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Waiting for Hellsing

I can tell that I ought to be grading papers because I find myself reading at breakneck speed. I got Hellsing 6 and 7 at Schuler’s the other day but they didn’t have vol 8. I charged through Hellsing 6 and 7 — when is Alucard going to show back up! — and now I’m waiting for vol. 8 and 9 to arrive from Amazon. I even had dreams about trying to get them. I was running around in various book stores and trying to order from Japan, etc., etc.

While I was at Schuler’s, I saw that there is now a manga version Vampire Hunter D. Vampire Hunter D is pretty great. I first encountered a movie version of D when I was in grad school. My good friend Jim and I decided to go see the movie when it came out in the theaters. That was in 2001. I remember us (correct my if I’m wrong, Jim) sitting in the theater after the movie finished and saying “What?!?!……” It was a great film but we were rather thrown off by the fact that D has a face in his left hand called “Left Hand.” Nine years later I’ve found out that we saw Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust which is the sequel to the 1985 Vampire Hunter D.

D with Lefty

Before the movies and the new manga series, there was a novel series called Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi. There are currently 20 volumes out in Japan and something like 11 volumes translated into English. The writing is good enough. The stories tend to be of the damsel in distress variety. D’s utter and complete implacability makes it all the more fascinating when he is weakened or in danger, although, not unlike Alucard, this rarely happens.

But Yoshitaka Amano’s illustrations steal the show. The original novels feature color images on the cover and then 7 or 8 images inside. Whereas the anime version of D is a bit comical, Amano renders him utterly beautiful, surreal graceful.

Yoshitaka Amano’s D. Click on the image for a full size version.

D is also feminine here but that is Amano’s aesthetic. Compare Amano’s D with the version of D for the forthcoming Vampire Hunter D: American Waste Land series.

The D for the American Waste Landseries is handsome and brooding, not unlike the over vampire heros we favor. But Kikuchi describes D as being “other worldly” in his beauty and I think Amano’s illustrations capture that odd mix of beauty and grace.

Alas, the manga is not illustrated by Amano.

The cover of the manga.

Amano has done other work that American readers might be familiar with. He worked on Elektra and Wolverine: The Redeemer and more recently collaborated with Neil Gaiman on Sandman 11: The Dream Hunters.

Check out Wolverine in the bottom panel.

Amano’s work is just terrified. So now I just need to get someone to buy me Coffin: The Art of Vampire Hunter D.