Vampire Free Style reviewed byMichael - Michael May's Adventure Blog

I often feel a little nervous about reviewing self-published and small press books. Those projects have a difficult enough time getting any kind of attention that I don’t want to crush anyone’s butterfly with a negative review. When I don’t like a small press book, I usually just don’t write about it. Fortunately, Jenika Ioffreda’s Vampire Free Style is simple to review, because it’s lovely and charming. It’s not without flaws – mostly grammatical errors and some unnatural dialogue – but I found those increasingly easy to ignore because I liked the story and the characters so much.

Vampire Free Style is a gothic mystery/romance with heavy manga influences. Something that's not immediately apparent by looking at me is that I have a strong inner goth. It probably traces back to Universal monster movies, but I grew up on Sisters of Mercy and The Mission UK and love stories with dark, crumbling mansions, beautiful innocents, and sinister forces that conspire against them.

My manga experience on the other hand is extremely limited, but it's obvious even to me that Vampire Free Style’s sense of humor and pacing owes a lot to Japanese comics. Ioffreda’s art even reminds me a little of Bizenghast, the manga-inspired gothic series by M. Alice LeGrow (though I like Vampire Free Style a lot better than that one).

Vampire Free Style is about a young witch-boy named Padroncino who’s just lost the love of his life. His girlfriend Elea has gone missing and he’s distraught. If you made it past “gothic mystery/romance with heavy manga influences” above, I’m hoping that the characters’ names aren’t off-putting to you. It’s a trope of the genre and Ioffreda uses it well sometimes (I quite like Elea’s name, for instance) and not as well at others (Baron E. Van Darth).

As the story opens, a stray cat wanders into Padroncino's life and it quickly becomes apparent to the reader that the cat is in fact Elea. We know this because the cat keeps having flashbacks that are obviously from Elea’s point of view, but Padroncino knows nothing. As he investigates Elea’s disappearance, the real mystery for the reader isn’t what happened to her, but how did it happen and why?

Complicating the situation is a young man named Edward who’s hanging out with a group of goth kids. When he accidentally comes into contact with the cat on the street, he begins to have strange flashbacks to the eighteenth century where he also met and fell in love with a girl named Elea.

I don’t know how long Ioffreda intends the series to run, but there are six issues so far. It feels like she’s close to revealing everything, so I don’t want to go into any more detail about the plot and risk spoiling something. I’ll just say that the description above goes through around the third issue and that revelations abound in subsequent issues.

As much as I like the mystery aspect to the series though, I’m equally invested in the romance. At times, it feels like it's building toward a Casablanca-like dilemma for Elea. If she’s the same girl with whom Edward fell in love with in the past (the title of the series might be a clue to how that’s possible, but doesn’t explain all the details), she’s going to have a decision to make at some point. I’m not saying whether she is or isn’t the same girl; I’m just noting that Ioffreda plants the idea and that made me want to keep reading.

Like a lot of manga characters, Elea comes off a bit perfect, but it’s impossible to dislike her. She’s so sweet, so ideal – and Ioffreda draws her so beautifully – that I can’t help but root for her. The same goes for Padroncino. I want these lovely, crazy kids to end up together, even as I’m hoping that nothing bad happens to Edward in the process. That’s the story that drives Vampire Free Style and makes we want the seventh issue.

Though it’s primarily available in comics shops in the UK, I imagine that if you contact Ioffreda through her website, she’ll be glad to arrange something with you.

Vampire Free Style reviewed by Annette - Gothic Mom's Book Reviews

Vampire Free Style is a self published comic series that's making its way around London and the rest of the United Kingdom on its way to the USA.

Wonderfully illustrated, Vampire Free Style is a 300 year old story in the making staring all of the mythical characters we love to read about.  Witches in training, a Fairy Godmother, and of course Vampires.  Throw in a love story that spans all time and you have a winner.

Though I'm really not the comic book type, I really enjoyed the change and reading all six of the editions I was given for this review.  And though there were a few mistakes, I would still recommend you take a look.

It is not currently listed on Amazon, but you can hop on over to their web page and check it out!


4 of 5 stars

Vampire Free Style issue 6 reviewed by Roxanne Rhoads - Fang-Tastic Books

I adore the colorful covers and art of the Vampire Free Style comic books.
My 13 year old daughter loves them too.

I honestly don't read a lot of graphic novels or comic books because I like linear reading not boxes and bubbles. However I love the art. Being a visual person seeing such eye catching covers and pages of art pulls me in and makes me want to explore.

Once inside the books I find...I kinda like it there. I have read and reviewed the first five books in the series so I was quite pleased to get book 6.
Witches, magic, love, vampires...and a black cat. What's not to love?

The story is complex and magical and it keeps you reading though I must admit I am more enchanted by the artwork than the story. The artwork really tells the story.

The covers are full color and absolutely gorgeous while the inside is done in glossy black and white with a modern gothic feel. The overall effect is mesmerizing. You keep turning the pages to see more.

And the story will pull you in with it's romance, the quirky characters, the magic....it will not disappoint.

Vampire Free Style issue 6 reviewed by Olivia -Vampire Romance Books

I was so excited to receive my copy of the 6th issue of Vampire Free Style. If you haven’t been following this pnr comic series, you are missing out.

Issue #6 is a voyage of discovery. Micia, the cat, awakens to find herself the prisoner of vampires. The answers to the mysteries of previous issues are revealed. The story is extremely romantic, yet avoids being mushy or corny. We learn how Elea became a cat, how Edward lost his memories, and the history of his doomed romance. We also learn Auntie Margherita’s secrets. This is not the final issue, however. There is still more story to tell in a future issue. (YEA!)

I just love the gothic romance of this series. The story line is delightful and won’t disappoint and neither will the quirky characters and charming artwork. The concept is really cool and the books are very high quality. This is a series to be enjoyed by all fans of paranormal or gothic romance.

Vampire Free Style has been chosen as Nominee for
Best Reviewer Read of 2012 in the YA Genre
by the Paranormal Romance Guild.

Vampire Free Style issue 6 reviewed by Stormy Janes - Paranormal Romance Guild

Vampire Free Style is a comic book series with an anime style and a dark, gothic feel. At first glance, the impression is a simple story with a look of something that pre-teens would like. But once you open the cover you quickly find a very complex and deep story line with magnificent art work.

