The publicity material accompanying review copies of
Life Sucks, the vampire melodrama from First Second, advertises the novel as "a satiric vampire story that crosses
Buffy and the Vampire Slayer (sic) with
Life Sucks has little in common with these pop culture classics. It has none of the deep insights of
Buffy or the sheer lunacy of
Clerks, and little of their snappy and literate dialogue. This is a story about boredom and alienation that is, well, boring.
Life Sucks features Dave, a young convenience store clerk and vampire whose boss is also his vampire master. Dave is in love with Rosa, a mortal with romantic visions of becoming a vampire, which she imagines is a speedy route to an uncomplicated life of elegance and beauty. However, another vampire, blonde surfer dude Wes also fancies Rosa, and Wes has looks and money. Can Dave win Rosa? Does it matter? This story works best as metaphor, where the society of vampire immortals symbolizes the unpleasant life of wage slavery to demanding bosses, in which every single shift feels like an eternity. Abel and Soria don't show a way out, however, leaving a flat feeling and a bleak aftertaste.
Warren Pleece's art does much more to engage the metaphor than the writing does. The art is bold, favoring the deep dark colors of Goth culture and nightlife. It moves the story along, conveying sudden gestures, powerful emotions, flirtation, despair, anger and violence all with equal strength. It varies little from page to page, the unrelenting march of dark nights, dark rooms and dark clothes all conspiring to create a sense of oppression, a feeling common to wage slaves everywhere. A scene on the beach in which Rosa describes the vampire life of her dreams provides a brief respite, softening the otherwise harshly strong lines of character and setting, as dreams often soften harsh realities.
I had trouble seeing the humor in this novel, and winced at the stereotypical portrayals of Romanian immigrants. The protagonists seemed whiny, and the ending did not leave me hoping for more. Is it possible that I'm just feeling too old or too humorless to love this book? Post a comment and tell us what you think.