Making monsters for children is an easy enough prospect to do. Cute vampires, cute werewolves all while adding in a spooky twinge is the order of the day with Vamplets, the new comedy-horror series from Action Lab Comics, written by Gayle Middleton and Dave Dwonch and illustrated by Amanda Coronado with Bill Blankenship.
When the magical and mysterious vampyre births in Gloomvania become too hard to deal with, Mr. G, the Grim Reaper, calls for help from the outside world because none of the adults in the world have the 777 years of free time to raise a vampyre baby. It is definitely an interesting idea about parenting – what if it took 777 years till your kids could act like adults.
Somewhat forcibly enlisted into the role is mortal teenage Destiny Harper who is excited about the prospect of a nighttime job that pays, unaware of what she is getting into. Stuck with 7 babies and teamed up with a giant stink-less stinkbug named Rasket, she’ll have to use her intelligence to take care of the babies, because while the parents don’t want to raise their babies themselves, they are deadly serious about them being raised correctly.
Artistically the book reminds me of the Marathon Production’s action cartoon style used in Martin Mystery and Totally Spies – whispy and very emotive characters. With that said though, character designs serve to easily move the story along – the werewolves and vampyres are all obviously werewolves and vampyres with hairy doglike features and pale skin and fangs respectively. After dealing with a few children’s series where the vampyres and werewolves look human most of the time with no defining features, I can respect that choice. There is also a nice amount of diversity in looks with the background characters that add personality to people who only exist for a moment.
The series also does an excellent job using the color palette to differentiate the worlds. Destiny’s non-work clothes are pale and drab compared to every other normal person around her so when she gets to Gloomvania, she fits in. It was a smart and simple thing to do that a number of all ages, and even adult, comics forget to do. The book works well artistically.
Writing-wise, the book isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but for younger readers, and especially female ones, this comic can be a fantastic find. Destiny isn’t overly bothered by the gross things she has to deal with and she’s a strong female role model. She makes mistakes but works to fix them, she uses her intelligence to solve issues and she is ready to work hard and take initiative. The fact that she dresses like a teenager could, is also nice – as is the fact that she looks like a teenager (one of the problems in all ages books).
The story is still building but based on the first two issues, Vamplets could be a lot of fun for you and your children, especially if you want them to grow up knowing classic monsters. Vamplets will be released from Action Lab Comics in September. You can pre-order it here.