Skinner Sweet

    Character » Skinner Sweet appears in 60 issues.

    Protagonist of King's story in American Vampire. Skinner Sweet was a sociopathic outlaw in the 1880's old west and becomes the first American Vampire. Later he is a Las Vegas pimp and then a soldier. Skinner is always where the action is.

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    In 1880, Skinner Sweet was a notorious thief and murderer who earned his nickname for his sadism and his love of candy. Unknown to him, he wronged an elitist society of European vampires, who hired James Book of the Pinkerton Agency to bring him in to hang. Sweet made a daring escape with the help of his gang but was attacked in the process by one of the vampires, Mr. Percy. He was bitten, and when Percy was shot point blank, some of the vampire's blood fell into Sweet's eye. As a result of the blood transfer, Skinner Sweet became the world's first American Vampire. He was stronger than the elitist European vampires and could survive in direct sunlight unlike them. He also is weakened by gold and not silver.

    After being stuck in his grave for twenty years, Sweet rose and discovered what he had become. Skinner emerged from his flooded grave when European vampires would have been incapacitated. He immediately went on the warpath, killing everyone he could and going after the people who had wronged him in life. Skinner also infected an actress who was attacked and nearly killed by his European counterparts. He was soon defeated on a moonless night by James Book and sealed in a collapsed mine. Years later, he would be free again.

    His grave stone read "Skinner Sweet. 1850 - 1880 Outlaw Killer, Defiler of Women, Born in Kansas, Burns in Hell".


    Skinner Sweet was created by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque as the central character of the American Vampire series for Vertigo. Sweet's origin story was written by Stephen King, who liked Snyder's outline for the series so much that he offered to write that rather than simply an introduction for the book.

    Due to Sweets' appearance and wild behavior, readers speculated that the character was based on Kid Rock. Snyder denied this in an interview, saying if Sweet was based on any rock star it was Kurt Cobain.

    Major Story Arcs

    Big Break

    In 1925, Skinner Sweet was in Los Angeles and had entered into a treaty with the Europeans of his kind that was meant to keep them out of each other's way. Sweet decided to use a little loophole in their agreement, though. He took an interest in Pearl Jones, a woman about to be served up as the Europeans' next plaything. After she suffered their brutal attack, Sweet turned her into another American Vampire, presumably making her the second of their kind and being the first time he had ever done so. He left her a gift, the man who fed her to the vampires. Skinner Sweet then left her to take bloody vengeance on the Europeans as she saw fit with a list of weaknesses for the Europeans.

    Devil in the Sand

    In the 1930s, Sweet had set himself up in Las Vegas under the name Jim Smoke as a powerful pimp. The Hoover Dam was under construction at the time, secretly being funded by a cabal of common European vampires. Sweet opted to make a pact with a rare Gaelic breed of vampire also in the area to strike at the cabal, each wanting them dead for personal reasons. A series a murders were committed to lure the common vampires out, but this had the side effect of bringing two agents of the Vassals of the Morning Star to Las Vegas too. One of these agents was Felicia Book, the vengeful daughter of James Book. They were after the Gaelic vampire, though. Sweet had an arrange with the Vassals that left him immune to their interference, so he stood aside as they investigated the murders with Las Vegas's police chief Cashel McCogan.

    Sweet's arrangement went off exactly as planned. When the common vampires were lured out into the open, Sweet helped the Gaelic vampire kill them and then killed the Gaelic vampire, who had been McCogan's adopted father in his human guise. Book and McCogan went after sweet, having discovered his weakness to gold. To escape, Sweet held McCogan's pregnant wife hostage, holding a syrine of his vampire blood to her stomach. He injected an unborn Gus McCogan, infecting him with his vampire blood, then fled to Los Angeles.

    Ghost War

    When Henry manges to finally join the war effort in World War II Skinner manages to find a way to join in on the fun. Skinner joins the group of elite vampire hunters when they are fighting an ancient breed of lizard type vampires native to the island. To his surprise, Skinner is easily hurt by this breed of Vampire. Skinner manages to get captured along with the rest of them and is badly wounded. He helps the soldiers escape although only Skinner, Henry, and one other soldier make it out alive. The allies drop bombs on the island and it is believed Skinner was incinerated. An angry and alive Skinner has a massive show-down with Pearl who came for Henry. In the end he is finally stabbed with gold and presumed to be dead.

    Beast in the Cave

    The Beast in the Cave story arc takes the readers all the way back to the late 80s, when we see Skinner Sweet and James Book who were great friends during their childhood. When they were still young, both enlisted in the army. They were to fight the Hole in the Sky native tribe, whom leader was a vampire. Thankfully, the whole army of natives was killed by Mimiteh, known as the Goddess of Death, before there was even a fight. Later on, they both became great rivals due to their different natures. Skinner was a cold blooded killer, while James Book was a man of the law, who would fight for justice.

    Death Race

    Years later, in the 1950s, a very much alive Skinner torments a young vampire hunter by the name of Travis Kidd, who blames Skinner for the death of all his loved ones. The two enter a deadly race with each other, with Skinner revealing he has a former fling of Travis', Piper Francis, in his back trunk. The two's race comes to a flaming crash, leading to a fight. It's revealed that Travis' parents were killed by a group of vampires searching for Skinner while he lived in Las Vegas, thus Travis blames him for the death of his parents. Skinner then falls for a trap set by Travis as he drinks some of his gold tainted blood. Travis tries to learn what happened to Skinner after Taipan, but before he can get any answers or kill him, Linden Hobbes and The Vassals of the Morning Star appear to pick up "Agent Sweet," revealing that Skinner was bait to lure in Travis to their organization. Before Travis makes a get away, he asks Skinner what the Vassals did to him in order to get him to work for them, to which he replies "You don't even know the half of it, kid."

    Powers and Abilities

    As a vampire, Skinner Sweet is difficult to harm and nearly impossible to kill. He is stronger and faster than humans and common European vampires of the Carpathian breed. In his transformed state, his mouth becomes snake-like with notably long fangs and an unhinged jaw and his fingers grow long and razor sharp. His bite also injects a venom that has a paralyzing effect on people.

    Sweet, as an American Vampire, has no aversion to sunlight. In fact, sunlight makes him strong.


    Skinner Sweet becomes incredibly weak and vulnerable on moonless nights. His skin becomes soft, and his fangs barely come out, leaving him so weak he is unable to even feed on a person.

    Rather than wood or silver, the only thing that can really harm and kill Sweet is gold.


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