The overdone vampire genre has been explored so many times it's almost getting to the point where 'Blood Latte' might show up on the Starbucks menu to promote the new Anne Rice book. In order to stand out among bland competition, a vampire work must be created with its own… biting originality? (no more bad puns, promise.) Bite Me, by Dylan Meconis, is an online comic book that dares to break new ground by adding modern wit, toothy sarcasm (sorry), and a little gore to a genre that often takes itself way to seriously.
The story focuses on the pointy-nosed bar wench, Claire, who accidentally gets brought into the world of vampires by a very slick and charming sire, Lucien. Upon becoming a Vampire, Claire proves to be anything but what Lucien, or any sane vampire could have expected. Lucien often finds himself having to tame Claire's newfound bloodlust and vampire powers. Unlike the horror flick, Queen of the Damned, this story stays on the lighter comedic side of the Pro-Vampire argument.
Its humorous tone is a nice contrast to the macabre events that the main characters often experience. No new vampire myths are created here, but the plot uses the traditional lore and popular knowledge of the genre to poke fun at how serious these 'authentic' vamps try to be when faced with a generation of silly young upstarts. The jokes are smart and the storyline is never too complex – a reader could jump in at any time and easily find their bearings. But since the story is divided into chapters with gorgeous cover pin ups, who would want to start in the middle?
Meconis's artwork is rewardingly simple and shines out artistically among other comedic, genre based webcomics that often concentrate too hard on excessive detail. The smart use of gray tones — mostly strong blacks and pencil shading — becomes the artistic saving grace. These tones add more dimensional substance to the otherwise depth-lacking linework, also serving to evoke a sense of mystery and classical darkness that a vampire story should have — which creates a nice apposition to the comedy of the story. Props to Meconis for her attention to detail of background elements, creating a strong period atmosphere from the get-go.
There are a few elements of the artwork that have yet to reach their fullest potential. While anatomy may not be always in proportion, the cartoon elements of the art are strong enough to forgive any slight obscurity. The designs of the characters themselves are not especially complex, and often tend to start looking very similar in facial structure and expressions. As the story progresses, the range of emotional facial positions becomes strongly iconic and repetitive — apparently, Claire only has so many mouth shapes she can make. Supporting characters in the comic are often a welcome break from the missing pie slice open mouths of Claire and Lucien.
Aside from this lack of diversity through the main characters' facial structure, the execution of the artwork, as well as that of page layouts, works very well. The commitment to detail and consistency is excellent, and the characters, however androgynous they might appear at times, do convey their own personalities with well-written wit and banter. Overall, you don't have to love or hate vampires, or the Seventeenth century, to sink your teeth into this one (whoops… sorry!).