Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse, Book 1: Animator
written by Laurell K. Hamilton
illustrated by Ron Lim
Anita Blake is one of the best at what she does, though what she does isn’t very nice. She’s an animator—one who can raise zombies—but that’s just her day job. She’s also a licensed vampire executioner and helps out the police with supernatural cases as an aide to the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team, aka “Spook Squad.” All of those things have the potential to give her nightmares, but right now it’s her work with the Squad that’s keeping her up late. After a family is found eaten, the suspicion naturally falls on animators as zombies are the most likely culprits. But Anita’s investigation quickly gets her on the wrong side of a powerful voodoo priestess who will use any means to get revenge.
Animator is the first section of The Laughing Corpse, the second book of Hamilton’s mega-popular Anita Blake novel series, but fans who don’t know much about Anita should still be able to pick up the threads of her life and follow the story. Adapted into graphic novel form, Hamilton’s dark prose seems even more stripped down and noir. It’s an effective way to get readers into the head of the titular vampire killer. Anita is a no-nonsense person who is haunted by the thought that she may be as much of a monster as the monsters she is sent to kill. This fear grows in The Laughing Corpse since she is called upon to use her “affinity with the dead,” a power she is not completely comfortable with. The side characters—from the policemen to Jean-Claude, the master vampire—don’t resonate quite as clearly as Anita does. It’s obvious that this is her story.
In this volume, Hamilton ups the action and gore with scenes of brutal murder and zombie attack. Lim’s artwork is more than up to the job when it comes to horror or action. Occasionally, though, his characters seem more like automatons than real people. There are times when their faces do not show the emotions that they say they are feeling. Everyone is attractive or unattractive, depending upon Hamilton’s original description, but at the beginning of the series, they still seem two-dimensional. Fans will be pleased to see details such as Anita’s penguin collection, her scars, and the hideous bridesmaid dress she is forced into. Essentially every element of the story flows just as it did in the original book, so readers familiar with Anita’s world will be pleased and new fans who start with the graphic novel series will have an easy transition over to the novels. Libraries with Hamilton fans should consider this series as a way to interest readers in a new format of the stories they love, though, like the novels, this goes in the adult section.