George R. R. Martin's Fevre Dream

A comic review article by: Felicity Gustafson
You know, the entire time I spent reading this book, I had that horrible “I’m on a Boat” song by The Lonely Island stuck in my head. As you could probably guess, yes, this story mostly takes place on a boat called the Fevre Dream. So despite the fact that I’m not a fan of the song, I had this ludicrous image of vampires singing the song throwing gang symbols on the deck of the Fevre Dream. It shows how today’s pop culture has affected us all, but at least it was entertaining for awhile. Not that that image should dissuade you from reading the book at all; it’s about as far from the plot line as it can get. If you have a problem with slavery or the way life really was in the southern United States around the 1800s, I'd suggest you not read this one. I have to hand it to the writers, they did a good job keeping the historic facts straight to give the reader a little taste of what life back then was like.

Fevre Dream is an adaptation of a book by George R. R. Martin that revolves around vampires, set back in the 1800s on the Mississippi river. Luckily for all the vampire fans out there, these vampires don’t sparkle. As with all vampire books, there’s the evil vampire bent on destroying human kind, Damon Julian, and the vampire who wants to save the humans, Joshua. Abner Marsh is a rather unlikely hero though. He plays the part of the human siding with Joshua to save his species, but he is neither attractive nor charismatic. In fact, there are several instances where he’s called a fat, warty man. He’s a far cry from the handsome princes that come to save the day, right? Despite his ugly appearance, Marsh’s character turned out to be quite lovable. He has a good set of morals, and while he definitely not perfect and doesn’t manage to always follow them, he tries his hardest to do what he considers to be right. As does Joshua, though the white knight vampire is a little more lenient with himself when he slips up and gives into his bloodlust.

With this book, there’s a clear line of right and wrong. The bad guy is always wrong, and generally crazy. The good guy always does the right thing. There’s an older standard that’s lacking in most of the newer series. Nowadays it seems to be cool to be in the gray area -- to be the good guy who kills people or the bad guy who’s just misunderstood. There’s none of that in the Fevre Dream. They even go so far as to keep the color scheme; Joshua’s very pale with white blond hair and blue eyes and Julian’s, while still pale due to vampiric properties, got darker, longer hair that you would normally picture on an evil vampire.

I know you’re looking at the picture above thinking to yourself, “are those wolves?!” Yes, indeed. One of the nice things about this book are the vampirism myth rules. Anybody who’s interested in vampires knows that every book you pick up might include a different set of rules the vampires have to follow. Can they stand sunlight? Do they sparkle? Can they stand garlic? Fire? Running water? Well, almost everyone has already heard of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, you’ll know that they have to sleep with the soil of their homeland, they can’t cross running water, they burn, they shapeshift, crosses hurt, etc. The rules for this book are the same as Bram Stoker’s. That being said, it’s rather nice to see some old school vampires for a change!

The artwork was rather decent; a little more colorful than what I’m used to in a gothic novel. Usually there are dark tones with splotches of random color and a scratchy quality to the drawing, but that’s definitely not the case with Fevre Dream. There's a bold use of color with a considerable amount of detail. Even certain things like the progression of years was taken into consideration. Whereas Captain Marsh aged rather gracefully, considering his unattractiveness from the start, but Sour Billy aged horrendously, left twisted with only a few strands of hair on his head. Again, it was a little too vibrant -- I would've taken the color scheme down a notch to hit home that this is a dark tale about vampires in the 1800s. They could've made it a little more mysterious or evil looking; something to hit home that ultimately this is a horror story. They did do a very good job depicting the slaughter on the boat at one point, but that was really the only thing that sparked my interest in the art as a lover of the horror genre.

Overall, it was a decent read. It definitely gets points in my book for sticking by the old set of vampire rules and I did enjoy the realism of how Marsh, despite his main character status, was not some gorgeous prince on a grandiose boat trying to save the world. Granted, I haven't read George R. R. Martin's book, but after reading the comic adaptation, I'm seriously considering it. Anyone who likes history, especially around the New Orleans or Mississippi area, would probably like this book too. Fevre Dream is one of those stories that doesn't pull its punches. It hits the reader in the face with a dash of historic realism and says it like it was. Of course it helps that the vampires didn't sparkle either.

Felicity Gustafson was born in Ohio and, after the astounding realization that there was more to do than look at trees and cows, she decided to become a nerd and got into comics, anime and video games. New to Comics Bulletin, she sticks mostly to reviewing things out of the horror and comedy genres. She spends most of her time working in the manufacturing industry, finishing her computer degree and steadfastly avoiding ham fat at all costs.

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