Now, I’m no comic book expert but I feel fairly confident in saying DayBlack, written and illustrated by Keef Cross, is not your average comic book. How did a comic book newb such as myself stumble across an interesting new series? Well, I was debating whether or not I wanted to go to Nerdcon: Stories this year and a good part of the debate was spent looking up the storytellers and storytelling facilitators that would be attending. Keef Cross happens to be one of them. After I spent some time looking at his website I had to buy his comic book, if only to see more of his art. (Wanna see? Go here!) I was grateful to find that DayBlack is also an interesting story.
DayBlack is about Merce, a former slave that has been a vampire for four hundred years now. He’s a tattoo artist in a town called DayBlack (There’s the title folks!) and his adapted son is a vampire hunter that gives his dad a pass on vampire thing. Honestly one of the main things that stood out to me as slightly different about this story is that Merce seems slightly removed. He is speaking directly to us, telling us how things are and watching what happens with us as they’re happening. I think with any other character this might bug me a bit and take me out of the story, but it really fits Merce. He starts out the story telling us about his discontent, his feeling like a “retired vampire, waiting to die somewhere in Florida.” and his hope and gut feeling that this will change soon. He’s four hundred years removed from a life or a heartbeat so it makes sense that he’d be removed from things that are happening in the mortal world around him.
This Volume is definitely setting up for a lot to happen in the next couple of volumes. We’re introduced to a few of the main players and we learn about how vampires work in this world. The different vampire rules were some of my favorite bits about this volume. For example, AIDS got started because when vampires drank AIDS infected blood they died. In addition to being a comic book newb I’m a vampire newb but I think that’s pretty darn clever. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I won’t give it all away but I thought Cross’s take on which symbols harmed which vampires was fascinating.
I think I’ve said before that I’m trying to focus on the art of comic books more. I want to be able to say something clever and intelligent about it but ignorance comes it threes, it seems, and I’m also new at being critical about art. I know that the art in this comic book is set up differently than what I’ve seen before. Instead of a bunch of panels on one page, for the most part it’s one big illustration per page. This works really well with how the story is presented to the reader as coming directly from Merce. You’ll also notice as you’re going through it that it is primarily done in black and white and red. This is because we find out that vampires are color blind except for red. Details like these make for a lush, dark, and beautifully presented story. I can’t wait to see where this goes!