Comics on the Can: Ahab Van Helsing vs Nosferatu Carcharodon (The Vampire Shark comic)

GameStop, Inc.

COMICS on the CAN
Ahab Van Helsing Vs Nosferatu Carcharodon
Written by: Marc Von Ahnen Art: Gary McCluskey Letters: Johnathan Sims

(Somebody scratches his fingernails across a chalkboard in the back of
the town meeting room. Everyone is startled, annoyed and then looks
around, to see Captain Colbert standing there, beside a chalk-drawing of a
huge shark reading a comic book — a bit of foreshadowing there)
Colbert: You all know me. You know how I earn a livin’. I’ll review this bird
for ya, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad comic! Not like goin’ down to the
comic shop chasing Wolverine or that bisexual Superman fella (honestly
don’t see what the big deal is; it’s all love). This comic will swallow you
whole. Baggin’. Boarding. Down you go. Now we got to do it quick, six
issues tops. That’ll bring back the readers and it’ll put all your businesses
on a payin’ basis. But it’s not gonna be pleasant. I value my neck a lot more
than a random comic you came across on Facebook, Chief. I’ll find him for
three, but I’ll catch him and review him for ten. You’ve got to make up your
minds. Gonna stay readin and ante up? Or want to play it cheap, be on
comixology the whole winter. I don’t want no volunteers. I don’t want no
mates. There’s too many reviewers on this island. Ten thousand dollars for
me by myself. For that, you get the first issue, the final issue, the whole
damn thing.
“Ok, you got me with the vampire shark thing, I’ll get the comic.”
That’s how it started – A facebook post of a vampire shark as Ariel of The
Little Mermaid at the climax of “Part of your world” and the strangely titled
“Ahab Van Helsing Vs Nosferatu Carcharodon” (which, though I wasn’t
100% sure but from context, meant Vampire Shark). Now as you must
realize that being a lifelong comic book reader the simple idea of a vampire
shark is enough to draw me in. That utterly silly cover gave me something
beyond morbid curiosity, it gave me hope. Hope that the batshit crazy idea
at the core of this comic was just the beginning. Hope that Von Ahen and
his team could deliver something beyond the “simple” idea of a shark biting
a vampire and thus getting all the strengths and weaknesses of an undead
stalker of the night. Hope that this comic could live up to the outrageous
potential presented.
Cause when you come right down to it, is a vampire shark story able to be
more than the wackadoodle idea of a vampire shark?
Ummmm, yeah!
This is no small praise here; if John Carpenter ever did a vampire shark
movie this would be it.
I’ve been burned by independent comics before ( See Jurassic Strike
Force 5 or Black Jack Comics trio) and AHvsNC certainly LOOKED like it
had all the indie comic trappings. AKA: competent but still indie vibing b&W
art and storytelling mistakes that a novice would make. Something that
originated from a night of really skunky bong rips, a party size bag of
Funyuns and watching a double feature of “Salem’s Lot” and “Sharknado”
with some miraculous follow through. So I didn’t really expect much from
the book except for some half baked ideas and a forced commitment to see
this thing through.
What I got instead is a very silly but fully developed story with rising
tension and stakes (pun intended). A loving tribute to the low budget/high
concept “horror” films that used to fill the middle to lower shelves of your
video store and now drive your netflix algorithm. And a wicked sense of
humor.
The story opens like several Carpenter films: a sleepy oceanside town.
Von Ahnen and McCluskey do a great job of establishing atmosphere: a
Shark fin slicing out of the moonlit water, a barking dog, a nosferatu type
vampire on top of a bait and tackle store. The set up plays out EXACTLY
how you’d figure it would; the vampire attacks fisherman, the blood attracts
the shark, the shark eats the vampire. When two apex predators meet only
one will come out alive, or is that UNDEAD?
Police chief James Van Helsing (naturally) and his deputy clock a strange
trench coat wearing guy the next morning. The guy, named Victor, is
carrying a lot of garlic, crosses and holy water and falls into “suspicious
stranger” slot in these types of stories from Van Helsing’s perspective. Of
course Victor becomes the prime suspect when the fisherman killed by the
vampire washes up on shore and the chief puts him in cuffs.
Now anybody who has seen or read anything faintly resembling this type
of story has a pretty good idea how things’ll play out. Victor becomes the
exposition dump about vampires, the chief eventually teams up after he
gets over the whole “That can’t be possible” bit and they kill the vampire
(Shark). And for a while AVHvdNC (hereafter referred to as “The Vampire
Shark story”) sticks to that arc. The book seems to head in a well worn
direction.
Then the story goes, unexpectedly and deliciously, off the rails. Mr Vampire
Shark gets super bite happy with fellow sea life and turns all manner of
ocean dwelling beings into vampires. Pretty soon the town is flooded with
vampire bluefin tuna, devil rays and starfish. All of them flying around
feeding on hapless townsfolk! Victor, having done his exposition duties
says “Fuck this noise, I’m OUT!” and bails. Leaving Van Helsing and his
deputy to defend the town. Van Helsing progressively loses body parts (an
eye, a leg, a hand) turning him into a classic pirate archetype. He never
wavers, he just gets more determined.
The story ends in the only way a vampire shark story smart enough to
understand its roots can – The shark is defeated but there is a last second
twist because who can resist one more jump scare.
Von Ahnen piles crazy on top of crazy but never loses control of the story.
He finds fun ways to tease out the outrageous ideas, build tension in the
story, guide the plot to an expected but no less fun conclusion and
manages to squeeze in some humor along the way. Personally I never
really considered a vampire walrus till issue 5 of this book.
McCluskey’s art seems to have the vibe of indie comics at first impression
but closer examination shows subtleties, well drawn hands (that eventually
become hooks) and a valiant attempt to visually harness the sheer insanity
of the text. Personally I never really considered what a vampire walrus
would look like till issue 5 of this book.
Sure, all the characters are stock, no monologue about how emotionally
taxing it is to be a cop or whatnot. Van Helsing’s inner life is probably filled
with whiskey, a hungry man tv dinner and rage at the ex-wife. The
emotional range of characters spans from unbridled panic to “I’m too old for
this shit” anger but, Christ, this is a comic book about a fucking vampire
shark; I ain’t looking for “Maus” nor should I find that. I didn’t watch “The
Fog” for the award caliber acting! I was there for a creepy ghost story,
Donald Pleasance gorging himself on scenery and Adrienne Barbeau’s
bust size! I want art I’ll watch fucking “Gandhi”.
“The Vampire Shark story” is in the middle of a venn diagram of John
Carpenter, modern vampire lore and Sharknado. It’s self aware enough to
know what it is, clever enough to have maximum fun with it and shameless
enough to make no apologies. If only other indie comics were smart
enough to play it this dumb.
I can’t wait for the SYFY Channel adaptation.

