The Strain Volume 1 — Graphic Novel Review

Genre: Graphic Novel, Vampires
Authors: David Lapham (script), Mike Huddleston (Illustrator), Dan Jackson (Illustrator)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics, Inc.
Edition:Kindle First edition: July 2014
ISBN: 978-1-61655-548-1

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When a Boeing 777 lands at JFK International Airport and goes dark on the runway, the Center for Disease Control, fearing a terrorist attack, calls in Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his team of expert biological-threat first responders. Only an elderly pawnbroker from Spanish Harlem suspects a darker purpose behind the event--an ancient threat intent on covering mankind in darkness. In one week, Manhattan will be gone. In one month, the country. In two months--the world.

This horrifying first chapter introduces an outbreak of diabolical proportions that puts a terrifying twist on the vampire genre! Collects issues #1 through #11.

Save for some comics in my childhood days (because I don't remember them much), this is my first American graphic novel ever! I got an ARC from Dark Horse Comics, Inc. via netgalley.

I love reading mangas (Japanese comics) so I can't help but compare the American style and the Japanese style when it comes to comic strips or if you insist, graphic novels. While mangas are usually in black and white, graphic novels are colored. I have come across colored mangas so I have to say, the American style lacks emotion. Or rather, American graphic novels don't evoke emotions much like what Japanese mangas could. Mangas could set the tone of the story on the very first page (if you exclude the title page, the table of contents and what I call the transition page). It has something to do with the way they color the background or the way the eyes are drawn. Not that the eyes are big but there's so much details in the eyes, you would know when the character is unconscious, angry, pathetic, hopeless, evil and apathetic or just plain cold.

Given those things, then by default, I would never feel anything for any graphic novels released by America save perhaps the Twilight graphic novels drawn by a Korean manhwa artist. Manhwa is the korean version of manga and even if a comics is released in japan as a manga, if the artist is korean, it will be called manhwa. I only saw the first two pages of the Twilight graphic novels and what I felt was the same with how I felt reading the books for the very first time. It was engrossing with such vivid emotions.

So pardon me if I couldn't acclimate myself with the American standard for comics. Old habits die hard and my habits stay with manga.

Because the lack of emotions is already out of the question, then I'd focus on other things for this graphic novel. The story is written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan as a trilogy novel published by Dark Horse Books. Both writers claim in the preface that "This is not an illustrated version of our novels. This is a graphic retelling: a visual translation, and a definitive one." I sort of understand what that means. The graphic novels couldn't capture the underlying emotions elicited by the books.

What this graphic novel is good at, it's making you think you are watching a film on a sheet of paper or a page in the digital reader for that matter. For that, I think that this novel will be great on the big screen. E. M. Gist’s lush, hyperrealistic covers (and what I call transition pages or that page telling you you're on to a new chapter), reminds me of the japanese animation film, Blood: The Last Vampire. They're just pure horror. I love how this graphic novel takes on Nosferatu (german's version of Dracula) seemingly as The Master of Strigoi, with the tall limbs and all. It made me feel like dark things are lurking, awaiting me at the corners wherever I go. If it were not for the bombardment of scientific things in the story, this would have been an unadulterated horror.

Putting all my prejudices aside (I prefer the feel of Japanese manga than American graphic novels), this graphic novel has a fluid plot, well-rounded characters and awesome art.

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