A VAMPIRE STALKS THE NIGHT !

 

SPOTLIGHT ON THE TOMB OF DRACULA #26

 
As Marvel's most popular and successful ongoing horror title of the 1970s, Tomb of Dracula weaved an ongoing saga plotting the lord of vampires against a group of vampire hunters which was vividly brought to life by Marv Wolfman's gripping storytelling, Gene Colan's dramatic pencils, and Tom Palmer's intense inks. The overall result was a gothic atmosphere which harked back at the classic vampire stories while at the same time adding new momentum to the theme, making Tomb of Dracula Marvel's outstanding contribution to the genre and a classic in its own right. Amongst the 70 issues published from April 1972 through to August 1979, some stand out as exceptionally well produced examples of the comic book medium - such as Tomb of Dracula #26.
 

SYNOPSIS - TOMB OF DRACULA #26 IN CONTEXT - REVIEW AND ANALYSIS - WHERE TO READ IT

 

 

Tomb of Dracula #26

November 1974

"Where lurks the Chimera!"

 

Story - Marv Wolfman
Art - Gene Colan
Inks - Tom Palmer
Colours - Tom Palmer
Lettering - John Costanza
Cover - Gil Kane
Editor - Roy Thomas

 

 
SYNOPSIS
 
Tomb of Dracula #26 features the first part of a three issue story arc centering around a mythical artefact called the Chimera.

"A gift works like a talisman for him who gives it: he prospers whichever way he turns." (Proverbs 17:8)

Night has descended on London as pawnshop owner Joshua Escol shows his son David the three individual components of a mysterious statue called the Chimera which he now finally holds in his possession and is about to reunite.

 


Tomb of Dracula #26
(November 1974)

  However, the artefact - which was created over 30,000 years ago by a wizard in Atlantis - is the object of a heated debate as David is concerned and alarmed by the thought of what kind of uncontrollable and dangerous power this symbol of a nightmarish creature - with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a serpent - might unleash.

His father tries to calm him, pointing out that whilst the origin of the Chimera is tainted a person with an honest soul and versed in the ways of wisdom may use its power for good deeds. But before he can explain any further, two intruders break into the shop, knocking out father and son Escol with the use of gas, and steal the statue.

As the fumes clear and David regains consciousness, he finds his father dead but notices that clutched in his hand Joshua Escol still holds the tail piece of the Chimera, which had broken off during the struggle with his assassins.

"Under cover of the cloak, a venal man takes the gift to pervert the course of justice."
(Proverbs 17:23)

 
At the same time, but in far off India, Taj Nitall - a former companion of vampire huntress Rachel van Helsing - is visited in his hotel room by an old friend who implores Taj to finally make the last few miles of his long journey home and join his wife in their family tragedy of having lost their son after an attack on their local village by vampires years ago - an incident which left Taj's wife bound to a wheelchair and himself mute after his vocal cords were damaged in the struggle with none other than the lord of vampires, Count Dracula.
 
Back in London, that very same Dracula is attacked in a dark alley by a group of men who seek revenge for the killing of a woman, but their plan backfires dramatically as the lord of vampires uses his hypnotic powers to make them turn against each other until none of them is left alive.

Dracula then proceeds on his way to the Eshcol pawn shop because he has learned from one of his informants that the old pawnbroker may have acquired the complete chimera. However, he arrives too late and only to find the place in ruins and the police already at the scene, but he is at least able to glimpse the tail piece of the chimera in the hand of David Eshcol. The pawnbroker's son then leaves the scene and wanders about aimlessly before he bumps into a young woman, Sheila Whittier. Unaware of the fact that she has ties to Dracula and that right now the lord of vampires is manipulating her in order to keep a close watch on David and the part of the chimera he holds, David has no reason to doubt her statement that his father supposedly met with her to discuss the chimera.

 
 
Eshcol tells her what he knows about the powers of the artefact, the events which led to the stealing of two of its three parts, and most importantly, that he himself holds the remaining third piece.

Elsewhere, another former member of the group of Rachel van Helsing and Quincey Harker's vampire hunters, Frank Drake, gets reacquainted with an old friend, Chastity Jones. Searching for a new life, Drake jumps at the occasion and joins her on her trip to South America, unaware that this will turn out to be the first step of an adventure that will lead him to unknown horrors along the way.