My previous review of Vampire Free Style was of Issues 1 – 5. I admitted the plot started out slowly and seemed simple in nature. You are then slowly and methodically introduced to a cast of unique and diverse characters that gain depth and complexity as the plot becomes more mysterious and suspenseful. The plot centers on a boy learning to be a witch and a mystical black cat he finds while in search of his girlfriend, Elea, who has mysteriously disappeared. We meet Edward, a Vampire who has just awakened after a 300 year sleep with no memory and Auntie Margherita whose face you never see. Other characters are The Master and the Baron E. Van Darth. By issue 3 you find yourself in magical tale of love, romance, intrigue and suspense. Every issue leaves you hanging on the edge wanting to know what happens next.

Issue 6 reveals answers to a lot of the mysteries that were carefully constructed in the first five issues. We learn why Edward was a sleep for 300 years and why he has no memory. We discover who Micia the magical black cat is as well as what happened to Elea. As so much is revealed in this issue, my thought was this would be the end of the series…. So wrong! Ms. Ioffreda has done an excellent job once again giving you a wonderful story, adding depth and leaving you with “to be continued”.

Vampire Free Style reviewed by Mary Lee - Paranormal Book Lovers

I'm usually not into comics. But when I was offered to read the first 6 issues of the series "Vampire Free Style" by the artist Jenika Ioffreda... I accepted as soon as I saw some examples of her great artwork. I fell in love with Micia - the little black cat right away. But see for yourself... could you resist this cutie?

The story...
a witch boy who adopts a not so ordinary cat and is learning how to fly...
an eccentric aunt who loves to dress up cats and owns a witch shop...
a guy who lost his memory and who sees beyond the facade...
a hidden castle and a lost love...

The artwork is black/white and in a beautiful way gothic and dark... and at the same time enchanting like a fairy tale.

The story is magical and romantic and I love the way the characters are drawn. The cat is without question the five star cutie of the story. The funny aunt - who likes to dress up the cat in silly costumes - is never drawn with a face, which was a really good idea. The witch boy Padroncino is besides the cat my favorite character. He's very likeable and his tests of learning how to fly are really funny. I don't want to give away too much of the story, so let me just tell you I really loved this story so far and I will definitely read the next books in the series. I recommend "Vampire Free Style" for teens and grownups alike - if you're into a sweet and timeless story about witches, vampires and magic.

My rating:
4.5 stars out of 5 stars

Vampire Free Style reviewed by Stormy Janes - Paranormal Romance Guild (www.paranormalromanceguild.com)

Vampire Freestyle is a unique comic book series that has an anime feel to it, and closely resembles manga type books, only with slightly more dialogue. The story centers around Padroncino, a boy learning to be a witch. He is looking for his girlfriend Elea, who has mysteriously disappeared.

Padroncino finds a stray black cat, Micia, and gives her a home. We quickly learn that Micia is no ordinary cat and when she crosses the path of Edward, he sees her as something totally different! As we are introduced to the other characters, we see their personalities and traits are uniquely their own. How the characters are illustrated was something I did enjoy as it added a lot of mystery; such as an Aunt whose face you never see, names that are not revealed right away and a vampire with no memory.
Admittedly, the first issue was slightly difficult to follow. Fortunately, there is an introduction in the beginning of the following issues that give a brief synopsis of where the story left off. The story is well developed by the third issue, and is much easier and more enjoyable to follow. The plot starts out rather simple, however it does gain depth and complexity as it moves along.

Vampire Free Style is very different from a typical vampire story. It is romantically dark, filled with mystery, magic and suspense. The artwork is beautiful with a gothic feel. It is appropriate for all ages but would probably be enjoyed the most by a younger audience.

Vampire Free Style reviewed by Olivia -Vampire Romance Books (vampireromancebooks.com)
I am delighted to be able to tell you about a wonderful addition to vampire romance.  
I felt as though I were reading through a dark, romantically poignant dream as I read Vampire Free Style.  This is a beautifully written tale of lost love, ancient mysteries, and magic.  The story line is tight and fresh and so is the medium.  Hold on to your hats because I’m talking about ….dum ta dum!…..comic books!   There is nothing funny about these comics though, they are outstandingly awesome and suitable for ALL ages.  In other words, all you readers that are 20, 30, 40, and beyond, will LOVE Vampire Free Style just as much as the under 20 crowd.
The story begins with a cat that crosses the path of two men.  One of them, Edward, sees a woman when he looks at the cat.  The other is a sad young witch in training named Padroncino.  He is sad because his girlfriend has mysteriously disappeared without a trace and all efforts to locate her have failed.  The cat follows Padroncino home where she begins to have memory flashbacks of being with Padroncino as a human girl.  Meanwhile, Edward begins having his own visions of the girl he saw, and forgotten memories from 300 years ago begin to emerge.
Vampire Free Style is beautifully illustrated with a gothic/emo style.  Done in black and white, each page still conveys light, texture, and emotion.  The transition from frame to frame is immaculate.  The pages have the slick and glossy look and feel that is found in illustrated books of high quality.  Sometimes in manga the characters all look pretty much the same, but here, each character is uniquely drawn and easy to identify.   The women are lovely and far from being the sexually exaggerated Barbie dolls often associated with comics.   The style is charming and inviting.  The plot line is complex, but easy to follow, and holds the attention of the reader.   The supporting characters are interesting and mysterious as well.
I strongly recommend this series.  You will not be disappointed and will find the uniqueness of the medium to be a positive rather than a negative.  Reading a great story and looking at quality illustrations is something that grownups can enjoy just as much as the young ones.   Readers will be enchanted.   I was left craving more and will definitely be a follower of this series as new volumes are released. 

