Vampires the Masquerade: Winter’s Bite

After posting zombie stories (The Walking Dead), ghosts (Ghosted), demonic possessions (Outcast), extraterrestrials (Aliens &Predator) and giant monsters (Godzilla), saldaPress proposes another important franchise in our fantasy-horror imagery: vampires. Or rather, the vampires derived from a famous role-playing game born in the early 90s, The Masquerade. After three decades, in fact, the American publisher Vault Comics proposed a comic transposition (released in 2020), recently printed by the group of welders within the new series Rebel Rebel.

Vampires are real and they live among us thanks to an ancient society divided into factions, often at war with each other, and governed by traditions as rigid as they are merciless. Among them, the most important is the Masquerade that is the social mask that hides their true nature: it is forbidden to reveal one’s identity to humans and doing so is equivalent to giving up the right to be a vampire. The entire structure of this miniseries rests on it and on other rules (Progeny, Dominion, Hospitality and Responsibility) which offers an insight into vampire society through the eyes of the protagonist Cecily, ruthless Brujah (independent clan) and court assassin of the Camarilla , or Ivory Tower, the most powerful vampire faction.

It was not at all easy to recount the vast playful universe of Vampires the Masquerade and in this first miniseries the work of the screenwriters Tini Howard, Blake Howard And Tim Seeley it turns out to be very good, managing to introduce the rules and mechanisms of a secret medieval community in a linear but not trivial way. For obvious reasons of narrative economy there are only some factions in the plot as well as conclave figures of the dozens present in the game manuals but, compared to it, the comic keeps intact the gothic-urban atmospheres and the strong contents of the story. In fact, forget any romantic, arcane or decadent aspect concerning the figure of a vampire narrated in novels or films such as Dracula, Twilight And Interview with the vampire, because the nocturnes of this miniseries are ruthless predators, without morals and on the verge of self-extinction due to the rivalries between the various clans. All are united by the fact that they have a life that, Vampire_masquerade_vol1_page1in essence, it is an existential agony without end based on survival, often at the expense of others.

In addition to being the central character, Cecily acts as a narrative key to explore a secret and inhuman world, whose dynamics we understand through her role and her choices, in the course of a choral intertwining that branches into a parallel plot (Anarchist Tales) focused instead on a small group of vampires not affiliated with any clan. Between secrets, conspiracies, struggles and balances of power, the pool of writers manages to add multiple narrative layers to the backbone of the plot in a coherent way., not limiting itself to a fictionalized description of the dynamics of the game, but creating a consequential story whose elements are cohesive and at the same time distinct from each other in terms of depth. An interesting writing work that gives a climate of ineluctability and a raw introspective realism to the events narrated, both inherent in the dichotomous relationship between Cecily’s life and personal dramas and concerning all aspects of a secret vampire nation.

The designers Nathan Gooden And Devmalya Pramanik instead they offer an effective visual counterbalance to the texts of the miniseries, with drawings that are not very spectacular but incisive in their realistic line and in the expressiveness of the characters, with vivid colors and tables built with a variable cage of vignettes. In particular, Pramanik has a raw and sharp style, interesting for the timbre and acting of the carachters.

We talked about:
Vampires the Masquerade volume 1: Winter’s Bite
Texts: Tini Howard, Blake Howard, Tim Seeley; Drawings: Nathan Gooden, Devmalya Pramanik
Translation by Stefano A. Cresti
saldaPress, 2022
176 pages, hardcover, colors – € 19.90
ISBN: 9791254610350

Vampires the Masquerade: Winter’s Bite – The White Space