 
  Wanting to learn more about the background and origin of the chimera, David Eshcol takes Sheila to consult with Lydia, an old and somewhat eerie woman who, as his father told him, supposedly knows all about the chimera. 

She tells her two visitors that the statue was crafted more than thiry thousand years ago in the ancient city of Atlantis and quickly resulted in madness, destruction and death. The old woman relates the many twisted ways and events in which the chimera then appeared throughout history, again spreading death wherever it was found, before the artefact finally disappeared in the Middle Ages - although it seems to have reappeared recently. Again, the message is that the chimera can guide or destroy the world, and that only a stable individual can actually use it. 

 
At the same time, Dracula succeeds in tracking down the two stolen pieces of the chimera to a large mansion, again based on news from one of his informants.  He enters the building but soon finds himself trapped behind steel doors, whilst a mysterious voice talks to Dracula over a loudspeaker system, giving him instructions where to go. Thus directed into a room, the voice tells Dracula that he must die for seeking the power of the chimera, and only seconds later more sliding steel doors trap Dracula.
 
As the enraged lord of vampires considers his next steps, a panel in the ceiling suddenly slides open to release a stream of water onto the floor, and Dracula quickly realizes in terror that the liquid is actually holy water...

The issue ends with this cliffhanger situation, as Dracula is seemingly trapped with no way of escaping this deadly threat.

 
 
TOMB OF DRACULA #26 IN CONTEXT
 
If things had gone the way writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane had wanted them to go for Marvel's October 1971 print run, Spider-Man would have fought Count Dracula in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #101 (Cooke, 2001) in order to make the most of the newly gained freedom of a recent Comics Code revision.

However, Stan Lee had different plans for this iconic genre character and instructed Thomas to use a "super villain vampire" (Cooke, 2001). Thomas and Kane obliged, and Amazing Spider-Man #101 thus saw the first appearance of Morbius, the living vampire, instead of Dracula.

 


Tomb of Dracula #1
(April 1972)
Cover by Neal Adams

  Lee was heavily pushing for an own title for the count from Transylvania (Cooke, 2001) and plans for such a publication were first revealed in mid-1971 editorial announcements where, amongst different working labels, the title Tomb of Dracula was first mentioned.

Originally planned as a black & white magazine for "mature readers" rather than a standard colour comic book, this concept was changed as late as after completion of Gene Colan's artwork for the first issue (Cooke, 2001).

Officially, the launch of the Dracula title was delayed because of restrictions on printing capabilities, but with a cover date of April 1972 Marvel finally published the much heralded first issue of Tomb of Dracula. Unforseeable at the time, the title would turn out to be a huge success and break new grounds with its ongoing saga of a group of vampire hunters who sought to put an end to Dracula's existence.

Artist Gene Colan and writer Marv Wolfman achieved a quality of storytelling which was not only in the best vein of the classic gothic vampire stories but also added its very own stamp of originality and thematic momentum. Today, The Tomb of Dracula is a comic book classic beyond its genre, and the jewel in the crown of Marvel's bronze age horror world.

 
The pencilling and inking on Tomb of Dracula #1 was entrusted to Gene Colan, who would stay on the book right throughout its entire run, after having literally fought for this assignment from Stan Lee.
 

"[Gene Colan:] The only strip I really begged for was Dracula. He [Stan Lee] promised it to me, but then he changed his mind, he was going to give it to Bill Everett [...] But I didn't take that for an answer. I worked up a page of Dracula, long before Bill did anything [...] and I sent it in. I got an immediate call back. Stan said, "The strip is yours"." (Thomas, 2000)

Tomb of Dracula quickly became the flagship of Marvel's line of horror titles - above all thanks to Colan's artwork (often superbly inked by Tom Palmer) which was, in a word, definitive. After a long period of work on Daredevil and Iron Man, Colan created an intensely atmospheric visual rendition of the horror saga that was to unfold and established a distinctive look for Marvel's vampire count which went far beyond the classic horror comic qualities.

