THE ART OF VAMPIRELLA
PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
REVIEWED BY: ELIZABETH-AMBER LOVE
THE ART OF VAMPIRELLA hardcover does exactly what its creators set out to do: it provides unbelievably gorgeous artwork of one of the strongest female characters in all of comic book history. That being said, the weak parts of the book should be addressed up front so that the most emphasis can be placed on the strong artistic elements.
The main problem with the book is the text. There are numerous typos including funky carriage return symbols in the middle of sentences. Then there’s the verbose text itself written more like filler. There are whole sections that launch into dissertations about Marvel characters, the 1960s feminism zeitgeist and even Dracula cinematic history. While the scantily clad Vampirella surely evokes the fury of feminists, the history lesson could have been handled better. The essays aren’t even credited individually. There are six names credited with having provided “commentary” and most of those are today’s modern artists who have large sections of artwork featured in the book. There’s also no Table of Contents which would have been a great benefit. It’s a coffee table book; but still, someone might want to jump directly to the Joe Jusko section.
Addressing the text content’s best moment, Page 8 explains the long-forgotten backstory behind Vampi’s barely there crimson attire. Most people would never guess that it was the vision of a female artist. Cartoonist Trina Robbins’ recap appears in a sidebar: “Frank [Frazetta] sent him [publisher Jim Warren] some studies of Vampirella, but the costume was all wrong. Warren tried to explain to him what he wanted, and I simply made a sketch of his request on a piece of paper and showed it to him while he was still speaking on the phone.” Robbins was then handed the phone and described her creation to Frazetta and that’s when real comic book and horror history was made in the threads of Vampirella.
The quotes from great artists complimenting others who have had the opportunity to bring Vampirella to canvas or page brings out warm feelings of reverence. The respect from one generation to the next or amongst peers is comforting and genuine. Knowing that Frank Frazetta worshipped the works of José Gonzalez or that Joe Jusko idolized Frazetta shows the possibilities of the comic book industry being a supportive community and not some competitive frat house.
THE ART OF VAMPIRELLA should expose all readers to a few artists’ works they’ve never seen before. Maybe you’re a hardcore Jusko fan but never saw Beck’s work; or maybe you’ll enjoy finding the common themes of Jason Alexander, Christopher Shy and Arthur Suydam. Each artist brings something unique to Vampirella from variations to her costume to the mood behind her eyes. She’s playful, seductive and sometimes so fiercely scary you want to run but just find yourself sucked into her thrall. Franchesco! makes her cute; Stephen Segovia makes her alluring; Dan Brereton makes her more monstrous. Phil Noto’s style of innocence would surely fool any mortal man that walked her way. Then there are the various pin-up Greats like Mark Texeira and Joe Chiodo. There are simply too many stunning pieces to references in one review.
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT has a reputation for promoting whatever title/character happens to be the hot commodity of the day whether it’s good or not. This unfortunately means that as a company you only see their properties that are being marketed as movie or television franchises. Thankfully, they have brought VAMPIRELLA back to shelves with a new ongoing comic series. The series starts out rocky, to be kind in criticism, but it does have promise to return Vampi to her proper stature as a female lead which something severely lacking in today’s comics. To help move this campaign along Dynamite will feature two Vampi products in April (2011) aside from her regular comic book: a Vampirella Aurora Model Kit and Vampirella Crimson Chronicles Maximum trade paperback.
For the best Vampirella costuming check out my beautiful friends Belle Chere and Panda Valentine. In case the thought crosses your mind, my official answer is: “No, I will never be dressing as Vampirella without some top rate special effects and a professional designer.”