The Gothic Graphic Novel
Baltimore,: Or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire
Such a great story deserves a great header. This book literally fell right into my lap. A close friend of mine, who knows how much I love vampire stories and graphic novels, found it in the recently published section of our local library. I nearly did not believe them, thinking that no library would voluntarily purchase this book for the general public. I also thought that such a cool idea for a graphic novel would never find its way to me by chance. It was not the first time I was proved wrong and I am sure it will not be the last time.
First I love the title and not just I because I live in Maryland. The name Baltimore is old, older than the United States and the City of Baltimore, obviously. The name comes from a title held by the Calvert family whom were the Baron Baltimores that founded and governed the city of Baltimore before the American Revolution. (For those of you living outside of Maryland the state flag, which many think is a bit strange, is a combination of the Calvert and the Crossland family shields.) Sorry, enough about the name.
The authors are Mike Mignola, who also does the creepy and wonderful illustrations and is best known as the creator of Hellboy, and Christopher Golden, the bestselling author of The Myth Hunters, Ferryman and Strangewood. This book is a must read for anyone who loves the horror of vampire tales and the supernatural gothic tale.
The story goes, the world has been overrun by vampires, and not the nice vampires of the Twilight series, the Sookie Stackhouse series or even Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. These are monsters that humans do not fall in love with. They are villains that kill for food with out emotions. They more resemble the vampires in the new trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, which I highly recommend.
Baltimore is the hero of this story. A soldier from World War I who both creates and witnesses the awakening of the vampire plaque on the hellish fields of battle. What makes this story so powerful, and in my book what makes it gothic, is the fact that it is set in the aftermath of World War I. A war that more cruel and kill more people than most people today will ever understand. In tradition gothic tales it was always the setting that gave the story it troublingly scary punch. World War I was like a plague in western Europe that killed more than 15 million people, not just soldiers.
Not only is the story hauntingly amazing, but the illustrations adds wonder to the imagination that this story induces. The skulls, the shadows and the fact that they are in black and white bring the story alive in visions that get stuck in your head and stay there long after you have finished the story. Mike Mignola has a unique tale for injecting the emotions of the macabre into his art. He also worked on the Francis Ford Coppola’s film Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992).
After the release of the Graphic Novel the story of Baltimore expanded to a comic series, which I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing. You can trust that I shall when my reading list allows me. I have also heard rumors for sometime that there are plans for this story to become a film following the success of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. If anyone knows anymore than I do, please share. I loved this story.