American Vampire

American Vampire

by Stephen King

The series explores notions of vampire evolution and traces the bloodline of a new kind of vampire, The first story arc (issues #1–5) features two story arcs. The first takes place in 1925 from the point of view of an aspiring actress in L.A. who becomes the second American Vampire and works to get her revenge on those who turned her. The second is of a writer at a book conference due to the reediting of his book, Bad Blood. Here, the author claims that his work- which has been long considered a fictional western/terror story- is actually based on true events which he has either witnessed or has collected reliable information on.

Issue #1

'Big Break' The first part takes place in July 1925 and introduces Pearl Jones, an aspiring young actress who is narrating the action as, apparently, a freshly murdered corpse. Pearl is apparently telling how she saw her first motion picture when she was eight and it started her on a career into the movies. At the moment, however, Pearl has been thrown by a hooded figure on top of a pile of other attractive young starlets in a ditch in the desert, thirty miles east outside of Los Angeles. However, right before the scene change, Pearl very weakly murmurs that she is still alive.

Cut to three days before with Pearl and her friend and roommate, Hattie Hargrove, where she is finishing the story she was telling in the first panels. The two are working as extras and soon begin chatting about the acting industry and the opportunity to work with an established Hollywood star, Mr. Chase Hamilton. Later, Pearl and Hattie are arriving their boarding house when they encounter an as-of-then unnamed squatter basking in the sunlight. Apparently, this is the third day in a row he has returned. Pearl says to Hattie she will call the police if she finds him squatting again. Pearl is shown to be working as cigarette girl in a speak easy to afford extra money. Afterwards as she heads out at dawn to a third job she has, she meets up with a friend, Henry Preston, who also works there as a musician, playing guitar in the band. The two discuss each other's lives, with Henry revealing he was once a "Gentleman Wayfarer" (or as Pearl calls it, "a Hobo") and Pearl revealing she has a tattoo of a sunflower on her back she had gotten on a drunken dare from Hattie and got it because her father used to grow them on his farm. Henry then asks Pearl to join him at the beach on the Fourth of July, which she agrees to if he will tell her more "spicy" stories about his travelling days. Later, back at the set of the Chase Hamilton film, Pearl assists in getting the lighting right for a scene and Mr. Hamilton himself asks Pearl to join him at an industry party at the home of a Mr. B.D. Bloch, a very famous movie producer, who is also doing their movie.

Back at home, Pearl and Hattie get ready for the event and the squatter sits by the pool. We then see his face for the first time as a handsome man in his mid-thirties with blue eyes and long blonde hair. He then gives her a warning about the people she is partying with, mentioning he's "old acquaintances" with Bloch, is apparently in town to finish some "business" with him, and that Bloch and his European friends are not the type of people she wants to be around. Pearl ignores him and she and Hattie head to the party, with the squatter mentioning that she'll be kicking herself in the morning. The second they arrive at the party, they marvel at the mansion and the congregation of stars there (though Pearl states it's strange that for a big-time producer, Bloch doesn't have any memorabilia). Hattie then mentions that Pearl really inspires her because Pearl does not give up on her dreams, while Pearl says that she thinks everyday about getting a ticket and going back home, but then mentions that she manages to keep from doing that by remembering good things that have happened, like meeting Hattie and the sights and sounds of L.A. The two then separate and Chase ushers Pearl away from the party and into a private room. There she finds Bloch and expects be introduced as an up-and-coming actress. Instead, she finds Bloch with several other men staring at her menacingly. They reveal themselves as vampires and pounce on Pearl.

'Bad Blood' The second story opens with author Will Bunting retelling the story of the novel he had written. He starts his story with Jim Book in the town of Sidewinder, Colorado in 1880, having just caught the notorious criminal Skinner Sweet (who is shown to be the very same squatter from the first arc) after the outlaw had been on a thieving and murdering rampage through the west. They are riding on a train that takes them through the boom town situated around the profitable and dry goldmines that dotted the west. Book has been working for the Pinkerton Agency with Deputy Felix Camillo to bring Skinner in for the edification of worried foreign investors. One of the investors is named Percy, a man with a singular allergy to the sun. Working under him is a man named Finch who is a middle man facilitating the investments made by Percy and his partners. Bunting is also shown to be along for the ride as a journalist writing a story about the capture.

In return for a peppermint stick, Skinner tells Book about the robbery that led to his capture and where he hid the money that Sweet and his gang took off of Percy, during which it's shown he'd killed a three-year-old boy in the shootout of the bank he and his gang were robbing. Using the peppermint stick to pick the locks on his chains, Skinner escapes and takes Felix hostage. Unknown to Book, Skinner's gang is waiting outside to ambush the train as it heads into the mountains. As Skinner threatens to kill Camillo, his waiting gang springs their trap, blowing the train off the track and giving Skinner the chance to escape. Book catches up with Skinner before he can get away and as the two of them struggle, Sweet informs Book that he has murdered the lawman's fiancée, Ella Langum, with a bottle of poisoned wine he made seem like it was from Book.