If you want copies of this 6 issue series in either digital or physical copies
contact Marc Von Ahnen: [email protected]
https://www.facebook.com/VampireSharks
DM directly at https://www.facebook.com/marc.vonahnen

Instagram at Marc Von Ahnen

Things tangential to the main column I couldn’t fit in organically

Bi-sexual Superman. Ok, big fuckin deal! John Kent can still punch out
giant alien robots, right? As long as his romantic partner(s) don’t get
chopped up and put in a fridge, I’m ok with it.

I now have a guideline of trying new snacks out of “Morbid curiosity” it’s
why I tried green tea kit kats (meh), Grapples (nope) and “Steakhouse
onion pringles” (tasted like the dip you get with the steakhouse onion)

.
It’s a scientific fact that an average of 63% of a steakhouse onion goes
uneaten. Even with a party of 6. This is science.

You notice that modern vampire shows have to deal with the fact that
EVERYBODY knows vampire lore? Usually there is a line about “Is this like
what we think we know about vampires” or “Yeah, yeah I know what a
vampire is!” to “Well, A steak through the heart would kill anybody TBH!”

The funniest show on TV “What we do in the shadows” runs on the ironic
juxtaposition of fearsome supernatural creatures being clueless, self
obsessed knuckleheads.

Serious: Vampire Angler fish mesmerizing horny dudes to see beautiful,
naked women. It’s what I’d do if I were a vampire angler fish!

Jus gonna put this here: Vampire dolphin anal.

Next: maybe something out of the box

Later: Hopefully something as weird as The Vampire Shark book!

Anytime Costumes

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