There may be bloodsuckers who thrive on sunlight in Vertigo's American Vampire comic, but the series hasn't abandoned the more traditional idea of vampirism.
The "European vampires," who can only go out in the dark and can be killed by wooden stakes, are still around in American Vampire, but the vampire bloodline sometimes mutates and creates new types of vampires. So while the "Euro Vamps" may be in the greatest abundance, new species can emerge.
"The idea is that the Euro Vamps are actually a particular species of vampire that comes about at a certain point in history, in the 1300's in Eastern Europe," explained Scott Snyder, the series creator who launched the title earlier this year with author Stephen King. "Now that we've introduced them and the premise of the story, we'll find out more about their history and why they're the most common type of vampire."
American Vampire's first storyline covered almost 50 years of time, introducing readers to a huge cast of characters designed by series artist Rafael Albuquerque as they meandered through the Old West and 1920's Hollywood. With this week's American Vampire #6, Snyder takes over the series he created, switching the setting to the 1930's in Las Vegas.
As the series heads into its second arc, and Newsarama talked with Snyder and Albuquerque for a series of profiles on the comic's characters, finding out what comes next for the fledgling American Vampire.
Origin: The European vampires control many business entities in America, as evidenced by the Hollywood moguls and bankers revealed in the first five issues of American Vampire. But the origin of their species of vampire is still unknown, as is the reason for their apparent abundance.
"They’ve become the dominant species," Snyder said. "There’s sort of a question as to why there aren’t other vampire types out there so much, and why the Euro Vamps are so populous all over the U.S. and in Western Europe and Eastern Europe. But we'll find out more about that now."
Powers: The European vampires have very familiar powers and weaknesses. Their most obvious strength is their superhuman invulnerability, a power that appears to be shared by all vampires in the American Vampire series.
"When they’re transformed into vampires, it’s almost like the muscles are a kind of armor over them," Snyder explained. "So, they’re very, very hard to kill, but at a certain moment in the solar and lunar cycle, each vampire has a moment of weakness. For European vampires, unfortunately, it’s every day. It’s during the sun. For American vampires, as we learned in the first cycle, it’s during the moonless nights. So, it’s a few nights every month.
"In addition to that, each vampire has a material that causes it a massive and instant infection, that it almost has this allergic reaction to, that can just cut right through its musculature," Snyder said. "For European vampires – or for that one species – it’s wood. It’s different kinds of wood, like pine can cut right through them and cause this almost acidic reaction."
When American vampires Skinner Sweet and Pearl Jones attack, their jaw extends, their fangs become snakelike, they have claws and their venom paralyzes their prey. But that's not the case with the European vampires. "They have small fangs," Snyder said. "They have no lower fangs. They have red eyes, and they have small claws – if any claws at all – and they’re pale."They suck comparatively. Their score card is really poor compared to these newer vampires."
Archenemy: The American vampires, Skinner Sweet and Pearl Jones, who are an evolved species of vampire. American vampires thrive in the sunlight, although they do weaken during moonless nights.
"For American vampires, at the very end of cycle one, we learned their one thing that they are kind of allergic to. I don't know if I should say it now in case anybody hasn’t read Issue #5 yet, but there’s a hint as to what it is," Snyder said. "So, that’s one of the things that all the European vampires and everybody’s sort of clamoring to learn -- what the weakness of the American vampire is, because otherwise, you’ll have to track Skinner down during this one particular moment when he’s weak during a moonless night. But if you knew what it was that was his weakness, you could attack him anytime you see him."
There may be other enemies of the European vampires that readers don't know about yet, and Snyder promises we'll see other species of vampires in the upcoming storyline.
Appearance: "I can't give Rafael enough credit for all the work he did in terms of designing a look for each character," Snyder said. "We wanted the Euro Vamps to be proud of who they are and to have a slightly distinct old-fashioned style."
Albuquerque said the Euro Vamps took their look from established vampire stories. "They were all based in Nosferatu approach," he said. "I wanted really pale, classic, ugly, but fancy-dressed people here," he explained. "Initially i wanted to make them look comical, in a way, but the story ended up going in a different way. I really like Bloch and Vachon designs, specially. I think they have that aristocratic but dangerous kind of approach.
Although the series jumps ahead to the 1930's, the Euro Vamps will continue to look a little out of place in the decade. "They’ll be dressed a little bit more appropriately in terms of the ‘30s, Untouchables kind of style. But they’ll always have a little bit flare. They were quite stylish.
"The younger vampires – the younger European vampires like the two young ones that get killed in issue #3, Lucy and Edgar – they’re a little bit more forward thinking. But they’ll always look a little antiquated," Snyder said.
Snyder said this storyline is when readers will find out more about why this particular species of vampire was able to become the most common type.
"We’re going to explore in this cycle why the Euro vampire is the one we’re all aware of in folklore," he said. "And we'll find out about some of the other ones that were also very prevalent back in the day, that have maybe been reduced in population, but are still out there.
"That’s part of the fun of the next cycle," Snyder said. "You meet a vampire very early on that’s of an older and more rare species."
Some of the European vampires from the first storyline will also return, even thought they may have looked like they were destroyed at the end of the first arc.
"Some will come back – some of the villains," Snyder said. "You know, a lot of them were offed. They didn’t really make it out very well at the end of cycle one. But there’ll be a couple surprises as to who might come back from that crew, as well. And they have a lot of friends."
"This cycle is very much about broadening the mythology," Snyder said. "We'll show you just how far-reaching this series is and the breadth of the bloodline."More AMERICAN VAMPIRE UP-CLOSE: