A Refreshing Take on Vampires (First Graphic Novel Review!)
DayBlack Volume 1:
By: Keef Cross
I came across this book on NetGalley while I was randomly searching the graphic novel category. I was looking for a quick read and nearly skipped over DayBlack because vampires aren’t really my thing, but the cover art drew me in. DayBlack is about Merce, a former slave-turned-vampire who currently makes his living by giving tattoos to people. The tattoos don’t just make him money, they also provide him a steady supply of blood. He has a brother and a son (there’s an interesting subplot about how he came to have a son) and is basically just keeping himself busy to pass the time.
Though this debut volume is mostly backstory, I was riveted. Merce’s origin story is unique, as is his feeding method. There are a few disappointingly lame vampire tropes thrown into DayBlack, but I can’t help but feel Cross included them to be sarcastic. The most striking thing about DayBlack is the art. It is clearly African inspired and the characters are mostly people of color, and all of them have strong personalities. Cross didn’t spend enough time on them in the first volume for me to determine whether the characters are dynamic, but it’s refreshing to read something where the hero/heroins aren’t all fair-skinned damsels in distress.
However, DayBlack is not for everyone.
DayBlack is an adult’s graphic novel. There’s blood, violence, drugs, and a few images that could probably be considered softcore pornography. If you’d rather not see that stuff, then steer clear of this series.
For people who are used to more traditional comic/graphic novel art (i.e. East Asian-Style art or European/American art) might not appreciate DayBlack’s style. It’s extremely in-your-face, and almost the entire novel is colored with white, black, and red (Merce actually gives a reason for this while talking about his life). The humor in DayBlack is somewhat dark, I imagine Merce to deliver his dialogue in a deadpan manner.
I will say that even though I’m intrigued by the premise and curious about what will happen to Merce, I’m more interested in DayBlack for it’s art than anything else. I’m not terribly invested in the story, but I do like closure and DayBlack ends on a cliff hanger. It might be frustrating if all of the volumes end that way, but since this is just the first book, it makes sense. I’m giving a DayBlack a tentative recommendation level of 4 stars. I’m curious enough that I plan on buying the second volume, yet I don’t feel compelled to purchase it right away. The first volume of DayBlack came out in 2015, but I still haven’t heard a lot of buzz about it. I wonder if it’s because the audience never reached critical mass, or if it’s because other readers can’t quite decide what to make of it. It’s also possible that I’m simply not involved enough in the graphic novel circles and fandoms to have heard about it.
I’d love to write more about DayBlack, but it’s a graphic novel with just over 100 pages. If I give any more information than I already have, then this book will contain spoilers, and I haven’t downloaded a spoiler tag plugin yet (to hide the spoilers from people who don’t want to see them) so I’ll refrain from including them. Instead, I’ll include a few purchase and information links:
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