Vampire Free Style reviewed by Anna Dougherty- Bite Club (vampchixreadbooks.blogspot.com)
How do you rate a comic? Do you evaluate the story alone, similar to how you might judge a short story, or do you focus more on the artwork as a basis for telling the story? What is the happy middle ground? This was a real challenge for me because I wanted to present a fair and cohesive review of this fun, vampire themed comic book series. 
Each comic itself is short and sweet, averaging about 20-25 pages, with what I would gauge to be a medium amount of dialogue. It wasn't until the third volume that I really became interested in the actual plot of Padroncino's missing girlfriend. I thought the flashback scenes added to he mysterious element and I almost wished for a few more.  Padroncino isn't the best witch on the block but he was certainly fun to watch. His bumbling spell attempts were cute and reminded me of that kid in Harry Potter, the one that always has things blowing up in is face. It seems like once Padroncino gains confidence he might see that his talent is real, and works just fine, but his negative energy is currently blocking his ability to see. He is definitely a young character and this leads me to think that this series is well aimed at the ever-growing YA crowd. Overall, a very whimsical and quirky vibe that is conveyed nicely throughout with both images and words.Some plot points were a bit obvious and I could guess what direction the story would take, while others maintained the air of mystery. Who is the Master? Will Padroncino ever find his girlfriend? What outfit will the poor cat (Micia) be forced to wear next? Guess I need to read volume 6 to find out.

Vampire Free Style reviewed by Roxanne - Fang Tastic Books (fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com)
When I was offered the chance to review the graphic novel/ comic book series Vampire Free Style I almost said no.

I'm not much into comics but one glimpse at the books with their vibrant and whimsical covers changed my mind. The drawing style immediately made me want to see more.
Plus my daughter- who just turned 12- adores comic books and graphic novels.
So I said yes, I'd review the series.
I am extremely glad that I did.
I received them and read through them right away. The vibrant art pulled me in while the story kept me turning pages.
I love the very colorful pages, the amazing artistic detail and style, the creative characters and of course- the magical story. A cat, a vampire, a witch in training...a great cast of characters that had me enchanted right from the beginning.
I loved that the story develops quickly but is still filled with mystery. The characters are not overly complex but not shallow either.

It's sweet and appropriate for all ages- which is something that really appeals since my daughter and her friends quickly ran off with the books.
Over the weekend a houseful of girls ages 11- 18 all read the first 5 issues of Vampire Free Style- each and everyone of them- and they loved them and wanted to know when the next books would be out.
I think that means the books received the tween and teen stamp of approval.Try the series- you'll love it and want more. I know I do. So does my daughter and her friends.
Even non comic book readers will love these books- if only for the artwork.

Vampire Free Style reviewed by Moonlight - (www.vampires.com)

Vampire Free Style is a self-published comic series written and illustrated by Jenika Ioffreda. I recently got my hands on the first five issues of this unique comic, a comic that tells a mysterious tale of lost love, old secrets, magic and one odd little cat.

Jenika’s Vampire Free Style is like no other comic I have read before, the story is rather different than other vampire stories out there, and so is the artwork. Jenika’s art style is fantastic and completely her own, I absolutely adored it, and like every newbie artist, it improved throughout every issue. Jenika definitely earns points for the artwork. However, since there are typos and a few pages that should have had a little more work done to them before going to print, she loses a couple points. With a few touches here and there, the comic could really shine.As for the story itself, well, as I started reading I was instantly lost, I had absolutely no clue what was going on – a cat that has visions, a witch with his broom, a vampire and his lost memories – lots to figure out. But, as I continued the storytelling improved and by the time I got to the fifth issue I was dying to find out what happens next. The story is incredibly complex and unfortunately it’s difficult to tell a story like that in a comic where dialogue is limited. Luckily, at the beginning of each issue to get a refresher of the story so far, and that helps tons.Overall I really enjoyed Vampire Free Style, as of issue five there are loads and loads of unanswered questions and I can’t wait to see where the Jenika takes the story. While she may be new to the comic scene, I can see her becoming a huge hit in time.

Vampire Free Style reviewed by Anna May - Anime Picks (www.animepicks.com)
Vampire Free Style is a short manga style comic produced by Neptune Factory. Neptune Factory is run by the uber friendly Jenika Ioffreda who self publishes all her comic issues, and sells them through numerous online, and local stores.

Vampire Free Style tells the story of Padroncino, a young man that’s learning the ways of the witches. His girlfriend vanished not too long ago and he is doing everything in his power to get her back. Along the way he meets a small, personality filled cat who he names Micia. Padroncino has no idea that Micia has many memories connected to him, and as more unfold we see her for who she really is.Jenika has a gorgeous drawing style that pops out of every page. It’s a subtle mix of american comic with its firm facial structures, and Japanese manga through its comedic expressions and shimmering eyes. Not only is this style great, it actually gets better with every issue.The real star of Vampire Free Style is Micia- no question. Not only is she cute, but those huge eyes pack a trunkful of expressions that make her the most entertaining character in the series.Although I speak mostly of comedy, the comics offer a huge depth of character as well. The story is complicated and emotional, which is brought through cleverly with each individual character. Nothing is overdone here, emotions are balanced throughout to keep the story flowing- something which I can only commend Jenika for.Vampire Free Style is a completely charming little series that will reignite your love for vampires, and make you smile with every page.

What Jenika has to say about self-publishing:
I totally love self publishing. It gives me the freedom to draw whatever I want, whenever I want and in any way I want. I love every moment of it. Of course I would be happy to have an official publisher but for now I really like self publishing. It’s not hard, it is actually very pleasant.’

Vampire Free Style reviewed by LillyHawk - Gothic Blend (www.gothicblend.net)

Recently something cute and adorable found it's way onto my doorstep. Since I'm a sucker for such things, I just had to pick it up even though I knew it might bite. With a name like Vampire Free Style it probably had some teeth...But I had to find out what it was and what it was doing on my doorstep.

With those big pleading eyes on the front cover of Issue #1, I couldn't resist seeing what was hidden inside. There is a delightful mix of mystery and mirth in each edition. After reading Issues 1-5 the mystery began to unfold and each one left us eager for the next. I say "us" because our 13 year old daughter discovered them hiding under my chair and absolutely fell in love with them, too!
We both adore Vampire Free Style, just as if it were little lost kitten that had found us and we can't wait to see what will happen next. It was enjoyable in spite of the fact that English is not the author's native language. There are a few references that US readers may find obscure or bit confusing. But, this actually added to the charm and the settings of the stories. If you like a mixture of anime, magic, romance and mystery, then check out Vampire Free Style! I asked author Jenika Ioffreda what inspired these comics and here's what she had to say:

"About what inspired me for the comic series, the main character, Micia, was inspired by a joke between me and my boyfriend years ago.
We are both from Italy and in Italian language "Micia" it means "female cat" and it's quite common name for female cats.
He was calling me Micia as a joke and I started to draw myself in a shape of cat whenever I needed to leave him a note.
Slowly the cat that I was drawing more and more started to take a life of her own... and there Micia was born. In 2003 I moved from Italy to United Kingdom and while I was on the train going from the airport to central London, I saw the roofs of some houses and I started to think I wanted draw a new comic book about characters very familiar with roofs.
The idea of a witch who was learning to fly come out and slowly all the other characters come out too. All the characters and situation are inspired by people I really met and situation I really lived and also by dreams I had while sleeping.

