Dracula’s Legendary Comics Life is Classic

30 Oct

By Ed Sum
|(The Vintage Tempest)

Release Date: Nov 3, 2020

By Hunter’s Moon, ask any cineaste who the best actor was to play Dracula, it’s reasonably safe to say Bela Lugosi tops the list. He’s appeared in the classic film that started it all and also the horror-comedy Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein that cemented his status. To this day, I still get goosebumps. I remember my babysitter letting me watch that film and his entrance. As a seven-year-old, I ran screaming from his home back to mine! Somehow, all that helped kindle my interest in the supernatural and horror. Learning how genre movies were made decades ago helped lessen the scars.

Legendary Comics graphic novel release of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (starring Bela Lugosi) shows Halloween won’t be over. He’s on the prowl, and this publication faithfully adapts the seminal book, brings some of that cinematic prowess from Francis Ford Coppola‘s adaptation, and bridges all those letters, journals and recordings into a solid tale where you don’t notice it’s being told from multiple perspectives. Robert Napton made the transitions between these products unnoticeable.

This sequential art retelling is unique. El Garin’s illustrations sweetly evokes the mesmerizing glare of Lugosi’s Dracula. he also shows where he is hiding when the story is from some other perspective. The eyes of the world are upon the heroes, victims and villains. In the character and set design, we get a simpler look at the Victorian age instead of the opulence seen with Coppola’s pastel red take. Nods are made to show Dracul’s arm stretching from afar when Jonathon Harker is at his Transylvanian Castle. This artist’s grey washes are perfect to keep the feeling absolutely silver.

Roger Ebert wrote in his review that this film’s success came from Lugosi’s performance, Karl Freund’s cinematography, and Tod Browning’s direction. No one will argue that. The awe from the silent film predecessor Nosferatu needs to be mentioned; F. W. Murnau German release predated Universal’s. Also, the sordid etymology is mired to when it was first coined to become associated with the vampire. I enjoyed seeing Van Helsing scream, “Nosferatu!”

Most readers know the origins and this adaptation offers enough material to recount that history, say the blood is life and make the vampire omnipresent. To have snippets of Stoker’s novel in this book in the dialogue and narrative is simply tops.

Although Lugosi disliked being typecast, he lived with it much of life. I forever have his voice imprinted in my memory. His presence is certainly and fondly recreated. I can even see this man, without his undead makeup, be that Prince of Romania. Lynne Lugosi’s introduction briefly states where her great-grandfather came from, the typecasting, and how he settled into the role. It also includes the initial seeds of planning this graphic novel. Also included as an afterword by Dacre Stoker, great grandnephew of Bram Stoker, which follows a similar thread. The endorsements are there to say everyone was behind getting this idea to print. The pre and postface aren’t really needed for those in the know. For newcomers, this mini biography is a start to introducing the three major talents who breathed life into making Lugosi’s Dracula the most memorable and hotly debated opposite Gary Oldman.

5 Stars out of 5

Notes:

Art Director • Co-Editor & Additional Art by KERRY GAMMILL
Lettering & Design by RICHARD STARKINGS & COMICRAFT’S TYLER SMITH
Adapted & Edited by ROBERT NAPTON

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