V IS FOR VAMPIRE
Adam-Troy Castro & Johnny Atomic
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
The alphabet book may be one of the most basic forms of text. Twenty-six pages, each one with a word dictated by the corresponding letter of the alphabet, and an illustration to show that A stands for Apple. Adam-Troy Castro and Johnny Atomic have teamed up to create a thematic alphabet book which not only teaches the alphabet but take and affectionate, and sometimes satiric, look at its subject in V Is for Vampire.
The subversive tone of the volume is evident from the very first page when Castro announces that “A is for Arterial Spray” and Atomic takes a potshot at both advertising and the text. Atomic’s art continues to take center stage throughout the book, offering a mix of near photorealism with an almost cartoon quality as the blacks, whites, and grays of his images are punctuated with a splash of crimson (or, in some cases, a more subtle pink). These images always can stand on their own, but taken in combination with Castro’s words, the humor underlying them becomes even more pronounced.
Just as Atomic’s pictures are appealing and need nothing additional to be enjoyed on their own, so too, does Castro’s text stand on its own. Castro demonstrates a knowledge of the history of vampire fiction demonstrating that he has more than a passing familiarity with the works of Bram Stoker and his successors. His entry for the letter I demonstrates that he is well aware of the variations in vampires used by different authors.
By design, V is for Vampire is a short book. However, Castro’s witty, and detailed, descriptions reward multiple and close readings. Similarly, Atomic’s paintings also include humor and details that make the viewer want to take another look to pick out the fine points.
Perhaps the best thing about V Is for Vampire is that it isn’t alone. Castro and Atomic have also collaborated on Z is for Zombie, meaning their entertaining and skewed view of classic horror tropes doesn’t have to end with “Z is for Zealotry.”
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