Vampire Free Style 5 reviewed by Richard Bruton - Forbidden Planet International (www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog)Vampire Free Style 5 – a lovely gothic romance comes together nicelyMore cute goth stylings with a manga touch from Jenika Ioffreda.
In this issue we venture 300 years into the past to a forbidden love between a vampire and a human girl; a girl looking to master the Umbra Luna spell capable of restoring things to their original forms – possibly even vampires?
In the present day we rejoin Micia the cat with the ability to speak to the stars, Padroncino the witch boy in training searching for his recently disappeared girlfriend Elea and a coven of vampires that includes Edward, a vampire who sees Micia the cat as a beautiful girl very similar to Elea.
Connections, connections, connections….. even bonkers Auntie Margherita, previously only here to dress Micia the cat in daft costumes seems to have some role to play in the drama’s conclusion. It’s too close to the end to try to explain without giving away plotlines, but there’s a lovely preview image on Jenika’s website that serves the purpose quite nicely:

I’d previously described Vampire Free Style as "an absolutely delightful book", with "a lightness and playfulness throughout" where "the cuteness coexists happily with a sense of loss and sadness that, if Jenika handles it right in forthcoming issues, will make this book far more than the cute Manga Goth book it superficially resembles".
And based on the 5 issues so far I think she’s managed it. In this penultimate issue all of the tangled, tantalising threads of the comic’s story are beginning to come together. The manga-esque style fantasy is losing it’s comedy and cutesy factor but this is replaced by a strong story where everyone and everything is falling into place.
It’s looking like it will all come together as a lovely, well drawn, gothic fantasy fairy story – and that’s gothic more in reference to the genre combining horror and romance than the obvious gothic elements of vampires and dark haired young women with top hats and black dresses.

Vampire Free Style is available from Jenika’s website. With one issue to go it’s a perfect time to catch up.

Vampire Free Style # 1, 2, 3, and 4 reviewed by Richard Vasseur from Jazma Online (http://forums.jazmaonline.com) Title: Vampire Free Style # 1
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
There is one strange cat in this comic. It is drawn simple but oddly shaped. The cat meets a would be witch. They were made for each other.
The art is unique a manga gothic style. It is a delight to see. It is fun, weird and beautiful.
The story moves along nicely following the cat Micia. Micia is going to be a central character even though Micia is a cat. The witch in training is cute as well and he is portrayed as a very nice witch. The Prince is a mysterious figure with a beatnik look.
Not a lot is explained about these various characters so there is a strong sense of mystery here. It works as you will expect it to be revealed a small amount at a time. The witches name is not revealed, his aunt's face not shown, nor the Prince's name revealed yet. The last page of the story does reveal a surprising secret and it is done within one wonderful illustration that has to be seen to fully appreciate.

Title: Vampire Free Style # 2
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Things are not what they seem as is the case with this cat, Micia. She is a mystery. Now when stars start talking to her things turn stranger.
Edward the gothic looking guy appears to see the cat as more than a cat. The cat's other look, her true self is so cute and sexy. The drawings of her in her true form are beautifully done.
There is some beautifully illustrated scenery. Edward's home is a gothic mansion. The art style is a delight to behold.
Each issue offers some answers and more mysteries. There seems to be a growing attachment between the cat and edward. All of the characters slowly grow on you. They draw you into their lives.
Both the art and story combine to deliver an experience unlike any other comic you have seen. It is truely unique. Title: Vampire Free Style # 3
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
We get a needed synapsis of all the main characters here. You can't tell the characters without a score card.
The cat, Micia is so weird. She mion's lots. She is always around and seems to know a lot more of what is going on than a cat would. She is a nystery. All the people have a gothic appeal to them. As you read through the comic some answers are revealed and more mysteries occur. You are always pulled into the story. It draws you in and holds you in its grasp.
The Cool Girl's relationship with Micia the cat is funny. The manga style to the art shows Coll Girl's emotions beautifully.
The art style is a beautifully rendered gothic manga style that is a delight to look upon. The story does have a slight romantic touch to it as well.
This issue Edward gives and gets a surprise. Its not entirely unexpected but still a nice surprise.
Unique art and a mysterious story make this comic a wonderful read.

Title: Vampire Free Style # 4
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
What do a vampire prince, a witch in training and a weird cat who may or may not be an angel have in common? They can all be found within these pages.
The story is filled with mysteries. As one unravels another takes its place.
The art is outstanding as it illustrates the people and scenery in a gothic delight.
The story is a romantic one filled with heroisim and lost love. More is revealed about Edward and Padronino.
Of course Micia the cat is present. She is a strange pet as she MIOUs. Its easy to tell she is no ones pet.
Edward's past is revealed 300 years in the past. He is quiet the dashing figure and his lady friend Elea as well is a gothic vision of loveiness. It looks as if their might be a love triangle here as well.
All these characters are wonderful to join in their world as the story pulls you in. You will imagine you are part of this world. Both story and art will exsnare you in its magical embrace.

Vampire Free Style reviewed by Andy Briggs from trappedbymonsters.com

As Halloween approaches I hope you're all spooking yourself reading Tommy's superb SCREAM STREET series! But what to do once you've read (and re-read, yes Tommy, stop poking me with that broken monster rib) those? Well, sometimes it's good to stumble on something new.
During last weekend's comic expo at the eXcel arena in London, not only was I delighted that my horror graphic novel, RITUAL, sold out, but I was able to find new comics I'd previously never heard of. Once such one comic was VAMPIRE FREE STYLE (self-published by Neptune Factory).
It's a magical fantasy romp (with Manga overtones) about a prince seeking his princess through the help of a cool cat called Micia. It's a quick read, delightfully illustrated and quirky (I loved the witch who was learning to fly). It's not the kind of thing I normally go for, but there was something about the artwork that caught my eye.
You can check out more here: www.neptunefactory.com
But the moral of this tale is; don't be afraid of trying something new - you WILL be surprised.
Happy Halloween everyone!

