Goth girl Raven has finally found happiness with her vampire boyfriend Alexander when a group of mysterious teens shows up in town. Lead by Alexander’s cousin, Claude, the gang wants something Alexander is guarding and they’ll stop at nothing, not even daylight, to get it.
Set in a town called Dullsville and featuring a completely gentle, non-threatening vampire love interest, the popular Vampire Kisses novel series isn’t trying for a dark, foreboding tone. Instead Schneider calls on her past as a comedienne and keeps things light, with just enough touches of horror to make readers long for a dark-eyed, undead boyfriend of their own. This manga volume is not an adaptation of any of the novels in the series, but rather a separate story in and of itself. It stands fairly well on its own and readers who have not picked up the novels will be able to follow the plot easily.
Rem’s art perfectly fits the story. Raven is cute, rather than pretty, and her Goth-girl-next-door looks make her more approachable than a girl dating a vampire might normally seem. All of the characters are fairly stereotypical—Raven the good bad girl, her clueless, All-American best friend Becky, and Alexander, whose brooding good looks give rise to the idea that he might have not only read Byron, but actually given the man tips on fashion—but that seems to be more from Schreiber’s descriptions of them rather than Rem’s input. The panels are mostly simple, with plain or no backgrounds, depending on the foreground action. This adds to the fast read feel of the comic. A few nice touches, such as dramatic use of shadow or small moments between Raven and Alexander, help flesh out the story and make the characters come to life.
Blood Relatives‘ main downfall is that it is too short. At only 128 pages, including 13 pages of character designs and a 9 page preview from the novel Vampire Kisses 4: Dance with a Vampire, readers barely have a chance to get into the story before it ends. The cliff-hanger ending of this sweet, slightly silly, horror-ish title will have them begging for the sequel.
Vampire Kisses, vol. 1: Blood Relatives
Story by Ellen Schreiber, Art by Rem