Cover of American Vampire #1.
|Publication date||March 2010|
|Number of issues||34
9 (ongoing) Second Cycle
Also 12 issues in mini-series, one-shots, and anthologies
|Main character(s)||Pearl Jones
|Writer(s)||Scott Snyder (#1-)
Stephen King (#1-5)
The series imagines vampires as a population made up of many different secret species, and charts moments of vampire evolution and inter-species conflict throughout history. The focus of the series is a new American bloodline of vampires, born in the American West in the late 19th century. The first of this new species is a notorious outlaw named Skinner Sweet, who wakes from death, after being infected, to find he has become a new kind of vampire, something stronger and faster than what came before, impervious to sunlight, with a new set of strengths and weaknesses. The series goes on to track his movements through various decades of American history - along with the movements of his first and only known progeny: Pearl Jones, a young woman working as a struggling actress in the 1920s silent film industry when she is attacked by a coven of European vampires hiding in Hollywood. Sweet saves her (uncharacteristically) by giving her his blood, thereby turning her into an American vampire like him, at which point she seeks revenge on the classic vampires who attacked her in life. The complicated and charged relationship Jones has with Sweet is another focus of the series.
American Vampire has spin off two mini-series. The first, "Survival of the Fittest", illustrated by Sean Murphy focuses on the cases files of the V.M.S., the vampire hunting organization of the series. The second, "Lord of Nightmares", illustrated by Dustin Nguyen further focuses on the mythology presented by Survival of the Fittest. In June 2013, a one shot co-written by Snyder and Albuquerque (who also illustrates the 64-page issue), entitled "Long Road to Hell" which features vampire hunter Travis Kidd, was released.
The series will explore notions of vampire evolution and trace the bloodline of a new kind of vampire, an American species, with new powers and characteristics, through various decades of American history.
The first story arc (issues #1-5) begins in 1925, from the point of view of an aspiring actress in L.A. and of a writer at a book conference due to the reediting of his book Bad Blood. Here, the author claims that his work which has been long considered a fictional western/terror story is actually based on true events which he has either witnessed or has collected reliable information on.
- Big Break
Introduces Pearl Jones an aspiring young actress who is narrating the action as, apparently a freshly murdered corpse. Pearl has been thrown atop a pile of other attractive young starlets in a ditch in the desert outside of Los Angeles. There is a hooded figure with a shovel pushing the bodies into the shallow grave.
Cut to Pearl and her friend Hattie Hargrove, working as extras and chatting about the acting industry and the opportunity to work with an established Hollywood star, "Mr. Hamilton". Later Pearl and Hattie are leaving their house when they encounter Skinner Sweet basking in the sun light. The women fop off Skinner's flirtatious manner and tell him that they will call the police if they find him squatting again. Pearl is shown to be working as cigarette girl in a speak easy where she meets up with Henry who works there as a musician. Later back at the set of the Chase Hamilton film, Mr. Hamilton himself asks Pearl to join him at an industry party, at the home of a Mr. B.D. Bloch.
Back at home Pearl gets ready for an event and Skinner Sweet sits by the pool and gives her a warning about the people she is partying with. The women ignore them and head to the party and the second they arrive they separate and Chase ushers Pearl away from the party and into a private room. There she finds Bloch and expects be introduced as an up-and-coming actress. Instead she finds Bloch with several other men starring at her menacingly. They reveal themselves as vampires and pounce on Pearl.
- Bad Blood
Opens with author Will Bunting retelling the story of the novel he had written. He starts his story with Jim Book in 1880 having just caught the notorious criminal Skinner Sweet after the outlaw had been on a thieving and murdering rampage through the west. They are riding on a train that takes them through the boom town situated around the profitable and dry goldmines that dotted the west. Book has been working for the Pinkerton Agency with Deputy Felix Camino to bring Skinner in for the edification of worried foreign investors. One of the investors is named Percy, a man with a singular allergy to the sun, working under him is a man named Finch who is a middle man facilitating the investments made by Percy and his partners.
In return for a peppermint stick Skinner tells Book about the robbery that led to his capture and of the money that Sweet and his gang took off of Percy. Using the peppermint stick to pick the locks on his chains, Skinner escapes and takes Felix hostage. Unknown to James Book Skinner's gang is waiting outside to ambush the train as it heads into the mountains. As Skinner threatens to kill Camino, his gang springs their trap, blowing the train off the track and give Skinner the chance to escape. Book catches up with Skinner before he can get away, and as the two of them struggle Sweet informs Book that he has poisoned the lawman's wife, Ella Book, with a bottle of poisoned wine.