Vampire Free Style reviewed by Carl Doherty from Holycr4p.com (shelfabuse.com)

Vampires, vampires everywhere, and not a drop to drink. The monster so popular they’ve practically had an entire genre erected around them... and so on. Though calling the modern Nosferatu a “monster” is something of an overgeneralization, given the number of thoroughly decent bloodsuckers that have descended from Bram Stoker’s tragic immortal. Vampire Free Style has one such amiable vamp, though there’s a fair bit more to this series than the usual boy-with-fangs meets girl premise.
Vampire Free Style primarily follows witch boy in training Padroncino, his search for his missing girlfriend and Micia, the stray cat he befriends. Micia is clearly more than your common street feline, and dreams of a presumably previous life as a human. A third plot strand, which begins with the introduction of the aforementioned vampire Edward, and flashbacks to his life 300 years prior, slowly joins the dots as to the fate of Padroncino’s beloved and the identity of his implausibly cute pussycat.
What impressed me most about Jenika Ioffreda’s story is how much appears to have happened in just three issues; though Issue 4 (of 6) has numerous revelations, it still clings dearly to its secrets. As with any long running narrative, dipping into Vampire Free Style midway is a rather daunting experience; hopefully the series will be compiled once it’s completed. A recap is included on the inside front cover, but there’s so much to take in that trying to digest it all is likely to give you a headache.
Ioffreda’s monochromic art is absolutely charming, blending the Eastern sensitivities of Studio Gibli animes such as Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away with the inherent Englishness of vampire fiction and old Hammer Horrors. I was going to comment that it’s not difficult to imagine the eyeballed silhouette of black cat Micia making its way to T-shirts sometime soon, but those are already available from the site. She’s an endearing creation that has swiftly become the series’ mascot.
Tonally the antithesis of its title, Vampire Free Style is a very sweet book. But it also presents an interesting enough mystery to appeal to more than romantic Goth girlies – not that I’m belittling that particular demographic in any way whatsoever. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read, recommendable to all ages and genders.


Vampire Free Style reviewed by Tim Girard from Blog Critics Magazine (http://blogcritics.org)

I cut my teeth on comic books. Well, in its fashion. I grew up reading the horrific Marvel Star Wars side universe and graduated to more ruthless titles such as the Uncanny X-men and Spiderman. Mine was a world of violence and superhero throwdowns that were bloody and filled with rage. (In its own respect it was very much the predecessor for the WWF and the more provocative UFC.) I was a witness to the comic atrocities of the Mutant Massacre and the eventual Fall of the Mutants. I was around when Marvel instituted the Mutant Registry Act and I was a bystander when Wolverine and Spiderman beat on one another. I stalked the night with the Green Arrow and met four little turtles way back before they were a cartoon or a live action movie. I helped shoulder Cub when Lone Wolf trekked through the wilderness. I have seen devils rise and angels fall. I know my way around a comic book. I understand the animated world. Go back in time to Ralph Baskhi' Lord of the Rings. I was there. Go back to Disney's early Symphonies. (I'm not that old but I grew up with them.) Japanimation lurked in the shadows. Films like Akira and Vampire Hunter D were an undercurrent in the animated world. In the nineties, animators hooked into the comic world, spawning the afore mentioned X-Men and a plethora of other titles. Following these titles were spin offs like Teen Titans that played on the manga concept yet held a ferocious spirit as well.All this brings me to Vampire Free Style. Written and drawn by Jenika Ioffreda, Vampire Free Style tells the story of a cat, a witch in training, and a vampire. I have to admit this is gross simplicity at its finest. The story is much more complicated than that. There is a host of characters, a history (one which the reader travels through as characters are revealed), and a missing girl. Ioffreda takes her time in a whimsical fashion. The characters seem to be a visual hybrid of Dave McKean from his work on the Sandman series. (Neil Gaiman is an influence according to Ioffreda's website.) They are drawn elegantly, and one cannot help but appreciate these characters for what they are. That being said, I do have to take some issue with the cat. The cat within the story functions as an almost living vessel for the missing girl. It is as if she were the cursed princess waiting for her release. For me, the cat's drawn style was distracting - much like watching an American cartoon that is heavily influenced by manga where the character is transformed into something absurd and loud only to revert back to its original form. (Teen Titans was renowned for this.) The cat seems out of place. I know this is by design. And I know there are fans out there saying 'duh' (my daughter is one of them!). For me, the cat seems a little too Disney Formula, a little too playing by the rules of cute sidekick. That is where I find myself with the story. Not formulaic. Vampire Free Style is anything but formulaic. If it were a meal, I would say it is something of a dessert: light, airy, and not too heavy. The artwork is splendid, and one sees a tremendous amount of time and love has been put into crafting not only the characters and the story, but the appearance as well. The pages are professional, glossy, and showcase the talent behind the creator rather than the printer. My hat's off to Miss Ioffreda for her undertaking!Would I recommend Vampire Free Style? I would. I would caution those of the exceeding testosterone inclinations; this ain't your Poppa's comic. This is something different. Don't expect snarls and claws, goofy quips from spandex masks. Expect something a little different, a little ethereal. In a genre inundated by impossible bosoms and muscles, something a little different isn't so bad. In fact, I would recommend it every now and then - and Vampire Free Style is a good place to start.

