September 9, 2009

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Night Trippers

Written by Mark Ricketts
Illustrated by Micah Farritor
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Why is it that comics artists from time to time think that there's no need to include inking in the process of making their work? Is it budgetary thing? A desire to experiment? An allergy to india ink?

It jars me right out of a story every time I encounter it, and I just don't see what it adds to the creation process.

Night Trippers is one of those stories that forgot to include an inker, and I think the work suffers for it. A story of vampires mixed in with the beginnings of the 1960s counter-culture, the story is, for me at least, just screaming for the shadowy impressions that only an inking job can provide. I understand that to some degree, there was a desire to color this more fancifully than your typical vampire story, since bright colors are a part of the 1960s British scene, but I can't help but think a few thick black lines here and there would have help set the mood and offset the bright colors.

As it was, I ended up getting stopped repeatedly to look at the pencil lines that probably shouldn't have been there and wondering why they weren't removed in post-production. But that could be just me.

Though I wasn't all that fond of the artwork, I did think the story concept was solid and executed very well. Vampires lurk in London, and even originated there instead of the usual Eastern European haunts. They want to control humanity, but how?

Why, take control of the counterculture and subvert it, that's how! It's a brilliant idea that also lets the vampires step in for corporate executives, who've taken everything from peace and love to the grunge look and tried to repackage it in a safe way.

Outside of this overarching concept is the idea that the vampires want a particular young woman as their poster child, and the only people who can save her are her best friend, two aging agents of the British Crown, and a man who may just be a random serial killer instead of hero.

As these groups mingle and mix in the world of 1960s London, musical references and allusions are dropped constantly, from one character speaking in lyrics (cute idea but annoying after awhile) to an appearance by a certain Fab Four. Heck, even some American folks eventually make it into the mix as the plot thickens.

By the end, we have a classic heroic battle for the soul of the lady, minions aplenty, and roots so deep in English history you call them set in stone. Sometimes, your knight in shining armour can be the most unlikely of persons.

There's a lot of good things going in Night Trippers, with a plot that's extremely tight--and logical, which I appreciate. There are also some unfortunate choices, like each character getting monologe boxes all over the place and dialog that probably needed refined a bit before seeing print.

However, overall, this is a fun comic. It's a vampire story with a twist that's cool, if not entirely original, the period references look spot-on to me, and there's nothing like getting to see death (and re-death) dates for vampires as they get killed.

With some more refined artwork and slightly reworded dialog, this would have been a great read. As it is, I enjoyed it a lot and would recommend it for anyone looking to read a new horror comic in a new setting.