 


Gene Colan in 1977

 
Issue after issue, his style provided a truly captivating visual journey into the dark shadows, based on a pronounced assumption that comic books and movies share common traits:

"[Gene Colan:] I was mostly influenced by film. Understand film, frame by frame, is very much like panel to panel. The lighting in black and white films taught me a great deal." (Mata, 2007)

 


Cover of the first edition of Dracula (1897)

  On the story level, the link between Bram Stoker's original novel Dracula and the first issue of Marvel's new comic book title was forged by introducing the last living descendant of Dracula, an American named Frank Drake. At the same time, Stoker's book itself becomes a link, as the existence of this literary work is portrayed as a grand misconception: the book is not, as everybody thinks, a work of fiction, but rather an account of actual events.

This approach was in fact hinged on the standard logic of the Marvel Universe: if a well known fictional character appears in a Marvel comic book, then this character is no longer considered to be fictional, but rather a real entity - in which case any fictional work on said character must be a form of factual eye witness report.

Whilst the kick-off script was cleverly penned and opened with the reanimation of the vampire in modern times, Marvel seemed unable to supply the title with a stable authorship as three different writers (Gerry Conway, Archie Goodwin and Gardner Fox) came and went after two issues each. Whilst they did manage to set up the basic parameters of Tomb of Dracula, there was - not surprisingly - a pronounced lack in storytelling consistency paired with a sometimes hasty narrative.

 
Eleven months, six issues and three writers after the launch of Tomb of Dracula Marv Wolfman took command of the script for the March 1973 publication schedule, and with him, Marvel's tale of Dracula would become a cleverly conceived and extremely balanced piece of fiction - indeed, one of the best ever seen in a comic book.
 

"[Marv Wolfman:] A book that was six issues old - with three different writers and no direction. I realised pretty quickly that in order to do anything I had to decide on the handling of the characters and what the series was about (...) One of the things I did was write up pages upon pages of notes on who the characters were and where I wanted them to go. I was less concerned about the indivdiual plots at this point than I was about the direction of the characters. So I would write almost up to two years ahead, all the different turns of the characters and where they were gonna be, and issue by issue what would happen with the character. Then I went back and worried about the stories to make it work." (Comic Geek Speak, 2005)

 


Marv Wolfman in 1982

 
Fighting the newly risen lord of vampires in Tomb of Dracula was a team effort, just as it had been in Stoker's novel. Having a group of "vampire hunters" as antipodes to Dracula's actions and scheme of world domination was presented and worked on so well that it became an important element of the ongoing saga and contributed in a very essential way to the success of Tomb of Dracula. Also quintessential was another direct connection to the literary source which was established by Wolfman through the introduction of the persona of Quincy Harker in his first script for Tomb of Dracula. Harker - introduced on the final page of Stoker's original novel as a new born baby - is now an elderly man bound to a wheelchair who has used scientific means and sophisticated machinery to hunt down vampires for the past sixty years after having been trained by Abraham van Helsing himself. He is the driving force behind the group of vampire hunters, which includes the previosuly introduced Frank Drake, Rachel van Helsing, Taj, and Blade.
 


The entire group of vampire hunters features on the Gil Kane cover for Tomb of Dracula #28 (January 1975)

  Marv Wolfman's source of inspiration came entirely from Stoker's novel and completely bypassed the movies - complementing Gene Colan's strong influence by the latter and providing an exceptionally balanced overall picture.

"[Marv Wolfman:] I was not a big fan of that sort of stuff, and in terms of movies I'd never seen a Dracula movie at that point, but I'd read the novel, and I loved the novel, and that was my only influence." (Siuntres, 2006)

Wolfman immediately set up a general plot framework which centered on characterization and realism as primary storytelling devices.

"[Marv Wolfman:] The original Dracula novel was very very realistically handled, and Dracula himself was really a force more than a presence because he's only in 80 or something pages of a 500 pages novel, so the attitude of the original book was more on the people who are hunting him and the effects of evil on them (...) Using that as the template for the entire series it seemed to me that this was an ideal concept to try and do more realistic comics, to try and break out of the comics for 11 year olds (...) I really wanted to try to write something that was starting to appeal to my age." (Siuntres, 2006)

 
Within this framework, the pairing of Marv Wolfman's conceptual ideas for breaking out of established comic book routines together with Gene Colan's enthusiasm for the genre and his dynamic and atmospheric artwork proved to be simply perfect, and very soon they found themselves outside of the commonly defined and charted corners of the Marvel Universe. This, however, was not just terra incognita for Marvel, but for the entire comic publishing business and the medium itself.

