Independence Week: Day 5 – Day For Night and Beware the Sabre-Toothed Vampire

All this week we will be celebrating the true spirit of independence with self-published comics.    These brave men and women have broken free of their corporate masters and have taken on all the risks and responsibilities of publishing their own books.  Some will be successful.  Some will not.  But all represent the true spiriti of independence!

And here we are. The final day of our look at self-published comics. Today we are taking a look at not one, but two self-published books. The first, Day For Night is by Matthew Southworth, the artist of Stumptown. The second, Beware the Sabre-Toothed Vampire is by Mike Russel, whose Sabre-Toothed Vampire books are soon to be collected by Dark Horse!

Day For Night is the first peek at Southworth’s long-gestating comic set in Pittsburgh of the 1930′s. It is a dark and gritty tale about desperate life and daring choices at the dawn of the depression and the throws of Prohibition. Day For Night is not the opening scene of the book, but it does give a good feel for how the book should feel when Sotuthworth completes it.

The book is split in two parts. The first is a scene involving a young boy and a man on the streets of Pittsburgh. Their narratives mix, mingle, and overlap in a dance of cat and mouse that mirrors their lives and backstories. Southworth proves that he is not just a great artist, but also a skilled storyteller.

The second half of the book is a tangled jumble of prose that Southworth leaves for the reader to figure out. Part auto-biography, part historical fantasy, the words delve deep in to the soul of Pittsburgh and reveal much about Southworth as well.

Day for Night is a deeply personal work for Southworth. He has dedicated much of his “free” time to this project. This is the story he wants to tell. Or maybe this is the story he needs to tell. Either way, Day for Night is something special.

Day For Night is a convention exclusive available anywhere Southworth is appearing. There has been one volume published so far, and another is due out later this year. It is not clear if these stories will end up in the finished book, or if they will simply serve as an exercise to find the true heart of the story.

You can keep track of Southworth at his website.

And now for something completely different!

Beware the Sabre-Toothed Vampire is a gag comic by Mike Russel. It chronicles the ongoing misadventures of a vampire whose fangs are longer than its body. As one can imagine, this makes it difficult for the vampire to do much of anything. In fact, the titular vampire spends much of his time with his teeth stuck firmly in the ground!

The real joy of the book comes not from the vampire himself, but how the rest of the world reacts to a vampire whose fangs are stuck in the ground. Some people find him hilarious. Some find him pathetic. And some are willing to go to great lengths to make sure that he is a comfortable and fearsome as possible.

At 24 pages, the book is just about the right length. I’m not sure how much more I could read before the joke begins to get stale. However, as a coffee-table-type book (one that is left on the table and thumbed through as opposed to being read from cover to cover) a longer collection of the Sabre-Toothed Vampire stories would be a great addition to most living rooms.

The Sabre-Toothed Vampire is appearing sporadically in Dark Horse Presents ahead of its eventual collection. You can check out Sabre-Toothed Vampire comics on Mike Russel’s site as well as purchase collections directly from him.

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