Rosso Profondo, between vampires and the abandonment of rural America

Published in two volumes by Saldapress, Tim Seeley’s work is a horror that makes social criticism by rejecting feelings of hatred and exclusion as a response to fear

Monsters walk beside us, in our lives, trampling our own earth. They are not confined to a world of fantasy, our nightmares, our deepest fears. The monsters are generated by the sleep of reason, of course, but also by the abandonment of the suburbs to themselves, by those spirals of poverty and despair that generate hatred and anger. The American countryside has proved to be particularly fertile ground for these monsters in recent years, and Tim Seeley, who comes from that rural context, has been able to intercept these feelings and this theme in his own way. With a comic, of course, beautifully drawn by Corin Howell, Deep Red (Saldapress, two volumes, 19.90 euros each), a story of vampires and werewolves that winks at the imagery of series such as True Blood to become an instrument of social criticism, as in the tradition of the best horror films.

Deep Redthe plot

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Deep Red tells the story of Chip, a young attendant of a small 24-hour convenience store in Fall’s End, North Dakota. Chip works nights and sleeps during the day. His is not a choice but an obligation. In fact, if he doesn’t come home before dawn, his body begins to burn. Chip is a vampire, but in his own way, he doesn’t like to hunt and kill and has found an ethical way to survive. To feed him is a volunteer, Evie, a young Native American sick with polycythemia vera, a tumor that leads her body to produce excess red blood cells. To survive, Evie would have to periodically go to bloodletting, so the meeting with Chip gives life to a perfect symbiotic relationship that first becomes friends and then seems to be able to transform into something more.

Nazi vampires

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Chip seems to have found the perfect balance in Fall’s End, despite the annoyance that Cam causes him, the city bully, prototype and stereotype of the American ultra-right conservative, follower of QAnon conspiracy theories. But it gets worse, an association of Nazi vampires and supremacists who intend to take control of the Fall’s End by convincing Chip to join them. The trouble, though, is that Chip fought the Nazis during World War II, and he’s not about to give up now.

Between present and past

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Seeley writes a story that follows two time planes: the present one and a past in which, through flashbacks and nightmares, we discover the story of Chip, born Charles Ipswich, an American soldier who fell ill with diphtheria on the way to Paris, abandoned by his platoon and saved from the Cambiona half-human, half-demon girl, a young vampire, who casts the curse of eternal life on Chip.

the message

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And it is through the comparison between the war of the past and that of the present, one more glaring and in the light of the sun, the other less evident, hidden by shadows and darkness, that Seeley launches his message which is at the same time a cry of help for rural America and the affirmation of the principle that one can fight for one’s dignity without letting oneself be overwhelmed by hatred, rancor, racism.

Designs and colors

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The graphic behavior entrusted to the pencils of Corin Howell and the colors of Mark Englert is captivating, with an American comics style that enhances the sensuality of the faces and bodies of characters who are almost always beautiful and a rendering of the animal version of the shapeshifters that winks in the Disney tradition. As expected, the red color of blood dominates, with explicit but never disturbing splatter scenes. Frequent use of large cartoons and splash pages to enhance the talent of Corin Howell.

The model on which Chip is based

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Deep Red it is certainly an interesting genre comic, which entertains and at times moves, which betrays its social intent right from the preface entrusted to Seeley himself, making it explicit right away. It is the author who tells us that the character of Chip is modeled on the figure of his grandfather, the son of peasant immigrants from Czechoslovakia, a soldier of the Second World War, founder of a brick factory, capable of fighting fears without being overwhelmed and without fueled feelings of hatred, exclusion and prevarication in any way. These days, not trivial at all.

Tim Seeley and Corin Howell, Deep Red, Saldapress, 2 volumes, 19.90 euros each

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Rosso Profondo, between vampires and the abandonment of rural America