If you like your seasonal spookiness kind and romantic, then Fangs by Sarah Andersen will be just right for you. In a series of punchlined pages, it gently tells the story of a vampire and a werewolf dating and finding out just how compatible they are.
Andrews McMeel Publishing
September 1, 2020
As the book starts out, a petite goth woman and a long haired plaid-wearing guy meet at a bar. While Jimmy and Elsie may look like many straight white couples in their mid-twenties, they are, in fact, a fairly ancient vampire dating a werewolf.
Surprisingly, it turns out they make a great couple.
They have a lot in common, and their differences are compatible in a way that reminds me of Gomez and Morticia Addams. They respect each other’s proclivities, even those they don’t share, and help each other in ways only they can. When the werewolf is too warm, the vampire spoons him with her ice-cold body. Everybody wins!
After meeting in the bar and starting to date, the couple gets more established as the book progresses. There are a few splash pages of Elsie posing, but most of the pages of the book are divided into a few panels, and each page has its own punch line. In that way, this feels more like a collection than a graphic novel. There’s a premise and progression, but not really a plot. Though the content is dissimilar, the overall structure reminds me of the Phoebe and her Unicorn books, where each page could stand alone, but doesn’t have to.
Notably, the punchlines are kind. The humor comes from seeing a vampire and werewolf in domestic situations, or dealing with contemporary life generally, rather than from any mocking or pratfalls. Even though there is some comedic violence associated with the couple’s…monstrous status, they don’t punch down on each other and they are really the only two characters.
People who know Sarah Andersen’s work primarily from Sarah’s Scribbles will feel comfortable with the pacing of her jokes in Fangs, but may find the content and art style surprising. The Sarah’s Scribbles characters are squat and stylized, like a chibi loved a rectangle very much.
In contrast, the art in Fangs is much more realistic, and the characters are drawn as conventionally attractive and sometimes show some skin in pin-up style drawings. There are some sex jokes! It still maintains a quiet and quirky gentleness, which suits the subject matter of a couple exploring their daily life together, making the monsters feel like they’re living in a slice of life comic rather than the more dramatic narratives we might expect for them.
Fangs hit the monthly New York Times bestseller list for “Graphic Books and Manga” in October, just in time for true spooky season to set in. If the United States was going to have a regular Halloween instead of a Pandemic Halloween, I’d be looking forward to people-watching in midtown, trying to tell which couples were dressed as the vampire and werewolf from Fangs, and which were just dressed for the day, living their lives.
I read Fangs as an ebook to review it, but I yearn for the physical book. It’s a small hardcover book, bright red, with a clean art nouveau-inspired posed picture of the vampire in black on the front. It looks extremely satisfying to hold, and I imagine it would make a wonderful gift book for either member of the couple in your own life who reminds you of Elsie and Jimmy.