Make Mine An American Vampire.
Because the response was not as high as I would of thought for my review for American Vampire #1, I only reviewed that issue and the review can be read ( HERE). The review I believe is a fair break down of the narrative style of the book, so the other 4 issues would likely have read the same with less pictures to them.
This review will focus more of the overall package of the American Vampire Hardcover collection. American Vampire is a are breed of book for Vertigo. It is the only one of its peers to have a $4 USD cover price and even when Stephen King left after issue number 5, the cover price was still $4 with less pages. It is also the only series of Vertigo's ongoing series to get a reprint a month after the first arc is finished and alongside getting the rush reprint, it is hardcover to boot. Outside of the Deluxe books, only Sandman has been collected in Hardcover and Swamp Thing is in transition into Hardcover reprints. Unproven at the time, but because of the hype behind the book, Vertigo took a bold leap with this series.
A bold leap indeed. Like many people excite to read Original Stephen King, I purchased the first five issues and then loved it so much I had to get the trade as well. I was hesitant on keeping this as a "pull" and in honestly.... because it doesn't need my support and Vertigo has upset me a lot this year, I have passed on issue 6. I don't regret dropping this book because the Hardcover is very nice. The Hardcover maybe my preferred method to read this series.
Without the dusk-jacket the hardcover is ugly. A black book with the lettering stamped in, nothing special. I would of at least liked the lettering to have a blood red finish, glossy over metallic. The Jacket is nice, the cover is the same image used for the first issue, but slightly different tones of red, while the back cover and spine almost look like a blood stained leather bond book which would be common in Skinner Sweet's time. The inside of the hardcover is lined with a nice plain blood red, it is a very nice clean surface to get signed/sketched for any lucky readers who would have that luxury.
The Book itself is broken into 6 sections: King's intro, the comic story, Snyder's afterword, Variant Covers, script to comic example section and sketch/prelim art work by Albuquerque.
King's Intro and Snyder's afterword was helpful because it is further incite into the stories the two men were weaving. The Comic story was untouched, they kept it the way it was published, and not half Snyder then half King. The script section was nice. I love comics and if you are like me and enjoy seeing the art form for what it is, script sections are enjoyable, the only complaint I had with this one it was too short. The sketch and prelim art work section is mostly reprints of stuff that was available online while Vertigo was hyping the book. There is a few new pages to me, but maybe I missed them. A lot of it was already free online, so as nice as it is on print, there could of been something held back for this book exclusively.
A pet-peeve I had with the "hyping" of this book, Vertigo was claiming it was the first original Stephen King comic stories. This is a lie. The three pages he did for Marvel's Heroes For Hope [My review for it is HERE] was his first original comic stories. Yes it was a jam session book and he scripted the pages around a theme and story, but it was original. I am not sure how much more input he had in this series, I was shocked that a fairly unknown comic writer at the time could land such a creator-owned book like this. Maybe Snyder gave King more freedom to do whatever he wanted to do with Skinner Sweet. The back history of Sweet, if King came up with it all his own, Snyder is a lucky man. If Snyder had the rough back story and King went to work on it, then its the exact same deal as Heroes for Hope, so this would not be his first original work. In King's intro I am left to believe it is like Heroes for Hope, he was given details and then adds "Bells and Whistles..."
The Variant Cover gallery was one of the major selling points for me. I enjoy when the gallery doesn't have the banners and the comic information on it, it is just the naked picture. These variants became harder to get the later the issue. Issue number 1 and 2 sold fairly well, while it seemed by issue three most people already decided to trade wait since the hardcover was announced by then. I couldn't get the variants I wanted because of budgets or availability. All 5 cover artists I have a great level of respect for. Jim Lee maybe the least. As great of an artist he is, it bothered me that he would do variants for this and Ex Machina #50, as well as interior for a single page of Ex Machina #40, but he wouldn't do work to help the lower selling series in his own Wildstorm. Wildstorm being his imprint, he created it. Besides the fact I see him as a bad father to Wildstorm, I do respect his art. Bernie Wrightson makes a lot of sense contributing a cover, he is a king of Horror comics. Bernie Wrightson would be one of the immortalized artist for Swamp Thing and Swamp Thing would be the character that Vertigo founded its "Roots" from. Andy Kubert would create the third cover, which is the most "Superhero" cover of all 5 variants. What I mean by this is that the Kubert brothers come from strong pedigree, but unlike their father, the two brothers would become staples for creating Superheroes. A place like Marvel (The company they made a name for themselves) they would get many chances to draw explosions and muscled men. Skinner Sweet in this cover is Superhero worthy. I am glad Andy stayed with DC, I think he is a better artist then his brother Adam. J.H. Williams III is one of the hottest artist after Batwoman in Detective Comics. His wide skill range and his ability to create great psychedelic visuals, JHW3 can create works of Art no one else in comics can do. I've been a big fan of his since Alan Moore's Promethea and his art has not let me down since. The last cover is by Paul Pope, in honesty most people reading this review do not know who he is, or recognized the name, which is a shame. Paul Pope is one of those rare "graphic novel writers" that has a vision no one else does. Influence by anime and the fact he worked for a Japanese company for many years, Paul Pope's style I can best describe as "imagery drawn with the manic energy of a borderline madman, with the penmanship of that rivals a master at calligraphy." If you are in a comic shop give one of his books a flip to see what I mean. Suggestions 100%, Heavy Liquid and Batman year 100.
The covers with the banner and comic information can be seen on comicvine's American Vampire section. I will not give you the link, because I think you should check out the book and see the naked pictures without the pollution of the banners.
I liked the Hardcover format and will continue to read the series this way, if all the Hardcovers have these features then the price of the book is very fair factoring in $4 X 5 = $20. The cover Price is $25, so for $5 more there is a whole lot more. Plus it came out so fast, it is like trade reading anyway.
Vampires are a hot trend, but the clarity of focus Scott Snyder has, this book is well worth the money and I look forward to Book 2 when it comes out.