Vampire Free Style Issue 6
Initially planned as the culmination of her series, Vampire Free Style #6 is a conclusion of sorts to Jenika Iofffreda’s quirky gothic love story of magic spells, vampires, lost loves, and mysterious cats.
In the past five issues we’ve met Padroncino; trainee witch boy searching for a vanished girlfriend, and Edward; ancient vampire who fell in love with a mortal girl centuries ago. And the cat Micia, who may well be the thing that links them both. Their twin tales became more and more conjoined through the series, and Iofredda did a fine job of playing the dual strands with just enough comedy, just enough melodrama, just enough heartbreak. Like I said of issue five:
“In this penultimate issue all of the tangled, tantalising threads of the comic’s story are beginning to come together. The manga-esque style fantasy is losing it’s comedy and cutesy factor but this is replaced by a strong story where everyone and everything is falling into place. It’s looking like it will all come together as a lovely, well drawn, gothic fantasy fairy story – and that’s gothic more in reference to the genre combining horror and romance than the obvious gothic elements of vampires and dark haired young women with top hats and black dresses.”
(Micia; no ordinary cat, she may be the key to the whole story. From Vampire Free Style by Jenika Ioffreda)
But sadly, a combination of factors means that this issue comes off rather rushed, rather anticlimactic and somewhat disappointing to be honest.
One big reason for the feeling of hmmm is the sheer length of time it’s been between issues – just under two years since the fifth issue. And although the full page of recap on the inside front cover does go some way towards filling a reader in, it’s no substitute for the slow, careful buildup in the previous issues.
But the real problem is a feeling of anticlimax. Although Ioffreda states she’s continuing the series, there’s a lot of storyline tidied up and neatly resolved here. Yes, I can see why she’s done it, can see why the storyline didn’t have to end here, as clearly there’s far too much been built up in the preceding five issues to neatly finish completely here in the sixth. And in tidying up so much, there’s a sense of just having it all explained away, in a far too convenient fashion. It’s lacking the fun and romance of the previous issues, replacing them with exposition and conclusions.
So there’s too little space for Ioffreda to deliver all of the things I much enjoyed with previous issues. There I talked about a sense of Vampire Free Style being “fun and packed with spirit and raw energy“, and having artwork that was “a curious mix of styles; the obvious reference point for me is Neil Gaiman’s Death series … But there’s also a very westernised Manga look to it complete with bighead moments galore, shifting artistic styles and androgynous boys and girls. And I can also see elements of Charles Vess and P Craig Russell in there as well“.
(Toward the end of this issue, and a return to our inept trainee witch boy, and a hint at what’s still to come.)
And much of that is still here, the art still looks good, and her characters are still interesting, and I’ll be checking on issue 7 to see where she’s taking it all, but I can’t help feeling this storyline deserved at least another issue of build up, a slow playing out of the events crammed into this issue. That way it would have felt more in keeping with the rest of the series.
Taken as a whole, Vampire Free Style is still a fun, quirky mix of comedy and gothic love story, with a nice cast of interesting, well fleshed out characters, but this sixth issue rather underwhelmed.