Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

The Vampire Brat

Vampire BratThe Vampire Brat and other tales of Supernatural Law by Batton Lash

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It's amazing the things you'll find when you read book reviews. A lot of times, I get so used to reading reviews of the latest mystery, thriller, or romance, that I forget that the people who work for Booklist and Library Journal will focus on other genres on occasion. Recently, they looked at graphic novels, and an unusual collection called Supernatural Law caught my attention. This isn't the same book for which I read the review, but it's the same author, and the same series.

Supernatural Law is an ongoing series about Alanna Wolff and Jeff Byrd, two lawyers who specialize in defending those of us among society who really need it — vampires, werewolves, mummies, and the like. It's an interesting premise, and of course, since it's horror-related, I had to read it. The gimmick alone wouldn't be enough to carry it, of course, but it caught my attention, none the less. I'm pleased to say, though, that Batton Lash pulls together the stories with a sense of realism carried through his characters and dialogue. The only thing unusual about this firm is its clients, but even they act like normal people, and are treated as such by the humans in the firm. One of my favorite scenes is a single panel where the secretary at the firm tells a mummy, "I'm sorry, Pharaoh … but we just can't accept tanna leaves as payment! Maybe you could hock some of your girlfriend's jewels…."

This book collects a handful of single issues from the regular run of Supernatural Law, and it tells the stories of Buford, a half-blood vampire who's being defended against a school-age vampire killer, a party thrown for the clients that is interrupted by a time-traveler, Vincente Preiss, a man who started dealing in souls on the black market, and Hank, a pre-teen boy with an overpowering mother. The stories are both serious and silly at the same time, and Lash doesn't hesitate to throw in a pastiche here and there (aside from Vincente Preiss, there's also Ally McGraugh, and "Hank Smash!" thrown in for good measure).

It's hard to identify Lash's influences, but there's definitely some inspiration taken from the Archie comics, as Mavis, the secretary for Wolff and Byrd, strongly resembles Betty and Veronica. He has a clean writing style, and a straightforward style of illustrating (they appear to be pen-and-ink; the book is published in black and white). His stories are clear and concise, and cover the clients' cases, as well as some romantic subplots along the way, and the humor is reminiscent of Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman. This book could easily have been a collection of short stories in the narrative sense, but the humor would have been less effective through straight narrative. Shoot, the book is introduced by Will Eisner, one of Lash's art instructors from the day, so that should tell you something.

This is just a fun book, and I look forward to reading more by Lash. If you're into horror, humor, and comics, I'd recommend it to you.

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June 9, 2006 - Posted by | Adult Fiction, Graphic Novels

1 Comment »

  1. I’ve since discovered that Batton Lash has a webcomic for Wolff and Byrd, and that it’s updated twice a week:

    http://www.webcomicsnation.com/supernaturallaw/

    This is a good place to get started on this great series.

    Comment by Isaac | June 17, 2006 | Reply


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