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  NIGHT TRIPPERS
By MARK RICKETTS, MICAH FARRITOR (Image; 2006)

This one-shot graphic novel presents a stunningly visualized, black-humored account of vampirism, 1960s style. The setting is Swinging London and the protagonist a spindly, fatally naÔve blonde nurse named Dot.

     Dot falls under the spell of Pendragon, a centuries-old vampire who lives in a psychedelic castle. There he turns Dot on and creates an Edie Sedgwick-like superstar out of her. Pendragon plans to use her as part of his dastardly quest for world domination. This plan involves Pendragonís vampirized superstars, who will literally never grow old or suffer the ravages of drug abuse, making them all the more attractive to the youth of England, who will lead Pendragonís charge under the guise of youthful rebellion.

     All this may sound like a reactionary attack on the icons of the sixties (the supporting cast includes a distinctly Beatles-esque rock group first seen chanting Satanic invocations), and it may well be that. But seeing as how the intent appears to be satiric above all else, and that author Mark Ricketts fronts his own period-inspired rock band (advertised in the final pages), Iím willing to give NIGHT TRIPPERS the benefit of the doubt on this issue.

     To get back to the story: Standing in Pendragonís way are an ancient ďTeddy BoyĒ armed with all sorts of vampire repellants and a couple dotty old coots who know Dot through her hospital work (all the heroes in this book are old men, providing more ammo for the reactionary viewpoint). Iíll confess I was rooting for Pendragon, who if nothing else is far and away the most interesting character of the piece.

     The tale overall is witty and quite clever. Inspired touches include frequent red-tinted panels in which characters give us their thoughts on the action (in place of traditional thought bubbles) and captions that appear every time somebody dies, announcing his or her end by providing their lifespan (if that character happens to be a vampire s/he gets two death dates).

     The artwork by Micah Farritor is the best thing about the project in my view. Ferritorís energetic and inspired captions, done in muted colors, combine silent era expressionism with sixties psychedelia, and furthermore contain quite a few dead-on depictions of many of the eraís real-life icons. I recommend this book for its visuals, which, even when the story grows overly clever and self-satisfied (which unfortunately is quite often), never fail to impress.

     

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