(Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat #1, published Innovation, cover art by John Bolton)
Rummaging around through some of my old comics stash back at the parental home recently I came across one I had forgotten I had – the comic adaptation of The Vampire Lestat, the second of Anne Rice’s bestselling Vampire Chronicles, which I will confess I bought because I always had something of a Gothic streak and I loved those first two volumes. And before you all start sniggering at me for my confession, you should bear in mind the original Inteview with the Vampire then the Vampire Lestat were one of the biggest, if not the biggest, revolution in the vampire novel genre since Stoker’s Dracula and their influence continues to permeate the horror genre. From the third book on (Queen of the Damned) I felt the books become more bloated, the characters, especially Lestat, seemed to go in a direction I really didn’t enjoy and I slowly gave up on the series.
But the first two books remain firm favourites of mine; Vampire Lestat was a sort-of sequel to Inteview, perhaps more of a counterpart to it than sequel, this time told from Lestat’s point of view (Interview was entirely told from Louis’ point of view and didn’t paint Lestat in the best light), exploring his origins in his own words when he awakens from decades of sleep to find the late 20th century very much to his flamboyant tastes (he soon forms a Goth Rock band with himself as the lead singer). For those unfamiliar with the book the cover art above, by the always excellent John Bolton, draws Lestat’s mortal life in pre-revolutionary France, where as the son of the local lord he is expected to deal with a pack of wolves terrorising the peasants on their estates in the heart of winter; Lestat is quite the action man long before he has his supernatural powers and his reputation as the ‘wolfkiller’ is one of the qualities that attracts and ancient vampire to him when he travels to Paris.
(newly awoken after decades of hibernation Lestat discovers the late 20th century, late night shopping, computers, big-screen TV and, of course, rock music; from the Vampire Lestat comic #1 adapted by Faye Perozich from Anne Rice’s novel, pencils by Joseph Lieaneaus Phillips, painted colours by Daerick Gross)
Innovation also adapted Interview and Queen of the Damned from the Vampire Chronicles, as well as several other literary to comics adaptations, including some Piers Anthony, in addition to some original works like the Maze Agency. The Lestat series from Innovation boasted some lushly painted artwork which suited the Gothic/Romantic mood of the story, Faye Perozich adapting the novel into 12 issues, with artwork from Joseph Lieaneaus Phillips, Daerick Gross and Mike Okamoto, with Gross in particular delivering some lovely painted work over the pencils. Ballantine later collected it into hardback and trade paperback graphic novels, but they seem to have been out of print for some time, which is a shame – although some of the styling betrays its early 90s origins it was a fairly good adaptation of the novel very true to the original story and qualities, and given how popular that book has been across the years I’m surprised the graphic version isn’t available any more. Perhaps modern fang fans prefer their vamp comics in the manga style of the Twilight adaptation and this kind of thing is simply unfashionable? Still, if you can’t get hold of an old copy of the comics version the original novel remains a popular read and easy to obtain and I’d still recommend first Interview With the Vampire then The Vampire Lestat if you are in the mood for some lush, art and history soaked Romantic vamping out.