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BLOOD OF THE VIRGIN by Sammy Harkham Kirkus Star


by Sammy Harkham ; illustrated by Sammy Harkham

Pub Date: May 2nd, 2023
ISBN: 9780593316696
Publisher: Pantheon

The monsters aren’t just on screen in this lurid graphic novel from Harkham about a horror-film editor with dreams of directing, his dissatisfied wife, his manipulative boss, and his alcoholic and occasionally violent colleagues.

Seymour loves horror movies and came to Hollywood to make them. In 1971, he mostly works as an editor at a small studio, but one day his boss wants to buy a script that Seymour has been shopping around. Despite his initial hesitation that the script isn’t right for the film his boss wants to make to satisfy an investor, Seymour seizes the opportunity. His commitment to his work causes tension with his wife, Ida, who regularly berates him for neglecting household responsibilities but tolerates the all-night, drug-fueled debaucheries Seymour attends at his boss’s mansion. Though Ida repeatedly rebuffs Seymour’s amorous advances, while he’s away she pleasures herself on the couch while their baby wails from another room. When the shoot of Seymour’s script faces logistical pressures, the studio gives Seymour an even bigger opportunity (enough rope to hang himself with?), and Ida takes their son on an open-ended visit to her family in New Zealand, where she spends time with childhood friends, including an old flame. Harkham weaves a psychologically complex tale, balancing the bad behavior of Hollywood with an intriguingly pragmatic look at the moviemaking process. Seymour’s passion for film and his conflicted conscience keep us reasonably sympathetic to him as he self-destructs, perhaps mostly because of his desire for Ida even as his stresses and urges don’t exactly keep him committed to her. Harkham’s text delivers punchy banter and sly sound effects, while his exceptionally expressive art is equal parts comic strip and cinema.

A finely crafted look at the complexities and grotesqueries of Hollywood and the human heart.