The rough style of the artwork helps the artist focus your attention on specific things. With the vampires, he usually focuses the reader’s attention on the bloody teeth. The living are usually drawn so their eyes are the focal point. The last two panels on page 19 provide a great example of this. That is unless the human is being killed, then it shifts from terror-stricken eyes to the mouth (39). The rough illustration style does have its downsides. There are many times when there is an action, but we can’t really tell what happened. There is a fair amount on onomatopoeia, but as the words are pretty unique, it doesn’t help to clarify the action. These moments of wondering pulled me out of the story. I did like the layout. I think the black background helped contribute to the dark tone, and meshed well with the colors in the panels. I liked the non-uniform shape of the boxes that give the reader a slightly disjointed feel, while still being delineated well enough that the story is easy to follow. I do find it annoying when the panels overlap in a way that a reader has to spend precious minutes figuring out the order in which he/she should read. Words and text bubbles only extend past the boxes when it’s warranted, and always in a manner that doesn’t confuse the reader. I like how the narrator boxes kept the jagged theme going, but made it obvious that it was narration talking directly to the reader.
The lettering helps to show visually the difference in tone that a person would hear. The leader’s typeface implies that he is old world European. It’s an interesting way to try and approximate an accent in a way that novelists can’t. I liked the amount of dialogue. It felt like it was perfectly in balance. There are probably more than other such graphic novels, as the illustrations aren’t always descriptive enough for us to see minor details (like emotion in the eyes or tension in the hands). I didn’t have a problem with that as the illustrations fit the tone of the book very nicely. I think overly crisp drawings would have robbed the book of the gritty feel, and it might have come off as farcical.
There are some slips into present tense, “Some of the blood-meat try to escape” (38). This doesn’t work because the narrative is talking about things that have happened. Then it slips back into past tense. There are only a few such slips, so it’s minor issue here.
I liked how Eben choses to become one of them to fight them. It is an interesting sacrifice, one that most such books never think of. I do understand that the writer wants to cut the “more of the same” stuff, but It does seem like we miss some good scenes in the 28 or so days that are summarized on pages 35 through 39.
While we have the graphic novel, it was originally written as a comic book series. That leads to some awkward transitions where things are repeated. The most notable is Eben’s death, which happens on both page 82 and 86. I did like how the bleakness of the artwork lifts at such a down moment. It is done so we feel the sweetness of it, but it is still the death scene of the main character. Part of me wanted him to live on as a vampire vampire-killer. I think that would have been a cool character, but I can live with the ending as written. The very end is also a little bit off putting. Are we to assume that Stella wrote the book we are reading? If that’s the case, there is far too much that she wouldn’t know. So that can’t be true. Since it’s not the same book we are reading, it would have been better to have her call her book something other than the title of the book we are reading. Internal nods like that pull the reader out. This isn’t an especially egregious example though, so I can live with it.
Overall, I think it’s a good little tale. It incorporates the mythos from many movies, but does it in a way that doesn’t end up feeling derivative.