Jenika was kind enough to send me issue 4 of her great Vampire Free Style recently. You may remember that I said of the first 3 issues back in April 2008:
Vampire Free Style is an absolutely delightful book, with much to offer to a wide range of comic and non-comic readers. There’s a lightness and playfulness throughout the book but the cuteness coexists happily with a sense of loss and sadness that, if Jenika handles it right in forthcoming issues, will make this book far more than the cute Manga Goth book it superficially resembles. It’s a modern little fairy story, mixing gothic romance with a great sense of fun in both writing and art.
In these first three issues we’re introduced to a young trainee witch boy with a habit of jumping off roofs trying to fly his broomstick. Our young witch boy meets an interesting cat on his latest aborted flying lesson. But this black cat, Micia, is no ordinary cat and she seems to be linked not only to Padroncino (the witch boy), but also with Edward, leader of a group of Goths who can only see a beautiful Death like Goth girl whenever he looks at Micia. Obviously there is more to this cat than meets the eye.
Indeed there appears to be much more to so many of the cast of characters. Padroncino is desperately searching for the girlfriend who mysteriously disappeared; there are witches and witchcraft everywhere, and more questions than answers so far. The interweaving of their stories is seen, by the start of issue three, to last through the centuries. Lost necklaces, secret masters living in the darkness, and of course, at some point we find out why it’s called Vampire Free Style. Although, with so many Goths around, it was no surprise to find out that someone with a thirst for blood would be showing up.
And with issue 4, it all starts coming together a little more. Edward, recently bitten by a vampire is dreaming of his past life, 300 years ago, where we find out that not only was he a Vampire himself, but he fell in love with a mortal called Elea.
(Not the most romantic line in the world perhaps. But it works here. From Vampire Free Style 4 by Jenika Ioffreda)
And on the looks alone, it’s very likely this Elea is the same Elea that our despairing and heartbroken witch boy Padroncino is looking for after she mysteriously disappeared. Strange that she should disappear just before that cute black cat Micia appeared.
Whilst this issue is all about story, Jenika still manages to get moments of intense sadness and loss in, as well as a great comedy routine with Padroncino trying his best to work a transforming spell that’s playing havoc with Micia:
Vampire Free Style is really developing into a very good comic and Jenika seems to be able to work the very difficult balancing act of manga hi-jinks and comedy against a backdrop of Gothic romance and supernatural thriller very well indeed. The art is lovely, the stories getting better and better.
My only complaint? It’s been at least 9 months between issue 3 and this issue. I’d love to see them more often.