Book flies into a rage and a gun fight ensues ending with James Book bleeding on the ground. Skinner turns to see Percy challenging him with no gun and Skinner Sweet and his gang gun the man down. However, Percy did not stay dead but rather rose, barred his vampiric fangs and attacked Skinner tearing into his throat. Skinner shoots Percy in the face but not before he lands a fatal blow, however some of Percy's Blood finds its way into Skinner's eyes. Percy walks away a bit worse for wear but unaware that Skinner has been infected with a vampiric strain. James Book, William Blunt, Felix Camino, and Percy all walk away from the wrecked train unaware that Skinner is on the precipice of rising from the dead as the first American vampire.
- Morning Star
Starts back in 1925 with Henry and Hattie finding Pearl missing when they go to check on her. The two of them head out to find her and discover Pearl bloody and wandering in the desert. They take her to the hospital and the doctors inform Hat and Henry she's on the brink of death and covered in animal bites. Later that evening Skinner Sweet comes into Pearl's hospital room, declares his disgust at Bloch and just before Pearl dies he gives her his blood. Pearl wakes up in the morgue disoriented and afraid and flees home where she finds Skinner Sweet. Skinner tells her she is a vampire and that Bloch and his coven are a part of a different and older breed, that Skinner's breed is powered by sunlight, and promptly leaves Pearl to her vengeance. After Skinner leaves Pearl finds that he has left a gift for her in the closet in the form of a tied up Chase Hamilton. Eventually after recalling the details Pearl butchers Hamilton and leaves his drained corpse in his dressing room.
- Deep Water
Back in the 1880s the author Will Bunting continues the story of Skinner Sweet and James Book. We find Skinner Sweet in the ground and James Book in a coma with Felix Camino watching over him. When Book wakes up Felix tells him that Ella, Book's wife, has died from the poison that Skinner sent her. Book promptly finds Skinner's grave and pisses on it, unfortunately Skinner is shown to be not so dead.
Later Percy meets with his coven of European vampires to talk about Skinner Sweet. The vampires believe that Percy might have made a mistake by letting his blood infect Skinner Sweet, since this created a new breed to threaten their supremacy. They plan to eliminate the threat by flooding the town Skinner's buried in, believing he shares their weakness of being unable to rise underwater.
Meanwhile, James Book, Felix Camino, and Will Bunting ride towards Felix's father, as the elder Camino is responsible for Skinner's apprehension and they believe his gang will seek revenge. After visiting his Wife Ella's Grave Book and his crew head to stop Skinner's gang, while Skinner now a vampire dines on rats in his grave. At this point the town where Skinner is buried is flooded, while Book hunts down Skinner's gang, shooting arresting or hanging each and every one of them until he can stomach it no longer.
The years pass and by 1886 Felix is married, has a pregnant wife, and has given up his violent ways...mostly. In 1888 Will Bunting finishes his book "Bad Blood" and gives it to James Book to read, and in 1890 Felix's wife gives birth to Abilena, but dies during the process. Meanwhile, at Skinner's watery grave a couple of ambitious treasure hunters venture down into the deep to find artifacts connected to the famous killer.
- Rough Cut
- Double Exposure
Set in Los Angeles, providing a brief account of the meeting between Hattie and Pearl, and then Hattie's later betrayal of Pearl in the service of the vampiric Old World movie moguls. Hattie appears down on her luck as she rewards Pearl's kindness to her (she ignored a filched donut) with cinema tickets. This BFF motif makes the rest of the action in this section particularly poignant as Pearl is lured out on a moonless night to "rescue" Hattie. In reality, Hattie literally stabs her in the back as part of a deal to make Hattie a starlet. Bloch's intention is to imprison Pearl to discover the vulnerabilities of the American strain. She escapes with the help of her paramour, Henry, who lets her feed on him. As the issue closes, Henry expresses a wish to join Pearl in her battle (he is ex USMC), and stay with her through thick and thin.
- One Drop of Blood
- Devil in the Sand
The second story arc (issues #6-9) follows the chief of police of Las Vegas in 1936. Taking the name Joe Smoke, Skinner Sweet has set himself up as one of the infant city of Las Vegas' up and coming mobsters.
- Ghost War
The third story arc takes place in the 1940s, during World War II. (There is also a mini-series featuring Felicia Book that takes place during this era). Under the orders of The Vassals of the Morning Star, Henry and Skinner battle Nazis to prevent an ancient vampiric threat.
- The Beast in the Cave
Occurs back in the 1800s before Skinner was a criminal and Book became a lawman.
Skinner Sweet and Jim Book are revealed to be adolescent friends living on the Book family farm. Skinner's family has recently been murdered and their livelihood a mint farm has been burned to the ground. The boys develop a friendship and Book recognizes that there’s no one Book feels safer with than Skinner. There's an allusion to the Yankee forces having burned down Skinner's ancestral farm, While the two boys are playing the find a rattle snake burrow and Skinner pulls the snake out bare handed. Later, Young James book returns to the snake's burrow and sets it ablaze. Later, in 1871, Skinner and Book are "Indian fighters" in the US Military, and are part of an attack on a group of Apaches.
