Dracula: The Real Deal

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Bram Stoker would be proud. The Irish writer effectively gave the world vampires in his 1897 novel Dracula, and pop culture has been busy with the concept ever since. The fanged creatures of mythology have been squeezed into every media and genre ever created from comedy to romance to horror.

Now Dynamite Entertainment is going back to where it all began in their five issue mini-series The Complete Dracula. Writers Leah Moore (yes, daughter of Alan) and her husband John Reppion are the team behind bringing back Stoker’s original vision to a comic book audience. Joined by painter Colton Worley and cover artist John Cassady The Complete Dracula aims to remind today’s savvy post-modern pop culture aficionados of the intricate horror of the first neck biter.

BROKEN FRONTIER: What do you think has been watered down over the many, many years from Stoker’s original vision?

 JOHN REPPION: There’s lots of stuff that gets trimmed; many adapters seem to think that there are too many characters for a start so Arthur Holmwood and Quincey Morris tend to get written out a fair bit. The Whitby occurrences are frequently lost altogether. Basically, Dracula is a pretty epic novel and because of its epistolary nature it unfolds in real time. That’s hard to do once you’re not dealing with a novel so adapters tend to compress the whole thing down and, whilst I understand why they do it, I think the story suffers overall. The book is all about a time when the supernatural and the mundane (and, at the time, ultra modern) cross over; Dracula is intruding into "real life" and it’s hard to get a sense of that across without having the everyday lives of the characters represented by the diary format.

BF: Could you take the same approach with other horror classics like Frankenstein?

LEAH MOORE: I think you certainly could, with horror classics or just classic literature. You'd have to find the right artist for each project, but it would be great to try other stories. I think the only thing that would make it hard would be if the prose was really multilayered, if the words were more than just describing the scenes in the book. That’s the kind of thing you can't really do with comics. You could put the words in captions, but then it stops being a comic and becomes an illustrated novel. Aside from that I don’t see any limitations to what you could adapt if you wanted to. 

BF: I imagine choosing the right artist for this project was vital. How did you discover Colton Worley?

JR: We were having a really hard time finding the right artist for the project because we needed someone who could really do Stoker’s novel justice. Eventually Dynamite found Colton and he was definitely worth the wait. His characters are so expressive and real but he blends that with horror and fantasy really well. It’s one of those situations now where I can’t imagine the book drawn by anyone else.  

BF: What unique opportunities will your Dracula presentation for the Dublin: One City, One Book event offer you?

LM: Its going to be a fantastic opportunity for us to use, and share the amount of Dracula Knowledge we have clogging our brains up at the moment. We spent such a long time thinking of nothing but Dracula, and discussing it, and to a certain extent analysing it, that we are really looking forward to talking to people about the book. We get the chance to show people how we did it, and the people we'll be talking to will be Dracula fans themselves, hopefully some academics on the subject. It should make for some lively conversation any way. The other great thing is that our comic gets to be part of a huge city wide celebration, which is a fantastic opportunity.

BF: Dr. Who: The Whispering Gallery had an unusual genesis. Do you get a lot of story ideas from dreams?

JR: Sadly not. We used one of Leah’s dreams in a sequence in our fist series Wild Girl back in 2004 but the Doctor Who story is the first time either of us has ever woken up having actually dreamt a page layout or title. It would be nice if we could do a bit more of that in the future but it’s not the kind of thing you can bank on sadly.

BF: Will you be going to see Watchmen?

LM: I will if we get any time to go to the pictures! We've been so busy the last few weeks I've barely set foot outside. I don’t have any problem with going to see it, of course ideally there would be no film to go and see, but it's there, it's done and Dave Gibbons rates it, which is good enough for me.

BF: Are you working on any future projects together?

JR: We’re still working on our Sherlock Holmes mini at the moment. The first issue of that is due out this month. After that there is another Dynamite/Top Cow crossover on the cards which we’re looking forward to. Lots of other bits and bobs including stuff for UK small press publisher Accent UK and loads of stuff that we’re not allowed to talk about yet. We’re keeping busy.

BF: Are you a fan of superheroes in general at all? Do you have any desire to create new adventures for well known Marvel or DC characters?

LM: I am a fan of superheroes, of course. Nobody can like comics and not enjoy superheroes! The most recent superhero comic I read was Take a Chance by C.E Murphy. I'm really looking forward to the next issue. As far as writing established characters, of course I'd love to! As freelance writers we'd have to be insane not to want to write the big characters. Everybody wants a chance to play with the classic characters, and if we were offered that opportunity we'd bite their arm off agreeing to do it!

The Complete Dracula #1 is out now from Dynamite Entertainment priced $4.99

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