Book flies into a rage and a gun fight ensues ending with Book bleeding on the ground. Skinner turns to see Percy challenging him with no gun and Skinner Sweet and his gang gun the man down. However, Percy does not stay dead, but rather rises up, barring his vampiric fangs and attacking Skinner by tearing into his throat. Skinner shoots Percy in the face, but not before Percy lands a fatal blow. However, some of Percy's blood finds its way into Skinner's eyes. Percy walks away a bit worse for wear, but still alive and healing rapidly as Skinner's gang runs away into the sunrise. Unfortunately, he is unaware that Skinner has been infected with a vampiric strain, nor does he know that Bunting had secretly watched the whole thing from a hiding place behind a rock. Book, Bunting, Camillo, and Finch all walk away from the wrecked train unaware that Skinner is on the precipice of rising from the dead as the first American vampire. Bunting then states that that night, he started writing what would become his highly successful novel, "Bad Blood." He also mentions Skinner's story was just beginning.

Issue #2

'Morning Star' The second issue starts back in 1925 with Henry and Hattie finding Pearl missing when they go to check on her (also, we learn from a broadcast from Pearl's turned on radio that "Bad Blood" has been turned into a serial which is on its second episode, thereby breaking the fourth wall). The two of them head out to find her and discover to their horror a pale, bloody and nearly nude Pearl wandering alone in the desert. They take her to the hospital and the doctors inform Hattie and Henry that she's on the brink of death from blood loss and covered in animal bites, urging them to alert her family. This news devastates them and Hattie even begs for them to take her blood for transfusion, which the doctors state wouldn't help as her body's already shutting down. Later that evening, as Fourth of July fireworks go off outside, Pearl and Hattie's squatter -now known to be Skinner Sweet- climbs in through the window into Pearl's hospital room, declares his disgust at Bloch and, just before Pearl dies, gives her some of his blood by kissing her with a bloody lip on an opened eye. Pearl then has a nightmare of her as a girl playing in her father's sunflowers before seeing her father with a scythe who states he was looking for her before revealing large fangs and yellow eyes and hisses at her. Pearl then wakes up in the morgue. Disoriented and afraid by all the dead bodies (one of which is labeled "Jack Torrance," most likely as a shout-out to co-writer Stephen King whose novel, "The Shining's" main character shared the name) and flees home where she finds Skinner Sweet waiting for her. Skinner tells her she is a vampire and that Bloch and his coven are a part of a different and older breed, that Skinner's breed is powered by sunlight, and promptly leaves Pearl to her vengeance. After Skinner leaves Pearl finds that he has left a gift for her in the closet in the form of a tied up Chase Hamilton. Eventually after recalling the details Pearl butchers Hamilton and leaves his drained corpse in his dressing room.

Deep Water

Back in the 1880s the author Will Bunting continues the story of Skinner Sweet and James Book. We find Skinner Sweet in the ground and James Book in a coma with Felix Camillo watching over him. When Book wakes up Felix tells him that Ella, Book's wife, has died from the poison that Skinner sent her. Book promptly finds Skinner's grave and pisses on it, unfortunately Skinner is shown to be not so dead.

Later Percy meets with his coven of European vampires to talk about Skinner Sweet. The vampires believe that Percy might have made a mistake by letting his blood infect Skinner Sweet, since this created a new breed to threaten their supremacy. They plan to eliminate the threat by flooding the town Skinner's buried in, believing he shares their weakness of being unable to rise underwater.

Meanwhile, James Book, Felix Camillo, and Will Bunting ride towards Felix's father, as the elder Camillo is responsible for Skinner's apprehension and they believe his gang will seek revenge. After visiting his Wife Ella's Grave Book and his crew head to stop Skinner's gang, while Skinner now a vampire dines on rats in his grave. At this point the town where Skinner is buried is flooded, while Book hunts down Skinner's gang, shooting arresting or hanging each and every one of them until he can stomach it no longer.

The years pass and by 1886 Felix is married, has a pregnant wife, and has given up his violent ways...mostly. In 1888 Will Bunting finishes his book "Bad Blood" and gives it to James Book to read, and in 1890 Felix's wife gives birth to Abilena, but dies during the process. Meanwhile, at Skinner's watery grave a couple of ambitious treasure hunters venture down into the deep to find artifacts connected to the famous killer.