"[Marv Wolfman:] This was the first time anything like this had been done. I was fighting the Comics Code every single month. We were just stretching - for the first time - out of standard comics."
(Comic Geek Speak, 2005)

One key element which Wolfman brought to the series and which made Tomb of Dracula stand out amongst mainstream comic book titles was the depth and complexity of the plot. Right from the outset of his first script assignment on the title, Wolfman started to build up multiple underlying themes and sub-plots in the overall storyline which would only become fully meaningful at a later stage; this way, even stand-alone single issue stories were embedded in an arc of overall continuity and suspense. In addition, Wolfman also increased the complexity of the themes which the storytelling dealt with by introducing undertones of moral philosophy and portraying all characters involved - Dracula as well as the group of vampire hunters - as self-conflicting and sometimes even outright self-contradicting personalities.

According to Roy Thomas, Marvel's editor-in-chief at the time, Tomb of Dracula had a good start and eventually became a good, solid seller for most of its run (Cooke, 2001), and the title went from bi-monthly to monthly publication in June 1973 with Tomb of Dracula #9. Wolfman and Colan steadily progressed from being two enthusiastic individuals working together to becoming a team where mutual understanding and a shared perception creates results not otherwise possible. The series just kept getting better and better until it reached its prime for a period running from April 1974 to August 1975 over a sequence of 17 issues (Tomb of Dracula #19 - #35.

 
REVIEW AND ANALYSIS
 
Tomb of Dracula #26 is situated virtually midway in that period of five star excellence of the title, and by this time the narrative flow and the plot interest had reached such a high intensity that Marv Wolfman could come up with storylines which did not feature the team of vampire hunters as central cast characters for a few issues without any worries of losing the overall dynamic.

In this issue, Wolfman kicks off a story arc running through Tomb of Dracula #26 - 28 which centers around the Chimera. Digging deep into Greek mythology, Wolfman greatly develops the setting and backdrop of the title by lining it up with ancient European mystic lore and culture, as the oldest reference to the "chimaira" is to be found in Homer's 8th century BC epic Illiad, where this monstrous creature is described as

"a thing of immortal make, not human, lion-fronted and snake behind, a goat in the middle, and snorting out the breath of the terrible flame of bright fire"
(Illiad, book VI, verses 179-182;
translation by Lattimore, 1951)

 
In Greek mythology, the Chimera ravaged the countryside of Lykia (Anatolia) and was described as the offspring of Typhon and Echidna. This made her a sibling of such monsters as Cerberus, the Lernaean Hydra, and the Sphynx, and thus established this composite beast within the core genealogy of the ancient Greek myths (Smith, 1867). In turning to Greek mythology, Marv Wolfman brought a personal favourite subject to the pages of Tomb of Dracula, and one of which he has a well-founded and broad knowledge (Arrant, 2010).

Today, in the age of general public awareness of genetics and the equally publicly perceived actual reality of clones and hybrids, references in popular culture to the concept of the chimera appear frequently, but at the time when Tomb of Dracula #26 was published, Wolfman did not have many role models to go on and provided the readers of the series with yet another innovative plot element.

 

An Etruscan bronze cast of the Chimera (c. 400 BC) on display at the Archeological Museum in Florence, Italy

 
Avoiding the possible pitfalls of having to stretch the limits of credibility too far by introducing an actual living beast modelled on the mythological monster, Wolfman's chimera is in fact a powerful magical artefact in the form of a statue, made up of three individual pieces and capable of transforming into reality the thoughts of whoever possesses all three pieces.

Thus taking his inspiration from Greek mythology and expanding his narrative on this basis, Wolfman adds another element to the plot by bringing Atlantis into play, which allows him to anchor the chimera in a better known and more familiar general context than would be the case for most readers if Wolfman would be referring to ancient Lykia.

The reference to mythic Atlantis, of course, also originates in Ancient Greece, as the legendary island described by Plato in two of his dialogues as a mighty naval power which sank into the ocean "in a single day and night of misfortune" (Jowett, 1871) after a failed attempt to invade Athens.

