Vertigo Comics has announced that it will launch American Vampire, a uniquely Yankee take on the vampire mythos, in March 2010, with contribution from pop culture fanatic Stephen King. The series is the brainchild of author Scott Snyder, whose 2006 critically-acclaimed short story collection Voodoo Heart caught King's attention - he contributed a blurb for the jacket, and selected two of its pieces for the shortlist of the 2007 Best American Short Stories anthology - and the two struck up a correspondence. When Snyder asked King for another blurb for the planned comic series, King was excited enough by the premise to offer up his writing skills - an offer Synder couldn't refuse.
King will contribute to the first five issues by telling the story of Skinner Sweet, the first American vampire, a murderous sociopath bearing rattlesnake fangs and able to walk about in the sun - indeed, gaining strength from it. In a comic book throwback to the Ace Doubles of yore, Snyder will also write the tale of Pearl, a 1920s era flapper who was one of Skinner's first victims. The first five 32 page issues will be divided between the two authors and storylines; Snyder will take full reins on the title after that, detailing Skinner's descendants. Artwork will be provided by Rafael Albuquerque. You can see sketches for the project here.
In his statements so far, Snyder sounds grateful for King's contributions - adding a variety of story levels and amping up the gore - but takes pains to establish the book and concept as his baby. It was over thirty years ago that King revolutionized the vampire tale with Salem's Lot, and with his creations The Dark Tower, The Stand and The Talisman (with Peter Straub) finding new life on the comic book page, American Vampire has to be one of the more intriguing projects announced for the new year, and one more reason to get this horror fan back into the comic store.