With distinctive wit, writer/producers Steve Kriozere (“NCIS”) and Mark A. Altman (“Castle”) present “Elvis Van Helsing.” This was intended to be a TV show so that provides added interest to the graphic novel that resulted in 2010. In this case, the graphic novel stands alone very nicely as offbeat horror.
Elvis Yang is a 20-something who would be quite content to have no goals for the rest of his life, just be a whirling dervish. However, during his six years (and counting) as an undergrad, he has demonstrated flashes of sheer brilliance. It has attracted the likes of Bob Woodward and Stephen King. If Elvis needs something, these guys have his back.
Kriozere and Altman have faithfully captured that wating, that unfocused yearning, for greatness experienced by an endless array of “losers” quietly aging on a multitude of campuses. But Elvis is supposed to be different, right? He’s the slacker that makes it, right? Kriozere and Altman leave you guessing.
The artwork by Jason Baroody and the production by Zach Matheny are sympathetic to this kind of deadpan goofy humor. Even after Elvis discovers his true calling as Elvis Van Helsing, heir to a distinguished traditon of killing off vampires, demons, and various ghoulies, the action remains disconnected and low-key. Kinda cool, huh? That said, the art is not dull. It’s dynamic in its own way, in an ironic cool way. I’d call it a “sarcastic flatness.” Or maybe it’s an endearing flatness. Either way, it works.
Why do I like “Elvis Van Helsing”? Well, because it’s the sort of thing I would be proud to say I had written. It runs the risk of being misunderstood but it is a risk worth taking. If you’re going to take an offbeat path, then embrace it, baby. And that’s what this creative team does with this graphic novel.
It’s also important to point out that this story, while unconventional, it not just random. You’ve got a well crafted plot with characters that have key roles to play. The whole dynamic between Elvis and the couple who adopted him is intriguing. He’s an Anglo surfer dude and his parents are a traditional Korean couple. Their idea of letting loose is singing karaoke after dinner, especially Elvis songs. Evis’s best friend, Randy, is a perfect foil as an even less focused version of Elvis, if that’s even possible. And then you’ve got two beauties competing for the mind and soul, if not heart, of Elvis: Vanessa, a Vamparella type; and Ariel a seductive and mysterious blonde who will only meet after midnight.
The payoff to this graphic novel is that you have a journey worth taking. Ultimately, you get a story about a dude way over his head, on some excellent adventures that leave you wanting more. Along the way, Elvis Yang becomes Elvis Van Helsing, the heir to the greatness he’d been searching for but was clueless about. Has he grown wiser? Was he wise all along? That is the enigma worth exploring.
“Elvis Van Helsing” is an offbeat horror graphic novel that provides twists and turns to an overall engaging story.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Comics Grinder will publish an exclusive interview this Wednesday with Steve Kriozere, the co-creator with Mark A. Altman, of the hit show, “Femme Fatales.”