 
  Plato's description places these events at around 10,000 BC, but Wolfman goes back even further into the shadows of time for the Tomb of Dracula timeline by putting an age of around 30,000 years on the chimera statue. But even to those readers who are unaware of these aspects of Atlantis, simply mentioning this fabled realm links the storyline to a commonly known classic element of fantasy narration - a clever means employed by Wolfman to both explain and justify the paranormal powers of the artefact.
 
The tale woven around the mysterious powers of the chimera statue is dotted with even further "authenticity" by using numerous quotes from the Old Testament in the introduction to the storyline. Essentially, they are a means of characterizing the old pawnbroker and portraying him as a pious jew intent on securing the chimera for the good of mankind and preventing it from ever falling into the hands of evil again.
 
This setting, just like the greek mythology background, was again familiar territory to Wolfman who comes from a Jewish family background (and won a National Jewish Book Award in 2008, together with Mario Ruiz and William Rubin, for the non-fiction graphic novel Homeland: The Illustrated History of the State of Israel), and its usage demonstrates Wolfman's approach to constructing and maintaining a plot complexity which is accessible to readers who can put the various sidelinks into an expanded context but which does not leave readers who can't in a void.  
 
In this case, the quotations (mostly from the proverbs of the Old Testament) have underlying ramifications for the general them of the plot. According to Yamauchi (1983), the passages quoted by Wolfman from Proverbs 17:8 and 17:23 actually refer in a very substantial way to magic and, specifically, a magic stone, and are thus very close to the core characteristic of the chimera statue which, although made of metal rather than being carved from stone, has an affinity to amulets or talismans through its appearance and a magical potency which can turn it into both a blessing or a curse. And finally, the venal man mentioned in Proverbs 17:23 who takes the gift "under cover of the cloak" is an almost obvious visual reference to Dracula who, of course, wears just that - a cloak.

These remarks really serve to illustrate und underscore two points. Firstly, they demonstrate Wolfman's meticulous plotting and writing which creates many different threads but at the same time makes certain that none of these are left unconnected or dangling without purpose - ultimately, everything is thought out and carried through to fit the overall picture. Wolfman has a complex concept, and he breaks it down into a storyline which moves everything along, i.e. both plot and characters. This also means that there is a high density in Wolfman's writing and no filling, which, secondly, provides a multi-level storyline which is far above what general expectation would consider a comic book plot from the 1970s to be. Tomb of Dracula #26, together with its preceding issue and the next few issues following it, is one of the best examples to illustrate just what precisely Wolfman had in mind when he was thinking of breaking out of the "comics for kids only" framework - and how well he succeeded in doing so.

The chimera is used by Wolfman as the recurring story device and focal point for a three issue arc, but in essence the true meaning of the statue for the plot Wolfman has designed is that it brings up the elementary human condition of doubt (most notably self-doubt) and the connected attempts to bring personal hopes and expectations in line with actual reality. Wolfman goes about this potentially difficult subject, where an all too top-heavy handling could all but kill a comic book within a few panels, by building on his successful approach to characterization: he exemplifies it through the persona of Sheila Whittier, whose desire for  love is made futile by her inability to see the truth behind Dracula, and David Eshcol, whose longing for wisdom is hindered by his inability to accept and understand the existence of the supernatural. Dracula, on the other hand, uses these dilemmas and the self-doubts they entail to manipulate both individuals to fit his own purposes. The count himself is thus portrayed throughout the three issues of the chimera arc as a character who has always prided himself of his control and mastery of others but who is now gradually faced with being both defied and humiliated - most notably when Sheila Whittier simply smashes the chimera statue by throwing it against a wall in Tomb of Dracula #28 (actually one of the few questionable points in the plot, as it really is quite unclear how a metal object could behave in such a manner). This is not exactly what one would expect from the lord of vampires, but his (at this point) inexplicable loss of power would actually become a focal point of Wolfman's next major plot developments for the series.

 
On a short personal note to further illustrate this, I immensely enjoyed Tomb of Dracula #26 when I picked it up from the news agent as a 12-year old. It was only my second issue of the series, but it thrilled me so much that even after 35 years I can still recall the exact circumstances of reading it, and just how much I liked the way the chimera, black magic and Atlantis intertwined with the Dracula theme. It was only decades later, upon re-reading the issue for the first time, that I was struck by just how many interesting facets of the plot I had missed, yet without any detriment to its entertainment value at the time.