Vampire Free Style issue 4 reviewed by Richard Bruton - Forbidden Planet International
Jenika was kind enough to send me issue 4 of her great Vampire Free Style recently. You may remember that I said of the first 3 issues back in April 2008:Vampire Free Style is an absolutely delightful book, with much to offer to a wide range of comic and non-comic readers. There's a lightness and playfulness throughout the book but the cuteness coexists happily with a sense of loss and sadness that, if Jenika handles it right in forthcoming issues, will make this book far more than the cute Manga Goth book it superficially resembles. It's a modern little fairy story, mixing gothic romance with a great sense of fun in both writing and art.In these first three issues we're introduced to a young trainee witch boy with a habit of jumping off roofs trying to fly his broomstick. Our young witch boy meets an interesting cat on his latest aborted flying lesson. But this black cat, Micia, is no ordinary cat and she seems to be linked not only to Padroncino (the witch boy), but also with Edward, leader of a group of Goths who can only see a beautiful Death like Goth girl whenever he looks at Micia. Obviously there is more to this cat than meets the eye.Indeed there appears to be much more to so many of the cast of characters. Padroncino is desperately searching for the girlfriend who mysteriously disappeared; there are witches and witchcraft everywhere, and more questions than answers so far. The interweaving of their stories is seen, by the start of issue three, to last through the centuries. Lost necklaces, secret masters living in the darkness, and of course, at some point we find out why it's called Vampire Free Style. Although, with so many Goths around, it was no surprise to find out that someone with a thirst for blood would be showing up.And with issue 4, it all starts coming together a little more. Edward, recently bitten by a vampire is dreaming of his past life, 300 years ago, where we find out that not only was he a Vampire himself, but he fell in love with a mortal called Elea.And on the looks alone, it's very likely this Elea is the same Elea that our despairing and heartbroken witch boy Padroncino is looking for after she mysteriously disappeared. Strange that she should disappear just before that cute black cat Micia appeared.Whilst this issue is all about story, Jenika still manages to get moments of intense sadness and loss in, as well as a great comedy routine with Padroncino trying his best to work a transforming spell that's playing havoc with MiciaVampire Free Style is really developing into a very good comic and Jenika seems to be able to work the very difficult balancing act of manga hi-jinks and comedy against a backdrop of Gothic romance and supernatural thriller very well indeed. The art is lovely, the stories getting better and better.My only complaint? It's been at least 9 months between issue 3 and this issue. I'd love to see them more often.

Vampire Free Style issues 1, 2, 3, 4 reviewed by Eden - (www.comicsgirl.com)
There are going to be certain expectations attached to a manga-style comic book featuring vampires that is created by a young woman — and mostly, these expectations aren’t good. It’s something that in incompetent hands can be disappointing amateur, too much of a self-indulgent fantasy for the goth girl behind it.
I’m glad to say that Vampire Free Style defied those expectations. In the hands of London-based creator Jenika Ioffreda (who was kind enough to send these copies for me to review all the way from England), this series is a surprising delight.Young boy witch-in-training Padroncino is mourning his missing girlfriend when he finds a black cat he dubs Micia. Micia also grabs the attention of the mysterious Edward, who sees a mysterious young woman any time Micia is around. There’s also an ancient curse, a necklace and a creepy hooded figure known as the Master. These are all typically delightful stock characters from any dark shoujo manga you can find.Self-published and obviously a labor of love, Vampire Free Style does start off a bit shakily — it does feel like it takes Ioffreda a little while to find her voice — but even from the first issue, she has a good eye for detail (Padroncino’s room is wonderfully messy, with an unmade bed and posters taped to the wall). As the series progresses, so does Ioffreda’s art — it was lovely from the beginning, but it becomes stronger and more expressive with each subsequent issue.Ioffreda doesn’t seem afraid to let her influences shine — she says she’s a fan of Death: The High Cost of Living and Nana and echoes of those titles can be felt here from the cute artwork to the wonderful attention paid to the clothes.Ioffreda seems like she is still growing as both an artist and a writer, though. The goofy bits with Auntie Margherita, who likes to dress Micia in various cute outfits, feel like unnecessary comic relief. And by the end of the fourth issue, it felt like the story was really just getting started — too much time was spent on establishing the characters before the plot kicked in.
But these are relatively minor complaints — Ioffreda is a talent to watch, and there’s a playfulness to her work. Her love for what she’s doing shines through and left me with a great affection for her work. I was surprised at how engrossed I became in the story and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Vampire Free Style issues 1, 2, 3 reviewed by Andy - Taliesin meets the Vampires

Vampire Free Style is a series of comic books, currently up to issue 3 and destined to be 6 issues in length. The books are a gothic fairytale in which we meet a cast of characters but our story proper surrounds Micia, a sweet black cat who can speak with the stars.
She is linked to Padroncino, a witch boy who is trying to learn how to fly (with little success) and is searching for his girlfriend who has vanished without a trace. Through the comics we see flashbacks to memories of Padroncino from Micia.
There is also Edward a man whose path keeps crossing that of Micia. When near the cat he sees a vision of a girl clad in black, surely Padroncino's missing girlfriend. As I mentioned this is a gothic fairytale and the story ties these characters in deeply together, with hints of a history going back 300 years. The story itself is complex and interesting, though the dialogue can be a little off at times. However, this is a minor criticism and, if anything, adds a formality to the dialogue that works in the setting.

Where this really succeeds is with the illustrations, worked in black and grey they carry a cuteness within that is underscored with a sumptuousness, which merges the gothic element with a magical mischievousness. This mischievousness is complimented by story asides, such as a little clay idol that teases Micia in a magic shop. The shop, incidentally, is owned by Auntie Margherita a character whose face we never see but who has a perchance for dressing the long suffering cat in costumes to comic effect. It is, again, the visual aspects of such impish humour that really works.

Now, to this point I have not mentioned vampires and this is the reason I have looked at these 3 issues in the form of an honourable mention. It is at the very end of the third volume that our vampiric activity begins literally over the last three pages when Edward is reawakened as a vampire. Obviously in the fourth volume the vampire aspects will come more into play.
A beautiful trip into a dark fable, with enough story revealed and questions raised within the reader's mind to both intrigue and bring them back into the beautifully drawn world.

Vampire Free Style issues 1, 2, 3 reviewed by Richard Bruton - Forbidden Planet International (www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk)

Vampire Free Style is an absolutely delightful book, with much to offer to a wide range of comic and non-comic readers. There’s a lightness and playfulness throughout the book but the cuteness coexists happily with a sense of loss and sadness that, if Jenika handles it right in forthcoming issues, will make this book far more than the cute Manga Goth book it superficially resembles. It’s a modern little fairy story, mixing gothic romance with a great sense of fun in both writing and art.

In these first three issues we’re introduced to a young trainee witch boy with a habit of jumping off roofs trying to fly his broomstick. Our young witch boy meets an interesting cat on his latest aborted flying lesson. But this black cat, Micia, is no ordinary cat and she seems to be linked not only to Padroncino (the witch boy), but also with Edward, leader of a group of Goths who can only see a beautiful Death like Goth girl whenever he looks at Micia. Obviously there is more to this cat than meets the eye.

