Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Life Sucks

I mentioned at one point or another, I would write reviews of graphic novels from time to time. So, here's the first one.

The story: Dave is the most non-glamorous vampire ever: a "vegetarian" (he drinks expired plasma from a blood bank), he works a dead-end job (pun intended) as the assistant manager at a convenience store, working the graveyard shift six nights a week for his master and boss, Radu. While Dave goes through the motions of "life," he falls in love with a cute, Latina goth girl, Rosa. Things get complicated for Dave when Wes, his "brother" and a rich, white, surfing vampire from Malibu, decides to make a move on Rosa.

Reaction: I could totally relate to Dave and his disdain for his crappy job -- I worked at a 7-11 in college. Hearing him talk about restocking, rotating hot dogs and dealing with customers brought it all back to me in horrific detail. Dave and Jerome, another vampire who works the graveyard shift at the local copy center, also give off a total Clerks vibe, and their banter was a nice comedic touch.

Deep thoughts: I really liked the multicultural casting here -- you have Old World vampires from Eastern Europe, Rosa is a Latina and then there is Dave's best friend and roommate, Carl. But, the best part is, none of these characters play to the expected stereotypes they could so easily gravitate towards. For example, Rosa may be a Latina, but she's chosen to follow her own path as a goth clothing designer, as opposed to going to church, getting married and having babies like her parents want her to.

Artwork: Maybe it's because I've been reading so much manga lately, but I loved reading this in full color. The convenience store lighting is spot on, giving off that awful, looks good-on-no-one halogen lighting; and even though this graphic novel is mostly set at night, there's no loss of color or mood because of it. I also love Warren Pleece's character designs. You can easily read Dave's mood, simply by looking at his face, and all the characters -- from main characters to side characters to those in the background -- are all fully realized in their own ways, with small details showing the care took in crafting them.

The verdict: Highly recommended. Even though I've read plenty of vampire novels and comic books, I really loved the different tact that Jessica Abel and Gabe Soria took in creating the Life Sucks version of Los Angeles, as it is so off the beaten path of what we've come to expect from the "undead" genre. For anyone that likes vampire stories, I'd suggest they check these vamps out as opposed to the more recently popular "sparkly" ones. Life Sucks is available from First Second.

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