Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Golden Bookshelf:

Camp, fun, and classic, Tomb of Dracula brought together the creative team of Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan. Revisit their memorable run in the Essential Tomb of Dracula—a horror legacy that still survives to this day.

The Essential Tomb of Dracula Volume 1

When the Comics Code banned depiction of vampirism in the mid-1950s, they drove a stake through the heart of the horror comics genre. So when they revised the rules in the early 1970s to permit comic book representations of the classic monsters of film and literature, who did Marvel choose to resurrect right off the bat? None other than the original caped Crusader (1), Count Dracula. Tomb of Dracula #1 appeared in 1972 and was a looming presence on the newsstands all through the 1970s, spawning legions of spinoff titles (like the black and white Dracula Lives! magazine) and characters (such as Lilith, Daughter of Dracula).

Marvel’s Dracula didn’t suck. Whether by luck, by design or just because of someone’s twisted sense of humor, Marvel found the perfect creative team in writer Marv Wolfman (!) and artist Gene Colan. Wolfman updated the classic Dracula formula of the anti-hero protagonist pursued by relentless vampire hunters like his descendent Frank Drake, Hannibal King and the inevitable Rachel Von Helsing . His full-blooded scripts used great characterization, exotic settings and moments of genuine terror to build suspense in long story arcs more reminiscent of later Vertigo titles than other Marvel comics of the 1970s. Gene Colan’s artwork still looks great, using heavy blacks and subtle toning to give the title a perfectly gothic atmosphere.

The Essential Tomb of Dracula volume 1 dusts off the first 25 issues of Tomb of Dracula plus Werewolf by Night #15 (a crossover) and Giant-Size Chillers #1, introducing Lilith. This run also includes the storyline from TOD #10-15 that introduced Blade the Vampire Hunter, the “daywalker” vampire/human halfbreed later seen in films and television. For once, the Essential format is entirely satisfactory. Colan’s art looks better in black and white than in color, and these stories, while enjoyable, would not be worth the $100+ of multiple Masterworks editions. Marvel appears happy to drink the franchise down to the last drop: later Essentials collect the entire run of TOD, plus other crossovers and the great Dracula Lives! stories with art by Neal Adams, Esteban Maroto and others.

 

Vlad Tepes, the 15th century Romanian prince who is considered the historical basis for Dracula, fought in Crusades against invading Turks.

 

 

Essential Tomb of Dracula Volume 1

Marvel Comics, 2005

Writer: Marv Wolfman

Art: Gene Colan et. al.

560 p./bw/$14.99

Rob Salkowitz is a Seattle-based writer and authority on all manner of aging newsprint. You can e-mail your comments and queries to Rob at rob_comics@yahoo.com. Use "ComicBase" as the subject line.

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