I was recently telling a friend of mine about Pete, Drinker of Blood
by Scott S. Phillips – a friend who isn’t really big on genre fiction – describing the lovable schlub of a vampire who is our Pete, how he’s the antithesis of cool or fancy or popular, kinda stuck in the 70s classic rock milieu that existed when he turned. (I’ve been joking with my man about how my brain keeps calling this “Pee-Drinker of Blood,” which doesn’t really work grammatically, but the brain wants what it wants. Like Bear Grylls.) And my friend was like, you know? That’s actually really clever.
And it is pretty clever, and I hadn’t really noticed. Vampires in the modern vernacular tend to be these aristocratic fancypantses, whose long life is synonymous with compound interest and vast holdings, the long con of wealth in its longest form. The vamps in urban fantasy or its kissing cousin, paranormal romance – which is UF with sex scenes, as far as I’m concerned – tend to be these tragic, fopsy folk, mired in apologetic noblesse oblige, who get thrown a bang by wide-eyed waitresses and students for being soooo soorrry that they raped and murdered their way into wealth and long life. Let me pull my sexy sadface long enough for the ladies to drop trou.
Which can be awesome, don’t get me wrong. I kinda love the parts in Buffy when Angel gets all emo about how evil he was as Angelus, eating rats all soulful-like. (I might love it more when they flashback to when he was Angelus, because Boreanaz’s really bad Irish accent plus the serious television-budget minimalism of the “gradeur” makes for an unintentionally funny mix.) Nobody really writes blue collar comedies anymore – I think the last one of note was Roseanne, though I don’t really follow sit-coms – but they are especially thin on the ground in UF/PNR. A case could be made for the Sookie books, what with the fangbangers
and all the folksiness of Sookie’s Wal*Mart fashions, but that’s not really a comedy, right? Certainly not intentionally, the inherent funniness of banana clips factoring into a love scene with a straight face notwithstanding.
So, Pete’s a hopeless dork long before he became a vampire, and a hopeless dork for decades after. He’s plugging along in a hopeless job, in a hopeless apartment, with hopeless and moldering interests. And I’m making this sound like a drag, but it’s so not. Pete is finally working up to hitting on a cheerful waitress when the dude who turned him comes back to town with fell and dire purpose. Apparently, killing regular folk isn’t working anymore, so Pete’s sire has to pee-drink the blood of vampires to stay alive. (Or undead, whatever.) Pete’s gotta get the band back together, which means heading to Club Emoglobin (seriously, best vamp club name ever) to deal with the dickweeds who constitute the sire vamp’s gets. Which doesn’t go that well.
Here’s where the really great class commentary comes in, because there are all of these beautiful, hilarious, bathetic character sketches for
hipsters vampires who have self-styled with the douchiest of names, things like Lord Greystoke, only that’s not really one of them. You know what I mean, because I’m not looking it up. Pete woos his lady and does some goat-sucking, drives around in a tragic, classic car, and generally is the kind of dude who has a lot of band tee-shirts and heart. He manages to get a lot of people wearing way too much velvet to go kick some sire ass, and it’s wonderful and simple and ordinary how he comes into his gross new powers and love and stuff. I just want to rub Pete on his belly. Who’s got your belly, Pete?
I was writing along with the installments as Pete, Drinker of Blood
was coming out as a serial novel – though I understand that the individual parts are coming down now that this is completed and edited for minor continuity errors and the like. Gotta say, I’m jazzed I don’t have to do that anymore, because, boy, does that get spoilerful after about the fourth. Anyway, here’s my disclosure: Scott is a friend, and my man did the layout for the final cover. (And all of the covers for the serializations are collected in the final draft, which is pretty adorable.) Pete, Drinker of Blood
is an awesome, hilarious, funny bit of splatterstick horror-comedy, and I just had a blast reading it out over the last whatever months. Halloween is a-coming in. Maybe this’ll do you right.