Strangeways: The Thirsty
Matt Maxwell

Graphic Novel
Review by Darkeva

I usually don’t like Westerns; not most of them anyway. My dad on the other hand – well, let’s just say that he could be a filmographer for John Wayne with no trouble. I should perhaps also clarify that I don’t usually enjoy straight Westerns, with few exceptions such as The Quick and the Dead, but even when characters on a television show travel back to the Old West, I don’t get into it. However, if there are supernatural elements at play – say, a combination of a vampire story with a Western setting, I tend to be more open to taking a second look. I’m also a huge fan of graphic novels, which is why I’m glad I had the chance to review Strangeways: The Thirsty, a graphic novel by Matt Maxwell, which is basically Dracula in a Western setting – fangs at high noon.

The way the story is broken out is well-organized and easy to follow. Collins is a gunslinger who comes to Drytown to find it’s a death trap. The head vampire, Raphael De Medina, controls his vampire minions and battles Collins; on his side is the Engineer, a man of Spanish descent who knows how to kill vampires. Guns and regular bullets don’t work on them. Neither does silver. But sunlight, holy water, crosses, garlic-those things all work, and a few well-timed explosions also do the trick.

It’s a fast-paced story that reads as though it’s a television miniseries. The dialogue is great, and thankfully not too heavily inflected with an exaggerated Western accent, nor do the characters of Spanish backgrounds speak in a stereotypical manner (also a bonus), and the ending is jam-packed with a great resolution and the chance for Collins’s story to continue.

The last section of the graphic novel highlights De Medina’s origins, how he became a vampire, why he became the way he did (to a certain extent), and it was like an Easter egg or bonus feature on a DVD. Though the artwork is also great and keeping it in black and white doesn’t detract from the final product, it’s sometimes hard to differentiate De Medina and Collins in the frames as their garb is quite similar and both wear oversized hats. Despite that, it’s a wonderful combination of vampires and Westerns, and makes the perfect reading recommendation for that reader you know who wishes that Deadwood would have vampires.

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