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‘The Children’s Vampire Hunting Brigade: Volume 1’ – Graphic Novel Review

One of the best parts of being a writer is stumbling upon old tales or alleged supernatural occurrences and asking yourself the question, “What if this really happened?” David Lucarelli did just that when he came across a 1954 incident in Scotland where hundreds of school children descended upon a local cemetery in search of a vampire with iron teeth who they believed killed a couple of local children.  Artist Henry Ponciano joined Mr. Lucarelli in his quest to turn this incident into the trade paperback The Children’s Vampire Hunting Brigade from Creator’s Edge Press.

Gavin and Doug are two fairly typical young and stupid seventeen-year-old boys out for a night of drinking at the local graveyard in Southern Necropolis, Scotland. Thinking they can pull one over on the caretaker, they soon realize that nothing gets past this old codger by the name of Percy. When he catches them, Percy warns them they are in extreme danger.  The kids laugh at him but agree to listen to Percy’s story when he promises not to tell their parents about their late night expedition. Old Percy launches into a tale of horror as he describes the night he and hundreds of other kids took knives and sticks and went in search of the vampire with iron teeth. Only a ‘wee lad of four’ at the time, Percy and another boy were set upon by the above-mentioned vampire, and the very young Percy managed to kill it. Gavin and Doug believe the whole story to be ridiculous until they, too, are set upon by vampires and Percy dies saving them, but not before he gives them a vital clue to help them stop the vampires from overrunning Scotland and possibly the world.

Their journey leads them to one of Percy’s old friends in London, his niece, sacred and supernatural objects, and a few others who know the “truth” about the vampires.  They are challenged like they have never been challenged before, and whether these two have what it takes to survive in the long run I’m sure we’ll discover in future volumes.

The black-and-white art serves the tone of the comic well. It also gives it an old world feel which is appropriate; however, the use of photo-collage two-thirds of the way through doesn’t really work for me. It felt like the artist wanted to make the urban settings more realistic looking than the rest of the comic which begs the questions why he didn’t do it earlier in the book for the cemetery scenes. It interrupted the visual flow of the story, but that could just be me.  Otherwise, I thought the simple paneling was the best choice for a story like this, one rooted in the past but taking place in the present.

The story and action moved very well, and you could easily identify with these two hapless youths looking for adventure in all the wrong places. My only real nitpick is Percy’s age when he first went after the vampires. I simply cannot get my head around a knife-wielding four year old heading out to kill vampires. Even the way he was drawn made him look like he was around eight.  But, since Percy is out of the picture early on, it probably doesn’t matter.

A solid piece of writing and visual storytelling that I believe will take on more depth in future volumes.




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