Books to Look Out For #5: Twilight, the Manga Series

Yup, it had to be done, first there was the book, the film, the fan-fics and the re-caps (this one will always be my favourite), and now comes the inevitable Manga series of the constipated love-struck famous vampire-human couple to hit us in this decade. To be fair, I used to read a lot of graphic novels as a teenager (still read random ones here and there!) and it’s easy to see the appeal of reading Twilight as a graphic novel than a conventional novel.

20130208_123528(That’s two books put together from a whole series of volumes of the novel)

There’s been some criticism of the novel already, but the book has already made major sales in its first week, and to give the artist (Young Kim) credit, the art-work looks quite good. Certainly they’ve captured Edward’s pastiness quite well, and Jacob’s wolf-iness. Now I’m just waiting for a manga version of Where’s Wally and 50 Shades of Grey, and the literary world is complete.

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“Physician steal thyself” – A Doctor Disappears

Richard T. Kelly’s ‘The Possessions of Doctor Forrest‘ implies, at first, a straightforwardly ordinary, although puzzling tale. The novel’s central character is a Scottish cosmetic surgeon, who, from its very opening, has gone missing – much to the concern of two of his closest friends. And the clues he has left behind are sparse, leaving not much insight into his lifestyle, the people he loved, or the possible reasons for his disappearance. But this is a horror story, and one which creeps up on you slowly, and Kelly creates a eerie atmosphere which leaves both the readers and the doctor’s friends unsure about what has happened, but very aware that something is very wrong. drforrest

Always throughout this nove, is some form of reference to an Other, a supernatural influence in the story, which the grounded best friends are unable to accept with their sceptical minds, yet they are unable to ignore that fact there are surreal acts at play which cannot simply be explained away. As they begin to delve into their old friend Doctor Forrest’s life, they begin to realise how his personality is but a mere mask for his real feelings and intentions, and hides a persona they never knew.

And of course, as with these revelations come the Faustian motif – as life, youth and eternity which are constantly being examined are valued, so is emphasised the price that needs to be paid – a theme of life and death which are always inevitably coupled. Doctor Forrest’s secrets and his thirst for more in life are slowly unravelled, layers of which lie with the various encounters he has with people and with relationships he has with not only them, but with the journeys he takes to reach his ambitions.

And of course, as with these revelations come the Faustian motif – as life, youth and eternity which are constantly being examined are valued, so is emphasised the price that needs to be paid – a theme of life and death which are always inevitably coupled. Doctor Forrest’s secrets and his thirst for more in life are slowly unravelled, layers of which lie with the various encounters he has with people and with relationships he has with not only them, but with the journeys he takes to reach his ambitions.

Without giving too much away, suffice to say that Doctor Forrest and his companions are slowly drawn into the world of mystique, darkness and the supernatural. And just as the disappearance of the doctor is not explained away simply, nor is his descent into his final destination any less complex. There are familiar gothic literary devices peppered throughout, the use of landscape to create an eerie atmosphere, the symbolism of blood, the theme of isolation throughout the novel, and so on.

The Possessions of Doctor Forrest is not a novel which rushes, it builds up tension gradually, reflected through the prisms of each narrator’s concerns, as family-men, career-men and as spiritualists. While the settings are of a modern landscape, that of present-day Scotland and London, the behaviours of the characters and the feelings which are emanated feel classic and timeless – that of the idea of sin, of wanting to live forever, of love and of what it means to be man. This novel harks back to the styles of classic novels, that of Dorian Gray, Dracula and Frankenstein, where the quest to be something greater is bound up with not only the spooky supernatural, but the premise of man’s fallacy and the inevitability of choices which must be made.

Or, as one blogger summed up:

 “The Possessions of Doctor Forrest” wears its learning lightly, and creates something dark, modern and terrifying from it. Brilliant.”

Fairy Tales & Long Tails: The Top 10 Vampires List

I’ve always liked vampires in literature (and films), until Tweelight and the Sparkly RPatz gang kinda ruined it for me. I share the sentiments of this genius lady’s ranting on that point.

Anyhoo, I thought I’d compile a list of Top Ten vampires which are either the most notorious or just super-cool vampyres. They’ve been there through the years, from the stories of Hungarian duchesses drinking blood of young virgins for eternal youth, to films of today, including Johnny Depp’s recent ‘Dark Shadows’ (which I have yet to see!)

