"We have no time for such things, my father needs my love and care every second." - Count Cartorius
Your typical member of the undead blood sucking ranks sees his duty as ensuring his father, also a vampire, is kept in cotton wool 24/7. Dad, for his part, wants out from under the heavy helping hand and finds a vehicle for his freedom in one Al Jolson, the famed Actor/Dancer. Yes that Al Jolson. I'm not kidding, I just review around here. Anyways Dad learns how to dance via the tutelage of Jolson, but naturally his Son isn't happy with the arrangement and kills Al. Which is unfortunate as a Broadway opening night curtain is waiting, what to do? It's certainly a unique idea from the mind of Frank Candiloro, let's lift the lid on the coffin and take a peek inside.
Before hitting the review stride a brief moment of your time. Frank Candiloro is using the "undead" concept in its correct historic context. The "undead", via literature covering a few hundred years, always referred to vampires not zombies. Once again we have an example of surface dwellers taking a concept and twisting it out of shape as they fail completely in doing anything amounting to research, don't get me started on the misuse of the term "hacker" or the whole "final girl" fiasco. Just pointing out the "undead" thing, move along citizen nothing to see here.
[Editor's Note: And for further indepth musing on all things zombie look out for our indepth article series on the shamblers to be published shortly.]
Candiloro starts his graphic novel off in classic style, harking back to Bram Stoker's classic Dracula. We have a dude visiting a vampire castle, though it doesn't end nearly as well for him as it did for Jonathan Harker. From there Candiloro sizes up the vampire mythology, throws some of it into the mix, and then goes off on a couple of tangents to keep things interesting. Considering vampires have been done to death, no pun yadda yadda, it was refreshing to come across a script that had something new to add to the mix. Blood Across Broadway might be hitting the mondo bizarre path, but is doing so in highly entertaining fashion. While the graphic novel is certainly not in 30 Days of Night territory, it equally doesn't go anywhere near the shite storm that is Twilight.
Regular readers of Candiloro scripts will immediately recognise the modern monster motif that the Writer has going down. For anyone unaware of Candiloro's work, he has a long running comic strip that throws the standard Universal style antagonists into modern settings with normally hilarious results. Here, even though the setting would be the 1930s I guess, we have a similar aesthetic going down. Loved the Broadway aspect to things, which added to the whole mist shrouded castle tropes being thrown into the mix, we even get a "children of the night" refrain, though not quite in the same vein as regular Dracula devotees might expect.
So in essence the script, while following the standard vampire playbook, brings in Broadway musicals, overbearing children, and the concept of following your dreams regardless of the end result. While many Writers might be overstretching themselves to cover that pick and mix assortment, Candiloro has it covered without breaking stride.
Once again Candiloro goes with his almost trade mark German expressionist look to the artwork. All about angles, shadings, and keeping the panels uncluttered. You are either going to groove to the style of art going down, or should stick to Ginger Meggs in the local bin liner, no problems either way. For those who like to walk the wild side and dabble with something different then dial on in, it's an interesting blend that will certainly have you turning the pages and grooving to the beat being delivered. Candiloro seemingly dislikes using much if any white space in his panels, but doesn't clutter them up with meaningless bling either. I can almost guarantee that you won't have seen anything quite like the ink on display here, and yes it all adds to the feel and atmosphere going down. Be warned however, the style becomes addictive, you will be looking out for other works by Frank Candiloro after finishing this book.
While Blood Across Broadway is clearly Candiloro's most ambitious work to date, at no stage does he let his script, artwork, or general plot devices falter. It might have taken a while to get there, but Candiloro proves he can deliver a graphic novel to keep the home fires burning. Possibly the only downside to the book is that it doesn't venture into the dark heart of horror, we may be talking vampire blood suckers here, but the perspective is definitely from the undead end of the casket, thus removing any lingering hint of scare from the pages. I would reiterate, the dark genre is a large mansion, with plenty of room for differing approaches to its hidden walkways.
I'm more than pleased to receive a Frank Candiloro book on my review queue, one of those Writer/Artists who never cease to surprise with new works. Blood Over Broadway delivered the expected excellence. I'm always impressed with Candiloro's style, not enough of that expressionism mixed with gothic in the genre for mine, and have no problems recommending the new book to the Art lovers amongst us. Remembering here Warhol made popular culture cool, and the comic a legitimate art form. I would also recommend Blood Over Broadway to those who like to mix their dark intake up, or who normally don't dabble in the mean streets of horror. I would also add that this book might be just the thing for younger folk edging away from more mainstream material, who want to dip their toes in darker waters. Blood Over Broadway may not bite the hand that reads, but it certainly takes a nibble.
If after a copy of Blood Over Broadway then head on over to Frank Candiloro's website and follow the links to the online store. The comic will set you back $9, which I think everyone will agree presents as good value for money. Happy reading folks.