The Apaches have come to this particular place because their leader is searching for Mimiteh, goddess of death. The leader is the scar-faced Apache, Hole in the Sky, who believes that Mimiteh is the key to annihilating the white man and returning the plains to the Apache's hands.
Corporal Skinner Sweet believes that the Apache are preparing an ambush, when he and Corporal Book capture a young Apache and Skinner slices off his ears for information, his worries are ambiguously confirmed. Back at the cave Hole in the sky finds Mimiteh. When Hole in the Sky begs Mimiteh to attack the white man she is revealed to be the original American Vampire.
Mimteh tries to reason with Hole in the Sky by telling him how she became a vampire. She tells him about how her French husband Ettienne sold her to two European travelers, whom she leads through the Northern wilderness like Sacajawea. She finds them slaughtering a bear, revealing themselves as vampires. They chase her down and maul her badly. However the Lewis and Clark vampires were unaware that two hunters were tracking them, and right after Mimiteh was bled dry the hunters slaughtered the vampires. Mimiteh survives because of her immunity to wood and her ability to feed on sunlight as an American bred Nosferatu, and she rises and travels home, but Ettienne is long gone so she returns to her tribe.
Mimiteh is overcome by vampiric hunger upon arrival, and slaughters every man, woman, and child in the tribe. Feeling remorse she seals herself into the mountain cave. Unfortunately Hole in the sky ignores Mimiteh's story and attacks her with a hatchet and consumes her blood.
Back at the camp Skinner recognizes the danger and attempts to track down the Apache on his own, planning to catch them off-guard. He ignites the brush around the camp in the hopes of burning them to death. The next morning Lieutenant Hawley finds Skinner missing and takes Book into custody. He charges Book with desertion and demands to know Skinner's' whereabouts. Eventually Book finds himself facing a firing squad, while Hole in the Sky has returned to face his troops and show them his transformation into a powerful, horrific beast. He rallies the troops and they prepare to attack but right before they do Mimiteh returns and attacks.
Right before Hawley can carry out Book's execution Skinner arrives, guns drawn. Skinner walks over confidently and reminds Hawley's men of the danger of the Apache on the mountain. The men hesitate and when they do Hawley draws on Skinner but Skinner is a faster shot. When asked why he’s murdered the Lieutenant, Skinner replies that he’s promoted himself while sucking on a peppermint stick. Skinner leaves book tied to a tree after informing Book of his plan turn the natives, men, women, and children, alive.
Mimiteh blames the Apache for interrupting her solitude and attacks them. When Skinner arrives the Apache have been slaughtered. Book finally breaks free and catches up with Skinner, expecting to find his friend killing Apaches, but finds Skinner by bodies that have been butchered and not burned. When Book admits that Skinner was right about the number of Apaches waiting ambush Skinner implies he had been guessing all along.
- Death Race -
A short arc set in the 1950s that focuses on a young vampire hunter named Travis Kidd. Travis has been tracking a group of vampires, including Skinner, to the suburbs where he believes they have been holing up
This series publication began on March 17, 2010. with the release of American Vampire #1. This is the first comic which features original Stephen King scripting who was contracted to the initial five issues.
- Skinner Sweet - An outlaw who lived in the Wild West. He was turned into a vampire when the blood from Percy, a vampire banker, fell into his eye during a fight while he was escaping from being hanged. After being trapped into a coffin sunken sixty-six feet under water, he escaped and hunted the vampires who tried to kill him. In 1936, Sweet has relocated to Las Vegas, where he opened a brothel, using the name Jim Smoke. Later Skinner finds himself swept up into WWII as he hunts down a threat to his possible with Pearl.
- Pearl Jones - An aspiring actress in the 1920s who was ambushed by a group of vampires led by a vampire director named B.D. Bloch during one of his parties. She was left for dead at a pit in the desert, but was saved by Sweet when he dropped his blood on her eye, turning her into a vampire. She has relocated to Arrowhead, California, using the surname of her husband, Henry Preston, while she is hiding from the other vampires.
- Hattie Hargrove - Hattie is Pearl's ambitious and slightloy put upon roommate in Hollywood, sharing an apartment with the main character before Pearl is murdered by vampires and transformed by Skinner Sweet.
- Henry Preston - Pearl Jones' husband, he's a jazz musician who decided to help Pearl to enact her revenge against the vampires who almost killed her. Prior to arriving in Hollywood and working as a resident guitarist at a speak easy where Pearl worked, Henry was a journeymen Guitar player. He isn't intimidated by Pearl's vampirism, but sometimes he feels some sadness by the fact that while he's getting older, Pearl isn't.
