Title: Ham Helsing, Vampire Hunter
Author: Rich Moyer
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: 1st July 2021
Synopsis: Pigs don’t fly . . . but they do hunt vampires!
- · The first in a rip-roaring new graphic novel adventure
series from award-winning animator Rich Moyer.
- · Hilarious story inspired by the legend of monster hunter
Abraham Van Helsing.
Ham Helsing is the descendant of a long line of adventurers and monster hunters–who don’t often live to rest on their laurels. Ham has always been the odd pig out, preferring to paint or write poetry instead of inventing dangerous (dumb) new ways to catch dangerous creatures.
His brother Chad was the daredevil carrying on the family legacy of leaping before looking, but after his death, it’s down to Ham. Reluctantly, he sets out on his first assignment, to hunt a vampire. But Ham soon learns that people aren’t always what they seem and that you need a good team around you to help save your bacon!
Ham Helsing is the last pig in a line of vampire hunters – everyone in his family has come to a rather sticky end due to their dare devil tendencies, and now, the vampire hunting is left to sensitive, quiet, creative Helsing left. The family of monster hunters has recently lost Chad, Ham’s brother, who was destined to carry the family legacy. Yet now it has all fallen to Ham Helsing, the rats he must work with and a young boy, who thinks he is on camp, and keeps changing into a dog under the moon they call Lobos. So what is this unlikely crew to do, but head to the village and agree to help kill the monster – the vampire that is terrorising them.
Yet as Ham and his gang travel, they are unaware of the real danger to the village and everyone involved, and the innocent vampire just trying to watch television and eat popcorn while he gets on with his undead life. So what’s a pig to do when faced with a peaceful vampire who doesn’t really want to attack the villagers, and a sinister spider seeking to control everything?
I don’t read many graphic novels – so this was a rare yet entertaining experience for me, working out what the panels without text were saying about the plot and characters. Books like this allow kids to further develop their visual literacy, and when combined with understand words on a page, can help kids become more confident with text only books. Graphic novels have their place, and so do text-only novels – both can create fantastic opportunities to build literacy and language foundations that will carry kids through schools. This fun and darkly humourous book will entertain readers with giggles and will show them that friendship can come from the most unlikely places.
It also explores themes of betrayal, what happens when there is mob mentality and being yourself – embracing what you like to do rather than doing what is expected of you. Ham lives in a world where everyone expects him to be a monster hunter – his family, the village he goes to save, and the only people who seem to accept him for who he is are Lobos and the vampire himself – so will the villagers accept him, and what is the real threat? Well, all that in this funny, and engaging graphic novel as well as a thrilling twist as Ham Helsing takes traditional monster stories like vampires and Frankenstein and twists them around to make them fun – and with an evil chook who allies himself with those he thinks will serve the purposes of a great evil master.
When it comes to saving yourself and those around you, it all comes down to the team you have – and the lessons you have learnt along the way. A great book for lovers of graphic novels.