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The Accursed Vampire | Review

The Accursed Vampire coverThe Accursed Vampire
Writer/artist: Madeline McGrane
HarperCollins; Ages 10+

Dragoslava is the protagonist of Madeline McGrane’s new original graphic novel The Accursed Vampire, and the character stands out sharply from all the others in the book.

Drago, as they are known to their friends, looks a little like a cross between Max Schreck’s Nosferatu and Charlie Brown, their perfectly round head resting atop a billowing black triangle of a cloak. While the book seems to be drawn in the popular style of modern graphic novels for young readers epitomized by Raina Telgemeier and similar artists, Drago looks to be drawn by an entirely different artist than the one who drew everything else in the book; flatter, simpler and completely lacking in color, Drago is immediately noticeable as being apart from everything else.

This doesn’t seem to be a commentary on the character’s place in their world, although perhaps it is meant to be reflective of how they feel about themselves. Drago, after all, has two best friends they’ve spent centuries with, and, as The Accursed Vampire progresses, we find their may even be the makings of a real family in Drago’s future, even if Drago doesn’t see it as quickly or clearly as we do.

When we first meet Drago, they are in the company of Quintis and Eztli, both of whom are also kid vampires (and despite their advanced ages, they never seem to stop thinking, acting and even moving around and falling over like little kids do, which is where much of the book’s humor comes from).

Unlike their friends, however, Drago has something of a “job”; they’re in the thrall of a powerful and immortal witch who occasionally gives them tasks to perform.

The latest task, delivered via a cell phone vomited up by a raven at the door of Drago’s crypt, is to journey to a small midwestern town to retrieve a stolen grimoire. The trio dutifully set to work, when they find the most likely suspects living in a big old spooky house: A couple consisting of a grown-up vampire and her girlfriend, a witch who practices and teaches magic…and has an awfully big collection of spell books.

As the kids ingratiate themselves with the couple, Drago continue to stay on the lookout for his mistress’ lost book, and they must ultimately decide between betraying people who have never been anything but nice to them for the sake of their employer, who has never been anything but nasty to them, or finally taking a stand and ending the toxic relationship, no matter what might come of it. (The witch has threatened to turn Drago into worms if they ever rebel, so it’s not as simple a decision as it might seem to those of  us not in the employ of an evil witch.)

McGrane tells an emotionally complex story in The Accursed Vampire, flashing back through Drago’s long, long biography repeatedly as the story progresses so we see how they became a vampire in the first place and how they came to be in the “employ” of the witch, someone Drago looked to for some sort of motherly or parental love, only to be rebuffed. Despite the high emotions and difficult questions regarding morality and life choices, the book never strays too far from its humorous default mode.

The Accursed Vampire is a very funny book, but, to its great credit, it’s much more than just a very funny book.

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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