- Mr. B.D. Bloch - A European vampire masquerading as a Hollywood Mogul
- James "Jim" Book - A detective who worked for Pinkerton Agency, he hunted and arrested Skinner Sweet, who turned him into a vampire in retaliation. Before being consumed by his vampiric instincts, he extracts a promise from Abilena, she is to kill him in exchange for fathering her child that same night.
- Abilena Camino/Book - Daughter of Felix Camino, her mother died at birth. She is James Book's god-daughter, though she professes an unrequited love for him once she grows up. After his death, she takes his surname and together with her daughter Felicia Book hunts Skinner Sweet for an organization called The Vassals of the Morning Star.
- Felix Camino - Father of Abilena Camino/Book Deputy to James Book, and Grandfather of Felicia.
- Will Bunting - the Writer of bad blood and witness to the birth of Skinner Sweet as the first documented American Vampire
- Percy - Leader of a cabal of vampires taking advantage of western expansion, and the maker of Skinner Sweet.
- Finch - Human servant of Percy and the Vampire cabal and employer of James Book.
- Mimiteh - A Young Apache woman who was the first actual American vampire though her exploits were lost to history.
- Felicia Book - Fathered by James Book and his god-daughter Abilena on the night he dies. She is a member of The Vassals of the Morning Star, an organization which hunts vampires. She seems to have unique abilities due to her father's vampirism, though the extent of her abilities is yet to be seen.
- Jack Straw - Another member of the Vassals of the Morning Star, Straw was partnered with Felicia Book while investigating vampire activity in Las Vegas.
- Cashel "Cash" McCogan - As Chief of the Las Vegas Police Department, Cash became involved with Jack Straw and Felicia Book while investigating the grisly murders of several persons responsible for the construction of the Hoover Dam (then called the Boulder Dam).
- Calvin Poole - Met Henry Preston during the Ghost War story arc. Accidentally turned into a vampire after a bottle of Pearl's Blood broke and infected him.
The first hardcover collection of American Vampire was published on October 5, 2010, and on October 15, 2010, it debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List for Graphic Books. The second hardcover collection of American Vampire was published and made available for purchase on May 25, 2011. The third hardcover collection of American Vampire was published and made available for purchase on February 7, 2012.
- American Vampire Vol. 1 (200 pages, collects American Vampire #1-5, ISBN 978-1-4012-2830-9)
- American Vampire Vol. 2 (160 pages, collects American Vampire #6-11, ISBN 978-1-4012-3069-2)
- American Vampire Vol. 3 (288 pages, collects American Vampire #12-18, American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #1-5, ISBN 978-1-4012-3333-4)
- American Vampire Vol. 4 (208 pages, collects American Vampire #19-27 ISBN 978-1-4012-3718-9)
- American Vampire Vol. 5 (272 pages, collects American Vampire #28-34, American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #1-5)
- American Vampire Vol. 6 (144 pages, collects American Vampire Anthology #1, American Vampire: Long Road to Hell #1)
- American Vampire Vol. 7 (144 Pages, collects American Vampire Second Cycle #1-5)
- "List of Eisner Award Winners since 2010". Comic-Con.org. accessed June 28, 2013.
- McMillan, Graeme (November 10, 2009). "American Vampire's Snyder Introduces Our Secret Toothy Cousins". io9. Archived from the original on 14 November 2009. Retrieved December 18, 2009.
- "American Vampire Trailer; King and Snyder Talk Scary, Not Sparkly, Vamps". Dread Central.
- Cowsill, Alan; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "2000s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 340. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
The first five double-sized issues consisted of two stories, illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque. Scott Snyder wrote each issue's lead feature, and Stephen King wrote the back-up tales.
- Vaneta Rogers. "Scott Snyder Prepares to Go it Alone on AMERICAN VAMPIRE". NEWSarama.
- Geddes, John (October 30, 2009). "Stephen King and Scott Snyder give Vampire an evolutionary twist". USA Today. Retrieved December 18, 2009.
- Comics: I Don’t Fucking Sparkle: Interview with Scott Snyder, Creator of American Vampire
- Phegley, Kiel (October 26, 2009). "Scott Snyder & Stephen King Launch American Vampire". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on 3 December 2009. Retrieved December 18, 2009.
- Rogers, Vaneta (October 26, 2009). "STEPHEN KING Brings an American Vampire Tale to Vertigo". Newsarama. Archived from the original on 6 January 2010. Retrieved December 18, 2009.
- George Gene Gustines (October 15, 2010). "Graphic Books Best-Sellers: Vampire 2.0". The New York Times.
- American Vampire at the Comic Book DB