Tomb of Dracula #26 is one of those examples of a Bronze Age comic book - admittedly not available by the thousands - which provides readers of any age (probably upwards of 10, though) with a very high level of storyline satisfaction: the plot builds up instantly on various levels and is taken forward very swiftly as it builds up a growing amount of suspense until it finally reaches a cliffhanger climax which really makes you wonder how things will go on from here.

 
 
In a nutshell, this is comic book writing at its best from Marv Wolfman as the hunt for the mysterious artefact is both juxtaposed and intertwined with the triangle of emotions and relationships between the main characters - supported and complemented on an equally high level of excellence in terms of the artwork from Gene Colan and the inking by Tom Palmer.

At this point in time of the series, Gene Colan was really in top gear and provided just the right visuals for Wolfman's stories for the end product to reach its full potential. The distinctive look he had established for Marvel's vampire count at the outset of the series now flowed from his pencils with ease as he embedded his characters in atmospheric settings which embodied everything the genre had to offer. Issue after issue Colan's style and his enthusiasm for this work left their quality mark on each and every page.

"[Gene Colan:] I just love the atmosphere - you know, old castles, cemeteries, fog - all that stuff. I've always been interested in that." (Siuntres, 2005)

 


The first part of the original artwork of the origin of the chimera - page 23 of Tomb of Dracula #26, pencilled by Gene Colan and inked by Tom Palmer
(scanned from the original art page in my personal collection)

  After a number of changes during the first dozen or so issues of Tomb of Dracula, Gene Colan by now also had the advantage of being assigned a regular inker in the person of Tom Palmer, whom Colan approved of because Palmer could "read" his rather complex pencil artwork (which would often have added half-tones and shading) and would not try to simplify this (and his job) the way many other inkers had done previously (Siuntres, 2005). By the time issue #26 was up on his drawing schedule, Colan had also acquired a positive routine with the material.

"[Gene Colan:] I kind of improved as the series went on. The more you work on something, the better you get at it. I felt that the character became my own" (Dlugos, 2002)

One new element which came up for Colan with Tomb of Dracula #26 was the chimera. In contrast to the classic Greek rendition with three bodies and three heads, Colan chose to simplify this by drawing only one head, namely the lion's. The result is a creature which is actually much easier to "decipher", and Colan's portrayal of the statue plays an important part in how successful the story arc works as a whole - just as his artwork did for the entire series.

"[Marv Wolfman:] Gene's artwork certainly is the reason why we could do a lot of that stuff." (Siuntres, 2006)

Marvel now had an artistic team at hand which had the qualities and the determination it took to make Tomb of Dracula work - as well the professional ease in the production process which only comes when all things fall together.

 

"[Gene Colan:] It was always over the phone, very quickly, or in passing each other you'd spend a few minutes talking about it, maybe fifteen or so, and that would be it. It's all that was required." (Siuntres 2005)

Simple as this process was if and when it worked, a small piece of trivia suggests a slight hickup in the working process of Tomb of Dracula #26 caused by letterer John Costanza, as a comparison between the printed splash page as published and the original artwork splash page (on offer from a professional comic art dealer in 2010 for $800) reveals a slip in the title where "chimera" is misspelled as "chimeira". This typo - which must have also been overlooked by inker Tom Palmer who worked on the page once the letterer had finished his job - required a reworking which, given that the splash page for sale is described as an original piece of artwork, was seemingly carried out on a 1:1 stat of the page. In addition to correcting the typo, the credits were also moved from the bottom of the page into the large lower panel.

