DRACULA in Pictures
The following is not a comprehensive listing of all the appearances of DRACULA--and its unauthorized offspring NOSFERATU--in the graphic medium, but I feel the four publications outlined below are among the more noteworthy examples.
BRAM STOKERíS DRACULA is a 96-page graphic novel adapted and illustrated by the Spanish artist FERNANDO FERNANDEZ back in 1984 (and reprinted in 2005 by Del Rey). Done up in sumptuous watercolor paintings, itís a damn good looking saga--Iíd even go so far as to call it one of the most impressively visualized graphic novels Iíve seen. The problem is the pictures, divided into traditional rectangular panels, work better as self-contained art pieces than as parts of a larger whole.
Based on what I recall of the Stoker novel, Fernandez follows it fairly closely. BRAM STOKERíS DRACULA begins like the novel, with Jonathan Harkerís trip to the scary Transylvanian castle of Count Dracula, a centuries-old vampire. Harker is left prey to Draculaís trio of bloodsucking hoís, but escapes. Heís too late, though, to stop Dracula from traveling back to Harkerís hometown, where he puts his spell on Harkerís fiancťe Mina and her friend Lucy. The latter ends up becoming vampirized and meets a hideous fate. Also along for the ride are the nutty Renfield and the heroic vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing.
You get the drift: Fernando Fernandez has crafted a loving tribute to an enduring classic. His DRACULA is impressive, but could have used a bolder, more individual approach.
Thatís definitely not a complaint I can make about DRACULA: A SYMPHONY IN MOONLIGHT AND NIGHTMARES, written and illustrated by JON J. MUTH (and published by Marvel), which is disappointing for other reasons. Again we have some sumptuous imagery--Muthís dreamy watercolors (also on display in comics like MOONSHADOW and M) have a druggy, nightmarish beauty. Narrative-wise, though, this Dracula is a bit of a hodge-podge. Rather than relate his story in comic form Muth provides straightforward text to move it along, but heís definitely at his best with visual montages.
Muth follows the original DRACULA fairly closely, but in disjointed, perfunctory fashion. The character of Jonathan Harker is all-but jettisoned, and here itís Mina rather than Lucy who becomes Draculaís bitch. Muth also ends the story differently, by having Lucy run off with Dracula. The verdict: unsatisfying, though the artwork is fantastic.
Next up is NOSFERATU from 1991, a 2-issue Tome Press comic adaptation of F.W. Murneauís legendary 1922 film, which was an outright plagiarizing of DRACULA. RAFAEL NIEVES and KEN HOLEWCZYNSKI have replaced Murneauís painterly imagery with black and white imagery rendered more often than not as (oft-indistinct) lines and shapes amidst a sea of darkness.
The film was an expressionistic image-fest that condensed the events of DRACULA
considerably, and added an overpowering emphasis on disease and decay. That
last point is evident in the filmís presentation of Count Orloc, the Dracula
stand-in played unforgettably by Max Schreck. The latter is made up like, in
essence, a two-legged rat, with pasty skin, pointy ears and two formidable fangs
jutting from the center of his mouth.