blood delicately off her fingers or the corner of her mouth. (She is often half-naked for that part, since it's that kind of story.)

Marcel sends some kind of bounty hunter after her, and that provides a bit of plot. And it all ends in a way that would allow Skelly to tell more stories with these characters, if she wants to.

But it's a book that's mostly about the style and that horror-movie concept of vampires: the eternal, unquenchable thirst, the inherent sexual frisson of it, a few nods to the idea of vampires needing to control themselves and stay hidden. Clover is not a character who will grow or change, and other people are changed by her only by becoming dead. So I liked looking at My Pretty Vampire, but, as I suspected, in the end it really wasn't my kind of thing.

(One subtle thing I did like a lot: Clover clearly has to ask to enter new places, in that old vampire way, but Skelly never underlines that or makes it too obvious.)

But this could easily be your kind of thing: again, it's quite good at what it does, and Skelly has a great loose line and uses stark blocky color to great effect in this book. It is very distinctive and specific and strong - all of those are impressive things.

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