Story/Script by: Geoff Richards
Pencils by: Peter Habjan
Colors by: John Charles (Issue 1) ; Prasad Patnaik (Issue 2)
Letters by: Rob Jones
Cover by: Peter Habjan and A FAMOUS ARTIST TO BE NAMED LATER!
Publisher: Floating Rock Comics
Available: Issue 2 Coming Soon (February 7) on Kickstarter!
I have to admit, having watched the entirety of Buffy and Angel and read their related (and quite excellent) comics, watched the Lost Boys…well, enough times to have melted my original VHS tape to goo, lost myself in the dark and swampy N’awlins of Anne Rice for months I’ll never get (or want) back, marveled at Vampirella and her cast of characters and puzzled through Twilight and its related silliness (really? we needed sparkly nosferatu? where have you gone, Bram Stoker?!?), as well as all the various and sundry toothy goodness I’ve gorged myself on over the past few decades, I kinda figured I was well-sated on vampires and vamp-related stories.
But then in walks Geoff Richards, Peter Habjan and crew with their tale of cro-magnon bloodsuckers, and everything I thought I knew got flipped right upside-down…
Ok, so maybe not everything: sparkly vampires were never gonna work. And let’s be honest…I thought of at least seven other beloved vamp references while I was writing those last two sentences. Fact is, I’ll never get tired of the children of the night. Rest easy–you’re safe in my cupboard, Count Chocula.
Anyhow, in Herd, Richards, Habjan, Charles and Jones present us with an interesting—and heretofore unplumbed—take on the vampire genre: prehistoric undead. Like, paleontological, archaeological stuff. In pre-invention-of-the-wheel Pangea (yes, I realize I’m playing with science haphazardly here—but it’s a book about pre-historic vampires, fer cripe’s sake!), vampyrus has differentiated from sapiens—to the impending destruction of both. Rampant hunting and overindulgence of the predator has resulted in scarce population of the prey (the herd). A growing plague of the Crumbling, essentially, vampiric starvation, has taken root in the lower castes of vamp-kind, and rationing has begun. Tribal leaders have asserted strict limits and boundaries on hunting, and poachers are dealt with publicly and violently.
But is it enough?
Purtian, a pack leader of some influence, doesn’t think so…and so he sets about his “experiment,” seeking to sequester away a population of sapiens and begin a culling of the vampyrus to ensure the long-term survival of the species.
If you’ve seen Daybreakers with Ethan Hawke (and if you haven’t, you really, really should—one of the most underrated vamp movies in history, in this writer’s humble opinion), Herd has a similar plotline and vibe…just, you know, a few thousand years before. Conflict among the alpha race regarding the very real threat of species-wide, self-administered starvation, resistance from a small but determined group of betas, the appearance at any rate of a cadre of vamps supporting the sapiens in order to guarantee their own survival…all the makings of a solid read.
And while Richards presents us more than said solid read, his dialogue offering everything it needs to in terms of setting up the tension and conflicts of the story, and the interesting mirroring of the male-led vampyrus juxtaposed against the female-led sapiens, Habjan sells it with his art. His forms and lines remind us that these are not fully developed homo sapiens and homo vampyrus (?), but rather figures of a far-previous age. It takes a little getting used to: these are not Adam Hughes sex ba-bombs or even Frank Cho jungle girls (and guys)—they’re some stage apace north of homo erectus, but a bit south of you and me. And Spike, and Lestat.
Charles’ colors are solid throughout; not overpowering, but vivid and lifelike where need be and sufficient to provide us differentiation among the different settings, camps and castes within each. Interestingly (and I’m going to guess intentionally), the sapien camp is far more richly colored, full of…well…life than the vampyrus camp, which is all in washed-out browns and yellows (befitting not just of their status as undead, but the toll the Crumbling is taking on them). Jones’ letters are clean and fluid; he gets to play from time to time with shapes and sounds within the artwork, and generally scores well. All in all, a well-put-together first issue effort, and worth the read.
Which all leads to a nice heap of promise for Issue 2.
Which, by the way, will feature an awesome cover by a super-famous but super-top-secret great artist whose name I’m not gonna spoil.
“Ok, ok, great—it’s a swell book, I should run out and buy it…but is this really the prehistory of all vampdom? Will Purtian’s plan work? Is this how the vampires of Stoker, Rice and King evolve—surviving in the shadows and only letting the sapiens THINK they’ve achieved alpha-level mastery?”
Good question. Crap if I know—back the Kickstarter for Issue 2, and find out for yourself!
The Kickstarter for Herd, Issue 2, by Geoff Richards, Peter Habjan, new colorist Prasad Patnaik and Rob Jones (from which I imagine you’ll have the chance to pick up Issue 1 as well) goes live February 7. You can follow link to their Kickstarter Countdown here.
Now, what did I do with that Lost Boys blu ray…
Score: 11 (of 13)
Review by Andy Patch, thePullbox.com