Monday, January 19, 2009

First Impression: The Night Projectionist issues 1 and 2

Author: Robert Heske, Art: Diego Yapuro, Colouring: Jorge Blanco

I was lucky enough to be given a look at the first two issues of the comic “the Night Projectionist.” Now, I should explain that the reason I have look at this in the form of a first impression, rather than a full on review of the two issues, is because of the nature of the blog. Regular readers will know that I love to look at the lore surrounding vampires but the lore, in this case, is both intriguing and incomplete. Intriguing because Heske has done some unusual things with vampire lore, incomplete because I only saw two issues into the story and much is left to be revealed. It should also be said that it is unfair on the story, which is designed to be told over a specific number of issues, to judge it so early on – though such a judgement would have been positive.

The comic splits the story into two time frames. We see the occurrences in the village of Kisilova, in Hungary, on the Night of St George’s Eve 1709. Many have mysteriously died and the village priest, Father Paole, blames Burak – a man who, whilst dead, is said to be a sorcerer, and his daughter Carmilla. Here we start getting our lore, Burak is said to be a vampire now and Carmilla is the revenant who cares for him. Exactly what the distinction is between vampire and revenant and how that relationship works has not yet been revealed. It is also suggested that the villagers are being attacked by a parasitic lava that “infects its human hosts. Rotting their insides. It wraps its victims in a cocoon like tomb. While, inexplicably, their spouses remain in a deep slumber.” This was absolutely fascinating but, whilst we have seen the cocoons, we have yet to see the mechanism.

Opposed to the priest is the rational Lieutenant Dragos, who might have lost his wife in such circumstances as described but refuses to blame the dead or, for that matter, the still living Carmilla – his sister-in-law. Unfortunately for Dragos, the priest is absolutely right.

The other part of the story takes place in modern day Massachusetts. A group of vampires, Burak’s coven, are bearing down on the town of Crosston Falls and seem to be converging on a cinema showing, as its last films before closing, a Halloween Draculathon. The projectionist happens to be Dragos and is seen as a traitor to the coven but the question becomes, for the mortals trapped inside, will the enemy of my enemy prove to be my friend?

We get some other interesting lore coming through, it is suggested that crosses are useless but crucifixes not necessarily so – a subtle distinction and we have yet to see the truth of the supposition. Both silver and salt is dangerous to a vampire, salt symbolises purity and thus burns the vampire’s flesh. Holy water is actually a euphemism for salt water. Take the head off one of these vampires and it’ll keep on talking, you have to get the heart.

The story has references, Dracula is referenced both in obvious ways – such as the Draculathon – and less obvious ways, such as setting the events in the past on St George’s Eve, which was the day Harker arrived at Castle Dracula, and also referencing the blue fire that marks the location of buried treasure on that night. Clearly Carmilla was so named for Le Fanu’s story but Father Paole references the case of Arnold Paole, a real world case from the eighteenth century.

The obvious comparison has to be with Thirty Days of Night and there are comparisons that can be made but they are favourable. The story with this feels more thought through and less piecemeal than the one that developed around 30 Days of Night over many volumes. The characterisation is a lot stronger already and we are only two comics in. The artwork is fantastic and it is nice to have a vampire story grounded in Eastern European lore (unusual aspects notwithstanding), which is now fairly synonymous with the Gothic image of the vampire, yet containing the raw brutality that 30 Days brought back to the genre.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the story, very much, and highly recommend the comics as they stand (personally I tend to go for the graphic collections thereafter, but that’s a personal choice thing and this is strong enough that I am expecting it to go to graphic novel format). Further, on the strength of these two issues, I am now rather optimistic about the proposed Night Projectionist movie optioned by Myriad Pictures. The comic has a homepage here.


Uranium Willy said...

Tal the Cafe's old URL is defunct. Dead and it will not ride again like the Prince of Darkness. I am rebuilding from backups on a Blogger address:

I will be on the fringe for a while rebuilding her. Will not be the same as Blogger lacks some of the media capabilities Wordpress had, but I think I can manage something cool and new.

And again another movie I have never heard of but would like to check out. Do you watch and work? I mean watch and blog at the same time?

see ya


Taliesin_ttlg said...

Bill, got your mail re the cafe. Sad but when you are up and running I'll re link the cafe part 2.

You'll be waiting a while for the film of this but check the comic when it comes out next month.

I don't watch and work, unfortunately, being male (as my wife will quite happily confirm) I do not multi task so well - ooo controversial!