Comic books have always been a favourite of mine. Between the ages of Eight and Twelve, I spent all of my classtime illustrating and writing my own series rather than doing my school work, and would look forward to coming home just so I could resume my work unperturbed by those irksome teachers and my fellow peers. Just recently, my passion for the craft has been reignited and Iâ€™ve probably spent much more on comic books than I care to admit publicly (for the sake of my family not killing me) this past summer. What Iâ€™m getting at here, is that naturally, I was very excited to begin reading The Night Projectionist, a graphic novel that Fangoria considers â€śThe next 30 Days of Night.â€ť
The story, penned by Robert Heske, is fairly simple. It deals with two parallel stories that converge about halfway through the arc. The first story takes place in Hungary, 1709, depicting the exploits of a quite literal witchhunt for a man known by the locals to be a vampyre, (Thatâ€™s how I spell them, get over it.) the second puts a modern day cinema under threat, and of course all of the people attending the Draculathon event taking place. (It should probably go without saying that this takes place on Halloween.) For the sake of familiarity, this story could be compared to Ginger Snaps Back meets Argentioâ€™s Demons. The main character, a family man-turned-vampyre bent on exacting his revenge against his dastardly father in-law (arenâ€™t we all?), the antagonistic vampyre holding the theater – and his family â€“ under siege, brings a dash of Blade into this rancid concoction as well. I hope that isnâ€™t EC enough for you, kiddies, because thereâ€™s plenty more tricks & treats where that came from!
The artwork by Diego Yapur is, to say the least, surprising. To be honest, I really didnâ€™t know what to expect the artwork to be before reading it for myself. Iâ€™ve always been a fan of the 1980â€™s style artwork found in the likes of Watchmen, or The Killing Joke Batman arc. Of recent times, I think that Sonic the Hedgehog has adapted to the more pastel-y, modern style the best. The lush hues and soft details just suit that universe better than it does Ultimate Spider-Man, or The New Avengers. Yapurâ€™s methods in this volume appear to be somewhat of a combination of both. His graphics are clearly computer-generated, but they are done much more tastefully than most comics of late that Iâ€™ve picked up. The stubble on certain characterâ€™s faces, for instance, is a nice touch that looks much better than what other (probably more careless) illustrators would have done. The best comparison visually off the top of my hat would be Wildstorm Productionâ€™s A Nightmare On Elm Street releases. There were some really cool effects such as blood splatters off-panel or an inter-panel claw belonging to a vampyre, nothing too novel, but itâ€™s those special touches that can make something really stand out more.
Overall, The Night Projectionist is a quick, enjoyable read. It doesnâ€™t do much for the progression of the vampyre mthology or break the boundaries of the comic book format, but it never promised to, either. It is a fun vampyre tale that is perfectly content with being just that. If I had one complaint it would be that the characters could have been fleshed out a bit more (particularly the â€śgothâ€ť archetype and her grandfather), but then again, the most could be said of most comic arcs or movies of this nature. Would I call this â€śThe next 30 Days of Night?â€ť Well, no. Partially because Iâ€™ve never actually read 30 Days of Night (Itâ€™s on my list! Please, donâ€™t stone me!). This is The Night Projectionist, and thatâ€™s nothing to be ashamed of at all.
PS: Keep your eyes peeled for a clever homage to The Last Picture Show in a newspaper headline!
Book Review: The Night Projectionist – Author Robert Heske