Indeed there appears to be much more to so many of the cast of characters. Padroncino is desperately searching for the girlfriend who mysteriously disappeared; there are witches and witchcraft everywhere, and more questions than answers so far. The interweaving of their stories is seen, by the start of issue three, to last through the centuries. Lost necklaces, secret masters living in the darkness, and of course, at some point we find out why it’s called Vampire Free Style. Although, with so many Goths around, it was no surprise to find out that someone with a thirst for blood would be showing up.

Jenika’s writing is fun and packed with spirit and raw energy and very occasionally small slips in the dialogue (Jenika’s Italian by birth and arrived here just 5 years ago), but the fun and the energy more than make up for this every time. Her artwork is a curious mix of styles; the obvious reference point for me is Neil Gaiman’s Death series, as one of the lead characters in Vampire Free Style is a stereotypical Goth girl with a penchant for top hats. But there’s also a very westernised Manga look to it complete with bighead moments galore, shifting artistic styles and androgynous boys and girls. And I can also see elements of Charles Vess and P Craig Russell in there as well.

Finally a word on the physical comic itself. If you have an image of small press comics as some dodgy little black and white photocopy you’re in the wrong place. Vampire Free Style, like many of the current crop of great UK comics, is very professionally produced with gorgeous colour covers and crisp stark black and white interior pages in a handy A5 size. The production values of the whole thing match Jenika’s skill and artistry. Each cover is a lovely, simple image that invites you into the delightful, wistful and romantic comic inside.

Here is what indiereview.co.uk has to say about Vampire Free Style:

Jenika Ioffreda is the writer and artist of the gorgeous Vampire Free Style. Under the tag of Neptune Factory, Jenika has been producing some great comics for a while, starting back in 2002. Reading Vampire Free Style, it's hard not to love it.
In Vampire Free Style, the story feels very grand. The loss of love, and the magical element really lend to it, and it works as a story. Although, Jenika's writing, especially the dialogue can be off; some speech bubbles read slightly awkwardly and can draw you out of the story. However, the overall storyline in each issue is what works, and it's interesting to say the least.

What really shines out when reading a Jenika comic book, is her artwork. The style is a brilliant mix between simplistic Western style art and the more manga-feeling artwork. It combines to create something individual, while also being wholly recognisable. I feel it would work a lot better in full colour, but that's a triviality. And that black cat is the cutest thing you'll ever see.

Jenika shows promise, her artwork is spot on for what she's doing and with no real slip ups in each issue, you can tell she's comfortable with it, and has settled into the style. Her overall storytelling seems brilliant, and it also works as a piece overall, although some of her dialogue could use a bit more work. It's hard to recommend Jenika to anyone group in particular, but really you should check her out.

Vampire Free Style issue # 1 reviewed by Alexandra (www.sequentialtart.com)

There's not a whole lot of story development in the first issue of Vampire Free Style, but we are introduced to a variety of interesting characters. We first meet a prince who has lost his princess. His character seems to be a witch in training. At least I hope he is in training because he's not very good at broom riding. He is joined by a magical black cat that is more than what she seems and also totally adorable.

I loved the ending, which leaves you with a mystery about who these characters really are. Is the cat really a cat? Who is the lost princess? ... and who is this guy Ed who sees the cat as someone completely different. These are all questions I'm sure will be explained. In fact, I'm looking forward to it.

The art is stylistic and beautiful. It makes you want to turn the pages and truly brings the story to life. It gives the book a certain ambiance that makes you feel like magic awaits you inside. For a self published comic, it was done exceedingly well.

Vampire Free Style issue # 1 reviewed by Heath (www.thecomicfanatic.com)

"... Now, you may not have ever heard of this book before but you will. And normally I don't do this, but at the end of this review, I'm going to post a link to the place where you can find this book, because I think this book is just that good.

There are several things about this book that will stand out in your mind as you are reading it and - more importantly long after you've put it down. First and foremost, there is the creator: Jenika Ioffreda. With such an unforgettable and yeah cool name, Ioffreda could rest on her name alone for recognition, but this is a creator who is much more than a namesake.

Ioffreda handles the art and the writing on this digest-sized gem. Let's get to the art first, since that is what caught my attention first. Ioffreda has a smooth style that can range from the lifelike to the cartoony on the same panel. And Ioffreda truly brings her characters to life by packing tons of emotion into her art. This is a book that will make you laugh and get misty-eyed from the art alone but then there's the story.

Ioffreda delivers a heartbreaking gothic fairy tale of a "prince" who has lost his "princess" and doesn't know why. Trying to pick up the pieces and move on, this prince finds a new companion of sorts with a mysterious black cat he later names Micia. And as we soon discover, there is much more to this creature and the "prince" - than first meets the eye.

Don't let the title of this one fool you. This is not a horror tale. In fact, at this point, I can't even tell you how the "vampire" fits into Vampire Free Style yet.
This is a touching, magical tale that begs to be told, brought to life by some of the freshest art I have seen in ages. Two simple lines bring this book to a close: "once upon a dream. Now we have only to draw it." Here's to hoping that Ioffreda draws and writes the rest of this tale soon!"

Suggested for readers ages 9 and up.

Overall grade = A

Here is a review of Vampire Free Style issue 1 and 2 by Darren Schroeder (www.lonely.geek.nz)

"...Someone has gone missing. Her friend longs to see her again but has no clues as to what has happened to her. He should be able to track something done, seeing as he dabbles in magic and has an aunt and sister who also share his skill, but to no avail. Into his life wanders a stray black cat. He gives it a home, but the cat seems to know things about the young man and his family. She also attracts the attention of Edward, an elegant man about town who knows his share of magic and senses that the cat is more than she appears... Strongly influenced by manga storytelling techniques and graphic design, this book has a very professional quality about it. The artwork is engaging in its detail and charm. There's some great use of greyscale here as well as interesting detailing. The Goth inspired look of many of the characters is smartly done without any titillation. And the central character of the cat Micia is soooo cute!! The book uses the techniques that many will recognise from manga such as the mix of very cartonish drawings for humorous actions and more developed work for the majority of the story. In much manga this mix becomes confusing and diverts from the plot, but Jenika avoids this by keeping the plot central.The pacing on display in these two books suggests that Jenika has a long saga in mind that involves an interesting array of characters. There is a lot to keep the reader engaged in the mix of humour, mystery and magic. I'd planned just to review issue one this evening, by once I'd finished I just had to go find where I'd left issue two and read it straight away."