 

 

 
In conclusion, Tomb of Dracula #26 is an exceptionally entertaining and surprisingly multifaceted comic book, and as such it is also an important part of the overall fabric which made the series what it is by today's perception: a comic book title which shaped and influenced comic book history in many ways. First off, Tomb of Dracula was the first continuing comic book title which featured a horror genre character both as its leading role and, consequently, as part of its title. Secondly, the title was the prototype mould for Marvel's 1970s run of horror comics which infused the genre with the underlying principles of the traditional superhero comic book, making the "superhero from the crypt" (see THOUGHT BALLON #7) one of Marvel's milestone contributions not just to the Bronze Age period of the 1970s but to comic book history as a whole. Thirdly, Tomb of Dracula was the longest running Bronze Age horror comic book title. And last but all but least, the revival of Marvel Comics which was triggered by the series of big budget movie adaptations based on the House of Ideas' characters was not started by one of the now newly popular superheroes, but rather by a character from Tomb of Dracula as Blade broke the Hollywood ice for Marvel in 1998.

And finally, Tomb of Dracula owes its uniqueness and success to an important shift in focus which Marv Wolfman brought to the title:

"[Marv Wolfman:] A lot of us back then were trying to break out of comics just for kids, and it was very possible for us to do those things on the non-superhero books, because no one was paying attention. So Roy Thomas could do that on Conan, Steve [Englehart] could do that on Doc Strange and Master of Kung-Fu, [Steve] Gerber could do it on Man-Thing or Howard the Duck, and I could do it on Dracula [...] to try and push comics into other things, other areas, that they had not explored." (Siuntres, 2006)

 
WHERE TO READ IT
 
Tomb of Dracula #26 is an excellent jumping on point for (re-)discovering the series as a whole. It is available, of course, as the original 1974 comic book from various sources and at prices which have remained reasonably sensible - according to the 2013/14 Overstreet Price Guide these should start around $9 for a medium grade (fine, 5.0) copy before reaching $30 for a near-mint (9.2) copy, which is the same estimate as five years previously.

Alternatively, Tomb of Dracula #26 is available in various reprint formats, either in a black & white only version in volume 2 of the highly affordable Essentials collection of Tomb of Dracula, or in colour on high quality paper in volume 1 of the Omnibus edition of Tomb of Dracula. Marvel's latest reprint in June 2010 brings the series into the current format of trade paperback, with the first volume collecting Tomb of Dracula #1-12; issue #26 will be featured in the third volume, scheduled for publication in late 2010. And finally, Tomb of Dracula #26 is available as digital comic from marvel.com.

 

 
BIBLIOGRAPHY

ARRANT Chris (2010) Wolfman Becomes the GOD OF WAR For WildStorm, Newsarama website, available online and accessed 2 July 2010 at www.newsarama.com/comics/Wolfman-God-Of-War-Comic-100402.html

COMIC GEEK SPEAK (2005) Podcast: Book of the month club - episode 5 - Tomb of Dracula, Interview with Marv Wolfman (31 October 2005) (quoted from personal transcript)

COOKE Jon B. (2001) "Son of Stan: Roy's Years of Horror", originally published in Comic Book Artist #13, available online and accessed 10 September 2007 at www.twomorrows.com/comicbookartist/articles/13thomas.html

DLUGOS Jenn (2002) Gene Colan Interview, available online and accessed 18 October 2007 at www.classic-horror.com/newsreel/gene_colan_interview

JOWETT Benjamin (1871) The dialogues of Plato, Oxford University Press

LATTIMORE Richmond (1951) The Illiad, Chicago University Press

MATA Shiai (2007) Gene Colan Interview, available online at www.slayerlit.us/interviews/interview8.htm

SIUNTRES John (2005) Gene Colan Interview, transcribed from the podcast Word Balloon: The Comic Creator's Interview Show , available online at wordballoon.libsyn.com

SIUNTRES John (2006) Marv Wolfman by Night, transcribed from the podcast Word Balloon: The Comic Creator's Interview Show , available online at wordballoon.libsyn.com

SMITH William (1867) Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, Little, Brown and Company

THOMAS Roy (2000) "So you want a Job eh? The Gene Colan Interview", originally published in Alter Ego (vol. 3 issue 6), available online and accessed 17 October 2007 at www.twomorrows.com/alterego/articles/06colan.html

YAMAUCHI Edwin M. (1983) "Magic in the Biblical World", in Tyndale Bulletins (34), 169-200

 

 

 

The illustrations presented here are copyright material and are reproduced for strictly non-commercial and appreciative review purposes only.
Text is (c) 2010-2014 Adrian Wymann

page originally published on the web 27 July 2010
revised, updated and moved to wymann.info/comics 8 March 2014