10. RPatz aka. Edward CullenTwilight
I didn’t really want to include this vampy, but thought he needed a mention because of how famous he’s become. Set in Ess Meyer’s Twilight trilogy, this vampire is the ultimate romantic gentleman, he’s watches you while you sleep, controls himself from sipping on your sweet, sweet blood and generally promoting all things education, abstinence and not chomping on weak humans. And oh, his tortured soul which sparkles his very innocence and his pure love. Or something.

9. Dr Acula – J.D., Scrubs
Okay, not really a renowned vampire. Or a very successful one. But it still makes me giggle. This undercover vampire who screens as a doctor by day is the brainchild of J.D. from Scrubs – although for some reason, never got made into that biopic he envisioned. I have no idea why. He’s a doctor AND a vampire!

8. LestatThe Vampire Chronicles: Interview with a Vampire, Queen of the Dead
Lestat is the vampire most recognisable as Tom Cruise, the long-haired sissy turned blood-sucker who philosophies, dallies around and turns Brad Pitt into a vampire who disappoints him by bleeding chickens dry. Perhaps not really a hero, Lestat is nevertheless an interesting character who is hard to kill, charismatic and diverse – at one point he even becomes a rock star!

7. Vlad the Drac Vlad the Drac series, Ann Jungman
Just because I remember reading these books this as a teeny tot. Vlad is the ultimate (and tiny) vegetarian vampire who blesses the reluctant Stone family with his presence by choosing to stay with them, and getting up to all sorts of naughtiness. With a diet of household liquids (washing up liquid, shoe polish, soap) and hiding his vegetarianism from his traditional family, Vlad covers his identity with a bottle of ketchup and tall tales of eating the milk-man. Great fun : )

6. Count von Count Sesame Street
The Count who taught us how to count, in a very slow, breathy way and with Romany music. No signs of blood-sucking, hiding from the sun or sleeping in coffins for this vamp, so that us kids were protected from the traumas of vampirism and instead exposed to him counting EVERYTHING. “When I’m alone, I count myself. One count!” Ah ha ha ha…

5. VampiraMaila Nurmi, Plan 9 from Outer Space
This is the only female vampire in the list (probably because vampires are usually seen in the male role who attack the weak helpless women) – yet she is quite an iconic figure. With one seriously thin waistline to rival Dita von Teese, and pale skin to fit the list, Vampira is sexy, disturbing and weird all in one. Although I’m sure that Maila Nurmi probably never even played a vampire, her career was based on the image of one, and it was pretty much spent mocking the gothic roles, and was made famous by director Ed Wood’s flop film ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space‘.

4. BladeWesley Snipes, Marvel Comics
Quite possible the most kick-ass vampire of them all, Blade is the mixed-race vamp who can walk in daylight and still drink blood of us puny humans. He’s like the Chuck Norris of vampires – the hero who becomes a vampire hunter just by beating the living daylights out of them. And he’ll give you a smart-ass comment before he kills you too.

3. AngelDavid Boreanaz, created by Joss Wheden
Our favourite vampire romance, featuring Buffy and her boy Angel, this is a man of few words and fewer facial expressions. While he battles for good and has a human soul, he’ll break the habit every now and then to go evil and get his vamp on. But fear not, he’ll become commercialised and gets his very own corporate business to run happily ever after, with his own team of evil-slayers.

2. DraculaBram Stoker
The original vampire in fiction, this is a timeless character which has been depicted time and time again by many actors, cartoons, puppets and even text-based role-playing games (yes I had one. It was awful). With a name that’s become synonymous with the word ‘vampire’, the original story behind Dracula is a lot less gory and a little more spooky, involving a hero called Jonathan Harker in a chase to defeat the mysterious Dracula who has employed him. Perhaps most famously played by Bela Lugosi, this character really is a bit scary, with a death scare that could only be matched by my mother

1. NosferatuCount Orlock/Count Dracula
Although Dracula was more notorious, ever since Nosferatu scared the living crap out of me as a child, it’s stuck in my mind as the creepiest (and most geriatric) vampire of them all. Technically, Nosferatu is just a rip-off of Dracula, where the directors of the original were unable to get permission to use the names in ‘Dracula’ but as a result, this vampire has become just as famous as the original, and just as creepy. Although I did like the Willem Dafoe version.

There’s always going to be something to add to this list of vampires, whether it the newer interpretations, real-life history cases or just a random squidgy vampire from Spongebob Squarepants. Vampires can be creepy or alternative just good entertainment (think Buffy the movie), they may not be to everyone’s taste but I can guarantee you this – everytime you now type in ‘vampire’ on the internetz, you’ll be sure to find a Twilight sparkle reference 😀