Those of you with a massively long memory might recognise Mikey and Veil. After Mittens & Snowdrop they were the next characters to appear on my animation site. They were never animated, they just sat on either side of the logo. I think they were there for about the first six months… But this was about five years ago!

I’ve been going through lots of vampire related things recently, triggered by watching the superb Russian vampire movie Night Watch (UK link US link). Forget about films like Blade, this is very much a European story of vampires, with manipulation and characters as the focus of the narrative. Saying that though, it has some of the most inventive use of CGI that I’ve seen on film. It has already been slated for an American remake (which will, of course, be rubbish as Hollywood remakes always are) but this is made even more pointless than usual by the simple fact that it has possibly the best English language dub that I’ve ever heard. The actors sound like the original cast, and they all have Russian accents, which allows the film to continue to have a sense of location even when not viewed in the original Russian. There are few films that I would suggest watching with the dub turned on the first time through, but with the lush visuals it’s a shame to flick your eyes down even for a moment.

Like the novel, it’s the first of a trilogy, so I am really looking forward to the next two. The novel Night Watch (UK link US link) came out in the UK at around the same time as the film. After enjoying the film so much I thought I’d give it a try. As is often the case with novels of films, it explains the mythology of the universe in a lot more depth, and you can really see where the film got its sense of creativity from: the novel bristles with interesting ideas. It’s occasionally a bit slow going, and once again don’t expect a standard ‘horror’ novel. It has vampires in it, but in many ways it can also be read as being about a country ten years into embracing capitalism and democracy, and the ideological struggles that are still faced there (it was written in 1998)… Or you could just enjoy it as a bit of pulpy fun!

This has spurred me on, so now I’m reading I Am Legend (UK link US link) by Richard Matheson. It’s about the last surviving man, surrounded and taunted nightly by vampires but hunting them by day. The novel was written in 1954 and, apparently, was the first to portray vampirism as a form of virus or disease, a motif that has been used in nearly every vampire story from the past twenty five years. It was way ahead of its time, and the writing style is a little dated, but mostly very easy going. I’m very interested to see where he goes with the story: how do you give a satisfactory ending to a one-man quest for survival? Incidentally, so far it’s proving to be a master-class in how to construct a narrative and maintain interest, so if you’re interested in the art of writing I suggest you pick it up.

Finally, while drawing the Trouble Down Pit strips I’ve had a small window open at the bottom of the screen playing Ultraviolet (UK link US link), the excellent UK Channel 4 six-part series starring Jack Davenport and Susannah Harker (no relation to Jonathan or Mina!). This takes on vampirism as a disease (thank you I Am Legend) and builds a long-running global conspiracy from it. It’s a superb treatment of an interesting problem: what does happen when you have immortals who see that their food source now has the capacity to destroy itself in an instant? How would the government organise a response to a vampiric threat? It’s especially refreshing to watch at the moment because it was made pre-September 11th 2001, so the terrorist implications are not laid on heavily as they have been in nearly every other form of media since then.

So… Vampire stuff. Yay!

Enjoy the strip, see you Friday!