Vampire Free Style reviewed by Robert Porter - A Place to Hang Your Cape

Today, we will be taking a look at Vampire Free Style: The Graphic Novel, a collected edition that includes books one through six!
Published by Neptune Factory, Vampire Free Style is written, drawn, and colored by creator Jenika Ioffreda. Before we begin, I'd like to be perfectly honest about something. When I received this book for review, I was a little put off at first. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed Bram Stoker's Dracula many times, and watched plenty of Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee Dracula films, so one might say that I am a fan of "old school" vampire stories. I felt that with the publication of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series of novels and the subsequent film adaptations, the whole vampire thing got way out of control, straying far from its bloody roots. Having said that, as I made my way through Vampire Free Style, I found that it is actually quite inventive in its execution and that even I, a jaded fan of vampire fiction, found things to like about it. So, with that out of the way, let's sink our teeth into Vampire Free Style!

Vampire Free Style is similar to many other stories of its kind in that it is, at its core, a love story. The plot follows Padroncino, an aspiring witch who is trying to make contact with Elea, his lost love who disappeared mysteriously. Then there's Edward, a darkly dressed young man who has a strange connection to Elea's disappearance, although he is not sure how or why. A little (read: adorable) black cat begins following Pardoncino around early on, and after a chance encounter with Edward and his crew of misfits, the cat causes Edward to experience strange hallucinations that give clues to his vague past as well as to Elea's whereabouts. Eventually, we learn of the existence of the "Umbra Luna," a magical pendant that is the key to finding Elea, as well as the secret of Edward's true nature (dun dun dunnnnnn). Admittedly, I found some of the "lovesick-ness" of Pardoncino a bit goofy, but that's really just a matter of taste and opinion. I think Ioffreda knows who her target audience is, and that's the bottom line here.

Ioffreda does a nice job of tying all the threads together, and the story never feels disjointed or choppy. There are also some good comedic moments in Vampire Free Style, many of which relate to Padroncino's "Auntie Margherita." You never get to see Auntie Margherita's face, and she is often shown from the knees down, which reminded me of Muppet Babies a bit (+10). There is also a running gag where Auntie Margherita continuously snatches Micia (the aforementioned cat) up off the floor and forces "cute" outfits upon her, which I found especially amusing.

The artwork in Vampire Free Style is very reminiscent of something you might see in manga, complete with comedic, over-the-top reactions and expressions such as the "sweat drop" that many of you might be familiar with. These expressions work especially well during Auntie Margherita's "torture" of Micia, or while Padroncino clumsily practices witchcraft. While the art style helps to lighten the tone when necessary, it also allows Ioffreda to easily depict her characters in a variety of emotional states; it's simple and effective, and compliments the story very nicely. I'd also like to add that Ioffreda's cover artwork is consistently well done for each book, with the second cover being my personal favorite (but, uh…don't tell anyone I said that, okay? Don't want to ruin my street cred). Take a look:

What's the deal with the cats lately? I feel like I'm always writing about cats in some way, shape, or form…I mean, not that I'm complaining… it's just odd. Yes, hmm… very odd, indeed.

If you're into vampire-love stories, Vampire Free Style is absolutely for you. It also shows heavy influence from the fantasy genre, what with all the Fairy God-Mothers, invisible castles, and witchcraft, which I personally enjoyed quite a bit. It's got the manga thing going for it as well, so I can also recommend it to fans of that particular genre. Something I'd like to note is that the ending of Vampire Free Style is somewhat open in that it doesn't necessarily depict everything that you might expect; read it and you'll see what I mean. Whether it was intentionally left this way to set up further Vampire stories has yet to be established, but nevertheless the ending is satisfying enough and one could easily draw their own conclusions from what is actually shown.
My final thoughts on Vampire Free Style are that it is a light-hearted, often humorous love story that managed to gain my attention, even after my initial reservations about it. This just goes to show that you cannot judge a book by its cover… or rather, I should not. While my relationship with the vampire fiction genre has been left strained since the late 1990s/early 2000s, I can honestly say that I enjoyed Vampire Free Style. I can recommend it to fans of the genre (especially younger or newer fans), or if you are just looking for something a little different you might find yourself pleasantly surprised by it. Vampire Free Style can be purchased here, along with some other neat Vampire goodies. Give it a stab, I say! You know… with a stake?

 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 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.
4 of 5 stars

 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”.