Successful comic books have always required different talents to create. On the one hand, being a purely visual medium, the artwork needs to be eye-catching enough to attract and keep readers – very rarely will a comic that’s drawn poorly find an audience. On the other hand, there also needs to be a compelling story – readers should feel attached to the characters and captivated by the plot, so that they’ll keep coming back for issue after issue. Both of these elements together are the key to a comic’s prosperity.
Kirk Lindo’s Vamperotica Collection serves as a great example of a comic that has only the former achievement, and not the latter.
Before we go any further, let’s cover the basics. This collection brings together eight relatively short comics from various issues of Vamperotica comics (and a ninth story that’s really just a two-page comic ad), as well as a written synopsis of other issues and a number of full-page pin-ups, for just over a hundred pages altogether. The covers notwithstanding, all of the artwork here is black and white. The collection is in PDF format, but none of the advantages of that are used here; while there is a table of contents, it doesn’t hyperlink any of the chapters, nor are there bookmarks.
The introductory page (which also doubles as the ToC) lays down some of the brief terms and details we’re supposed to know about this setting. Vampires exist in the modern world. Check. There are three rules that all vampires must obey, those being that 1) You do not talk about Fight Club. 2) You do not…no wait, that’s not right. Let’s try that again. 1) Don’t threaten the human race as a whole, so vampires don’t have to go thirsty. 2) If you want to make new vampires, you need approval (in other words, planned parenthood is the norm here). And 3) Vampires are a big secret. Keep it that way. There’s also, however, a cabal of vampires who disagrees with these rules, and is working to openly rule the Earth, which has essentially created a vampire civil war. Finally, there’s also a three volume book of spells and such, which is basically this series’ own Necronomicon.
Got all that? Good. Now forget it all, because everything I’ve just told you has nothing whatsoever to do with what you’re going to read here.
Okay, I’m exaggerating, but not by much. Really, only the part about the rogue vampire faction has any relevance to what’s here, because very little of these stories bother with much plot exposition at all. The only reason the bit with the rogue vampires matters at all is because their leader is one of many men screwing Luxura, the tit-ular character (yes, that was a horrible pun, but it’s completely justified for this comic); everything else is almost entirely ignored, which is the first of two major faults for this collection.
There’s a chance that it’s not the fault of the comic itself that the story is so utterly lacking. After all, we’re only getting eight relatively short selections from a comic series that had several dozen issues at least, so it’s quite possible that we’re just not being given the sections with meatier story and character development – there’s a section near the end of the book that devotes several pages to providing a plot synopsis to a number of other issues, and they sound at least somewhat interesting, so maybe this compendium of comics just chose badly. In all honesty though, that seems unlikely. All of the comics here, every single one, follow the same formulaic story layout from beginning to end. There’s a brief introduction that provides just enough to get the story going (that is, someone has a reason for being in Luxura’s presence), at which point Luxura seduces them, and after several pages of sex, there’s some very minor plot exposition, and the story ends. Now repeat eight times.
If you think that the above sounds incredibly tedious, you’re right. Moreover, it doesn’t help at all that the characters are incredibly shallow and two-dimensional. In fact, most of them don’t even get enough “screen time” to even try and be anything other than a body for Luxura to curl herself around. Likewise, Luxura herself is so lacking in depth and personality that she becomes boring incredibly fast. Her singular answer to everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, is sex. Is someone trying to kill her? Seduce him. An old lover drops by? Seduce him. She’s looking to drink blood from someone? Guess what she does to him first…yep, seduce him. Even when the comic tries to take her outside of these bounds, she’s still utterly boring. Any attempts at any other kind of interaction are met with the same “I’m utterly unflappable because I know I have enough power to squash you like a bug” attitude that’s incredibly irritating. The only time Luxura even admits to feeling fear is the fear of never being able to copulate with an old lover-turned-enemy again, since she’s going to have to kill him…and of course this “fear” has no force or effect on her whatsoever. Luxura is the centerpiece of the most personality-bankrupt cast of characters I’ve ever seen.
Even with all of these flaws, the comic would still be forgivable if it really delivered in the eroticism department. After all, even a shoestring plot is enough if there’s some really great sex going on. But even in that regard, the comic utterly fails to deliver. It’s not that there’s no sex scenes here – pretty much every scenario is constructed purely so that Luxura has someone to do it with, but it’s how boring and repetitive they are. You see, while Luxura’s supposed to be incredibly sexual, all we ever see are her breasts. Okay, we get lots of shots of her ass in a skimpy little thong too, but her T&A is the most you’ll ever see here. Every sex scene makes sure that the genitals of the characters aren’t visible somehow; they’ll be angled so as to be obscured, or the panel is a close-up of them, or something else. Don’t ever expect to get a good look between Luxura’s legs, even once.
The above is compounded by the fact that the only kind of sexual activity that ever happens is just ordinary penetrative sex. That’s it. Forget about going down on someone, or breast-sex, or facials, or any kind of anal play – hell, no one even gets so much as a lousy handjob here. All that ever happens is just straight sex, which always makes sure to hide the actual organs from the viewer. Kirk, if you subtract every kind of sex-play except for the actual act, and don’t let people witness the majority of that, your “adult” comic isn’t really going to be that arousing for the readers. Luxura’s boobs are nice, I’ll grant you, but they’re not enough to sustain the level of eroticism you’re trying to evoke. You can write in all the flowery language you want (alternately narrated or spoken aloud by Luxura or her lover as they’re copulating) but it’s not going to help the underlying problem – with how little you’re giving us, the sex scenes just aren’t sexy.
To be fair, Kirk Lindo is a very talented artist. His ability to drawn complex, crisp images is second-to-none, and I applaud his level of skill. The problem is that this comic tries to excel on that alone, to its folly. With a non-existent plot, tedious sex scenes, and a main character who tries to come off as confident and seductive but is instead slutty and vaguely haughty, good artwork alone is not sufficient to make this comic into something I could honestly enjoy. As it is, I’m giving it three out of five stars simply because of the level of technical skill the art showcases, and because its flaws are due to a simple lack of trying, rather than being true failures. Regardless, Kirk Lindo’s Vamperotica Collection is a good starting point if you want to seriously get into the Vamperotica series, otherwise it’s fairly mundane.