In a Word: Enchanting

Exhibitor review - Uk Web and Mini Comix Thing 2007 What is it: Vampire Free Style is a manga styled series of comics written drawn and published by Jenika Ioffreda, a lovely lady who likes vampires and all things dark and ookie.Why should I read it? Because of the atmospheric, gothy artwork, the engaging storyline, and the very very very cute cat. Vampire Free Style deserves to be a big favourite with the goth and manga crowdes.


Here is a review by IndyComicReview.com:

Writing: By the end of the book, I wasn't entirely sure as to what was going on and how all of these characters fit together, but I really enjoyed the humor and the sort of idealized romance that flavored this issue.
Artwork: The art was somewhere between Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and a more standard Anime style, but it still came across as its own to me. It complemented the romantic tone of the story perfectly.
Overall: 4/5 stars. This was a really sweet story that got off to a great start and left me wanting to know more about the characters and where they were going.
Alex Haas

Writing: There were a few technical/editing glitches in the book that I found distracting, but overall it was well put together. I liked the balance and blend of emotions in this title. The humor kept it from being too mopey and emo, while the
more serious feelings kept it from being to slapstick-y.
Overall: 4/5 stars. Quirky, but endearing.
Robert Weiman

: This certainly isn't the type of book that I would pick up for myself at astore. It just isn't the genre that I care to read. But after reading it, I can say that I didn't hate this book...in fact it was pretty good. I think what sold me on it was the
Artwork. Now I didn't like all the artwork as I thought the little cute Manga like touches with the cat were a bit to cutesy for me. The rest of the artwork was very good though.
As for the writing, it was interesting but it was SO jumpy that I always felt like I was trying to catch up with what was going on. Scenes and thought processes seemed to shift without warning and without having context.
Overall: 3/5 stars. Better than I anticipated as this isn't my usual taste in books. I would be curious to see where this goes in the future...as long as I can keep up with it.
Ron Miller

Here is the review from Web Comic World (www.webcomicworld.blogspot.com)

We all know the Prince and Princess stories. We know the Princess in her dress who longs for her Prince, or the Prince with a dodgy haircut who sacrifices his life for his true Princess. It's been regurgitated more times than a Britney Spears rehab scoop. How refreshing it is to see that old story given a nice little twist.
It all starts with that familiar line that you get in most fable books or fairy tales; 'The dark fable is about to start...' We are then transported to the first page which shows our Prince longing to find his Princess. Only that our Prince is dressed in very modern clothes and looks...regular.
I'm not a keen fan of anime art but the drawing in this is tight and consistent. The black and white look has been very well handled by Jenika. There are some panels with a blurry effect which look really cool. The problem I've had with anime is the lack of a respectable artistic structure. Jenika has proven to me that anime can look good and respectable, without being cartoony and a complete joke.
Not one to give too much away, Issue 1 really just sets the scene with the main character that is the Prince and a black cat that he finds and be-friends. The cat joins the Prince on his quest to find his Princess which leads them to a library with that presents us with an interesting scene. The end of this issue sets things up nicely for the following installment.
I would have like to see the relationship with the Prince and the cat developed a bit more in this issue. Their friendship seemed a bit too rushed. More dialouge from the Prince and reactions from the cat would have been a nice addition. Anyhow, I look forward to the next installment. Jenika has a simple story here that has my taste buds tickled so far...

Here is a review by Kat

Vampire free style is magical. When you open up issue no.1, you are lead into a charming night world by a saucer-eyed black cat. Because Micia can only kitty-speak like "miou" and "miaaa", the reader must piece together the mistery of where the cat comes from.
A crestfallen witch boy searches for his missing girlfriend. Meanwhile, a goateed man named Ed finds himself talking to a cat who may be in danger and needs his help.
Jenika's phrasing can be awkward sometimes (English is not her first language), but the meaning is easily grasped. The sweetness of her artwork provides a refreshing contrast with the darker story.

Here is a review by Allan from the Comic Creator Guild (www.comicscreatorsguild.co.uk):A young man, who is apparently learning to be a witch, mourns the loss of his love. Where she has gone, he knows not, but he spends much of his time desparately seeking answers. A cute black cat comes into his life one day, and though he doesn't yet know it, the young witch may find the feline is much more than she appears.

Vampire Free Style is written and drawn by Ioffreda in an unabashed Manga style. The art is strong, with a fluid line and superior figure drawing. The characters -- especially the oh-so cute cat -- come alive thanks to the artist's familiarity with depicting body language. I was reminded in places of the art of Svetlana Chmakova (Dramacon). There's a lovely full page piece of pencil art at the back, so anyone out there who fancies themselves as a Manga inker - this is the place to come to hone your skills.

It's only the first issue so the story doesn't get very far, but what is there is certainly intriguing. It's also laugh out loud funny. This is one to watch.

Vampire Free Style reviewed by Optical Sloth (www.opticalsloth.com)Who's in the mood for a good gothic fairy tale? This is the story of a prince looking for his lost princess, a witch learning how to fly, a nosy aunt who dresses up cats, a young man who is curious about the same cat, and, of course, the cat, who seems to know a lot about what's going on. It's essentially good clean fun for all ages, with some nice creepy atmospheric art. Oh, and one bleeped out "fuck", so maybe it's not going to be for all ages for long, who knows? In this issue we see the cat meet up with the witch and the curious young man and get the barest glimpse of what's to come, but luckily I got the next few issues along with this one in the mail so it won't be a mystery for long. I'm a bit mystified about the price, but let's say around $5 and leave it at that as that's a gorgeous cover and it's a pretty thick book. Of course, you could always just wander around that website listed above, maybe contact Jenika and find out for yourself..


Due to a mispelling on the back cover of some Vampire Free Style issue 1(first print) it has been quoted a piece of review by "www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com" wrongly written as "www.silverbulletcomics.com" we apologize for the mistake.