Way back when I was an undergrad, a friend told me to look up Bite Me!, an online comic about vampires and the French Revolution.
Well. History. Who can resist that? Thus I was introduced to webcomics.
Bite Me! was created by Dylan Meconis, who also created Family Man, an online graphic novel which has a few overlapping characters with Bite Me!; Outfoxed; and Danse Macabre and other works. In her own words:
I began Bite Me in the winter of 2000, when I had a bunch of free periods in my senior year of high school, a burning desire to simultaneously make fun of A Tale of Two Cities and Interview With the Vampire, and easy access to a scanner I had gotten for Christmas the year before.
I began posting pages at the rate of one a week on my own little website: being on the web, and being a comic, it thus became a webcomic. In 2002 I was asked to join Girlamatic.com, a subscription-based website in the ModernTales family.
I completed it in 2004, my junior year of college, having spent a semester on-site in Paris the previous year. The comic became free again after its completion. It is now hosted independently by me and is still free to read – and it’s also available in a shiny print edition (from my own imprint, Elea Press) for your bathroom-reading pleasure! (source)
Our protagonist, Claire, is a barmaid in France during the revolution, and not exactly enjoying her job (too many dishes to wash, too many louts demanding ale) when 1. a “really… interesting…” handsome young male with cheekbones to die for walks in, 2. Claire loses her temper and clocks one of the aforementioned louts when he has the temerity to slap her behind, and 3. the really interesting handsome young male intervenes (with a sword) to keep the clocked lout’s two friends from starting anything, and then requests lodging from the barkeep. Oh, and 4. you remember that really interesting handsome young male? Yeah. He’s a vampire. And, as it turns out, there’s a whole lot of vampires in Paris who need to be rescued.
So, what might you like about Bite Me!? For a start, you get to see the artist’s style evolve. Yes, I know regularity is more the thing, but the Greek vase-like depictions of Claire on the first several pages are pretty cool, even if the overall style ended up being slightly different. The shift in style doesn’t feel abrupt, and both the initial approach and the style the bulk of the work is done in are enjoyable to read. Another reason to read it is for the history. Hey, history is funny, okay? And Claire was completely, totally crazy, so the fact that the plot and rest of the cast are too just fit. Also, it’s funny.
Why you might not like Bite Me!: Um… you like things to be realistic, especially when the setting is a gruesome historical period? Parody isn’t your thing? You don’t like vampires? (I don’t, actually, so I empathize.) The characters are completely zonky, and there’s both gore and innuendo. One of the vampires actually does take the whole supposed satan-worship thing a bit seriously, which is unsettling and feels out of place compared to the madcap riot that is the rest of the story. Oh, and there is insta-love, it’s just more amusing than insta-love usually is.
Bite Me! is mad, full of puns and other jokes, and offers a wild take on the French revolution. It won’t change your life but it provides a zany, comedic break from more rigorous reading. (Also, there’s a character who looks kind of like David Bowie in Labyrinth, or so the comments below the comic say. Yash, what do you think?) In short, Bite Me! won’t pluck at your heartstrings, but it might tap at your funnybone.