Based on Stephenie Meyer’s YA series of the same name, the Twilight franchise garnered a cult following in the early 2010s. Critically speaking, the films declined in quality towards the end but the first installment continues to enthrall viewers. There had been many vampire romance before but Twilight made this romantic-horror subgenre much palatable for younger audiences.
Similar themes and tropes have been evoked in several horror/romance novels but the vampire genre and its subculture have been accommodated in the world of comics, too. Such works often end up adding a more humanized element to the usual vampire, werewolf, and zombie-like characters, transcending above outdated horror clichés.
Twilight: The Graphic Novel
An obvious choice might be the first Twilight graphic novel written by Meyer and illustrated by Young Kim. This adaptation was published in two volumes in 2011, expectedly turning into a best-seller and makes for an essential collector’s item for the films’ fans.
The lettering and the familiar plot might put off some viewers but its artwork would still satisfy fans as it carries a strong fanfiction-like aura to it. And of course, it’s no secret Twilight spurred a plethora of fanfiction stories on the internet.
Ryo Hanada’s manga Devil’s Line ran for over three years and it’s one of the best manga to delve into a vampire-human relationship. The dark fantasy series is set in a world where vampires live among humans (hiding from the government and controlling their bloodlust).
In this setting, a vampire and a human fall in love, both go down a murderous rabbit hole that compels the former to hide his roots. Devil’s Line also inspired the dystopian romance anime of the same name.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Reboot)
As iconic as the TV series it spawned from, Buffy The Vampire Slayer makes for quintessential vampire literature with its blend of gore, comedy, horror, and teen drama. The original Dark Horse run was mostly inspired by its original source material but the reboot series (published under BOOM Studios) would make for an equally engaging read, especially for new-age fans.
A more modern and post-millennial environment aside, the reboot series does reinterpret the show’s characters as the titular lead balances her personal life along with her supernatural adventures.
When I Arrived At The Castle
Eroticism has been a recurring theme in several works of vampire-related fiction. When I Arrived At The Castle plays around with this erotic sensuality and blends it with some good, old Gothic Romance.
Written by Emily Carroll, the story begins when a cat-eared woman visits a Transylvanian-looking castle, aiming to murder the castle’s Countess. However, as the blood-drinking Countess plays mental tricks with her visitor, what follows is a twisted love story that serves as a tribute to fairy tales and classic horror literature. The emotive art style is minimalistic with shades of black and white occasionally merging with the redness of blood.
Bleed Them Dry
Bleed Them Dry is a perfect blend of themes, to say the least. While the storyline plays out like a neo-noir as a policewoman Harper Halloway investigates a case with her vampire partner, the timeline is heavily inspired by cyberpunk fiction and incorporates sci-fi elements.
The thrills grow intense as the protagonist gets falsely implicated in a case turning into a fugitive, with only a serial killer to turn to for help (who also happens to be a vampire slayer). And if this wasn’t enough, the comic’s cover also calls it a “ninja vampire tale,” a claim that gets clearer as one reads further.
A miniseries by Vertigo Comics, Bite Club provides ‘bloody’ fun fueled by a socio-political relevance that’s still relevant over the years. The plot alternates between a criminal vampire family and a police unit that’s tasked to put an end to their activities.
However, instead of demarcating the two sides as good and bad, the comics try exploring the nuances and flaws of each side. Howard Chaykin’s story offers no straight answer and doesn’t shy away from its overtones of racial profiling, and police brutality towards immigrants (vampires in this case).
Blood & Water
Another iconic Vertigo miniseries would be the horror-comedy Blood & Water. The comic picks off with a man discovering he has a few days to live. When his best friends come out to him as vampires, he decides to follow their advice and mutates into a similar creature.
In documenting its hero’s metamorphosis, Blood & Water succeeds at engaging readers with clever reworkings of vampire mythology. For instance, the vampires in this universe feast on animal blood as the blood of humans can make them psychotic.
Blood: A Tale
Its non-linear narrative aside, Blood: A Tale benefits from the single-page watercolor illustrations that truly make it a work of high-art. These panels by Kent Williams are both enthralling and haunting at the same time.
The graphic novel is bound to upset some viewers and it has drawn polarizing reactions since its publication in the ’80s. And hence, Blood‘s surreal themes need patience to be understood fully. To put it simply, it relies on a tale-inside-a-tale as an aging king hears the story of a vampire. Both characters embark on journeys filled with greed and desire. While one wishes for long life, the other craves blood. A philosophical antithesis to the vampire genre, the book’s mellowness brims with a perpetual sense of cynicism.
Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel
Catering to a demographic of young-adult readers, Vampire Academy‘s art and text would evoke nostalgia among audiences who grew up on the urban fantasy wave in the last decade.
The storyline is just a reworking of the first novel (that was adapted into a less-successful film) and focuses on St. Vladimir’s Academy, a private school for vampires and ‘half-bloods.’ Murder mysteries and high-school romances intertwine as best friends Rose and Lissa make sense of their vampire roots.
Matsuri Hino’s manga Vampire Knight builds on a similar premise as Vampire Academy as a human school doubles as a vampire institution by night.
The protagonist Yuki Cross unconditionally guards the elite Cross Academy at night as young vampires (again demarcated as Purebloods and Half-bloods) commence their studies. However, as time progresses, Cross chances upon older memories that unearth the actual connection she shares with the vampire race.