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Graphic Novel Review: Dusk by David Doub

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Dusk is nothing if not timely. Written by David Doub and drawn by several artists, it’s an independent graphic novel about Vampires, and with the success of Twilight and True Blood, there’s clearly an appetite for this kind of material. But, with the plethora of vampire stories already available, what distinguishes Dusk? After checking out this first volume, of which there’s still more to come, that’s not totally clear. The basic setup has main character Eve working as the assistant to vampire Ash, in exchange for a daily dose of his blood to keep herself strong.

As a girl slaying vampires, Eve can’t help but bring to mind Buffy, and in general the first few stories hit territory I’ve seen a bunch of times before. I like vampire mythology, but I preferred the skewed take Buffy had to the more straight forward approach of something like True Blood or this book. There are some attempts at humor, but generally it plays as pretty dark and classical, with Ash in the position of noble, old morally ambiguous vampire and Eve as the girl drawn to him.

The book is structured as four chapters, each a kind of standalone story. The first sets up the world, and later ones delve into Eve’s back story and feature an excursion to a snowy mountain to hunt a vampire. The most compelling of the stories is the final one, which centers on a high school outcast caught up in Eve’s world.

The book has three artists, and the final one, Franc Czuba, is easily the best. The first couple of chapters are plagued by murky art that conveys the action, but doesn’t give us a real sense of character emotion. The third chapter has some strong moments, recalling Chris Bachalo, but isn’t consistent. The characters in the final chapter are more expressive, being able to see their faces instead of shadows makes it easier to empathize.

Unlike the other stories, Eve is only a peripheral character. The story centers on Teddy, a gothy high schoolers who’s hated by the “normal” kids and decides to use magic to get back at them. It sketches out a world efficiently and does a good job of humanizing some potentially stereotypical characters. By expanding the world of the series, the story gives an idea of how things could develop in a subsequent volume.

I think there are some major issues with the book, but there’s also some good stuff. Paired with the right artist, writer David Doub could help the series grow. The audience for this book is definitely out there, and hopefully he can get a boost from people wondering, “Where do I go after Twilight?”

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