Posted: Tuesday, October 19, 2004
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Vampspew Creator(s): Steve Feldman
Publishers: Self Published
From: USA
Price: $2(US

A young man finds himself set upon by vicious mosquitos and the extremes of weather. These forces combine to bring about a terrible transformation, as the man suddenly craves blood, attacks an old woman, is chased by a mob of locals, begins to query the need for quadratic equations, and attends a dance of mad monks.

What strange madness is at work here? This fellow suffers gross events and seems to lose his mind. The narrative is random and surreal as horror and personal computers somehow interconnect. It's gentle pacing prevents the tale falling into chaos, as the narrator recounts the events. The goings on here are weird but strangely emotionless. The amusing name made me expect some humour, but very little here is for laughs.

The spooky tone of the book is enhanced by Steve's artwork which looks to be raw pencils with a very open style. Backgrounds are kept as blank space or solid dark areas. There are no speech balloons so the characters don't feel like they are interacting with each other, instead they seem to be just posing for the reader. The cast of characters are outlandish in their facial expressions and states of decay. They have awkward proportions and strange deformities which gave me the creeps. Thus Steve is successful in creating an interesting tone for the book with artwork that presents an outlandish series of events.

The plot is less successful than the art. Perhaps Steve has been too random with the events combine here - they take strange leaps of logic without any sense of developing the story. Reading it will perhaps cause a raised eyebrow, but no raised interest. Playing with randomness can be like that; sometimes it turns up interesting contrast and juxtapositions, but often it just makes for randomness.

In a Word: Distant.

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