Rough Cut

Double Exposure

Set in Los Angeles, providing a brief account of the meeting between Hattie and Pearl, and then Hattie's later betrayal of Pearl in the service of the vampiric Old World movie moguls. Hattie appears down on her luck as she rewards Pearl's kindness to her (she ignored a filched donut) with cinema tickets. This BFF motif makes the rest of the action in this section particularly poignant as Pearl is lured out on a moonless night to "rescue" Hattie. In reality, Hattie literally stabs her in the back as part of a deal to make Hattie a starlet. Bloch's intention is to imprison Pearl to discover the vulnerabilities of the American strain. She escapes with the help of her paramour, Henry, who lets her feed on him. As the issue closes, Henry expresses a wish to join Pearl in her battle (he is ex USMC), and stay with her through thick and thin.

One Drop of Blood

Devil in the Sand

The second story arc (issues #6–9) follows the chief of police, a man named Cashel McCogan, of Las Vegas in 1936. Taking the name Jim Smoke, Skinner Sweet has set himself up as one of the infant city of Las Vegas' up and coming mobsters. He owns a bordello that McCogan and the FBI interrogate him in while on the hunt for who (or what) has been killing local business men.

Ghost War

The third story arc takes place in the 1940s, during World War II. (There is also a mini-series featuring Felicia Book that takes place during this era). Under the orders of The Vassals of the Morning Star, Henry joins a mission to investigate a vampire threat in the Pacific, with an appearance from Skinner.

The Beast in the Cave

Occurs back in the 19th century before Skinner was a criminal and Book became a lawman.

Skinner Sweet and Jim Book are revealed to be adolescent friends living on the Book family farm. Skinner's family has recently been murdered and their livelihood a mint farm has been burned to the ground. The boys develop a friendship and Book recognizes that there's no one Book feels safer with than Skinner. There's an allusion to the Yankee forces having burned down Skinner's ancestral farm, While the two boys are playing the find a rattle snake burrow and Skinner pulls the snake out bare handed. Later, Young James book returns to the snake's burrow and sets it ablaze. Later, in 1871, Skinner and Book are "Indian fighters" in the US Military, and are part of an attack on a group of Apaches.

The Apaches have come to this particular place because their leader is searching for Mimiteh, goddess of death. The leader is the scar-faced Apache, Hole in the Sky, who believes that Mimiteh is the key to annihilating the white man and returning the plains to the Apache's hands.

Corporal Skinner Sweet believes that the Apache are preparing an ambush, when he and Corporal Book capture a young Apache and Skinner slices off his ears for information, his worries are ambiguously confirmed. Back at the cave Hole in the sky finds Mimiteh. When Hole in the Sky begs Mimiteh to attack the white man she is revealed to be the original American Vampire.

Mimteh tries to reason with Hole in the Sky by telling him how she became a vampire. She tells him about how her French husband Ettienne sold her to two European travelers, whom she leads through the Northern wilderness like Sacajawea. She finds them slaughtering a bear, revealing themselves as vampires. They chase her down and maul her badly. However the Lewis and Clark vampires were unaware that two hunters were tracking them, and right after Mimiteh was bled dry the hunters slaughtered the vampires. Mimiteh survives because of her immunity to wood and her ability to feed on sunlight as an American bred Nosferatu, and she rises and travels home, but Ettienne is long gone so she returns to her tribe.

Mimiteh is overcome by vampiric hunger upon arrival, and slaughters every man, woman, and child in the tribe. Feeling remorse she seals herself into the mountain cave. Unfortunately Hole in the sky ignores Mimiteh's story and attacks her with a hatchet and consumes her blood.

Back at the camp Skinner recognizes the danger and attempts to track down the Apache on his own, planning to catch them off-guard. He ignites the brush around the camp in the hopes of burning them to death. The next morning Lieutenant Hawley finds Skinner missing and takes Book into custody. He charges Book with desertion and demands to know Skinner's' whereabouts. Eventually Book finds himself facing a firing squad, while Hole in the Sky has returned to face his troops and show them his transformation into a powerful, horrific beast. He rallies the troops and they prepare to attack but right before they do Mimiteh returns and attacks.

Right before Hawley can carry out Book's execution Skinner arrives, guns drawn. Skinner walks over confidently and reminds Hawley's men of the danger of the Apache on the mountain. The men hesitate and when they do Hawley draws on Skinner but Skinner is a faster shot. When asked why he's murdered the Lieutenant, Skinner replies that he's promoted himself while sucking on a peppermint stick. Skinner leaves Book tied to a tree after informing Book of his plan turn the natives, men, women, and children, alive.

Mimiteh blames the Apache for interrupting her solitude and attacks them. When Skinner arrives the Apache have been slaughtered. Book finally breaks free and catches up with Skinner, expecting to find his friend killing Apaches, but finds Skinner by bodies that have been butchered and not burned. When Book admits that Skinner was right about the number of Apaches waiting ambush Skinner implies he had been guessing all along.

Death Race

A short arc set in the 1950s that focuses on a young vampire hunter named Travis Kidd. Travis has been tracking a group of vampires, including Skinner, to the suburbs where he believes they have been holing up.