The 5 Best Dracula Stories According to Kelley Jones and Matt Wagner
We chat with the two artists about their new Dracula: The Impaler graphic novel and ask them for their vamp faves.
Welcome to our Creator Corner, our reoccurring interview series, where we chat with the coolest and most thought-provoking creators in the comics industry. In this entry, we're conversing with Kelley Jones and Matt Wagner about the five best Dracula stories and how they shaped their new comic, Dracula: The Impaler. Listen to the unedited audio HERE.
If you ask Matt Wagner who the most famous literary character of all time is, he'll tell you Dracula. He's probably right. If you go to any corner of the planet and mention the count's name, you'll see an eyebrow of recognition rise. Since the character's introduction in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, he's re-appeared in numerous books, short stories, movies, and comic books. He's everywhere.
Wagner is currently constructing his version alongside Kelley Jones. Their new Kickstarter project is Dracula: The Impaler. You have less than three days to jump on board before it closes. We've already read it and, just a few of days ago, dropped a conversation between the two artists on the website. Read it here.
We're smitten, and with both creators trapped in our Zoom room, we couldn't let the opportunity to grab their favorite Dracula stories slip away. We put them on the spot, and they delivered some banger selections. The Dracula story sitting on top is no surprise. You gotta go with the OG, and while you might predict a few other faves, we also guarantee there are a few surprises within this pact.
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Matt Wagner: The original novel's the way to go. The film versions, I love to talk about how I love so many of them, and none of them truly satisfy me, which is what led to [Dracula: The Impaler], of course. I mean, if I was satisfied by any of them, I would just want to repeat that one. Instead, I wanted that physicality that Christopher Lee brings, I wanted the the feral essence that Max Schreck brings in Nosferatu. And I wanted the beguiling charm that Frank Langella kind of brings to the role. I wanted the muscularity that Jack Palance brought to the role. So all of those things combined.
The '94 [Francis Ford] Coppola version went on and on about how faithful they were and it wasn't. The central theme of him being in love with Mina and this reincarnated love, that's nowhere in the novel. He's not a romantic character in the novel, he's a fucking monster. We wanted to keep him that way, but also show the human behind the monster, enough humanity that he was recognizable, but also to never let you forget the fact that he's extraordinarily dangerous character.
Christopher Lee's Dracula
Kelley Jones: For me, if you're talking film, I think it's Christopher Lee's interpretation. What he gets across is this incredibly frightening, almost inhuman. He's human, but he doesn't seem like he is. If it comes to anything within literature, for me, it's tough after Bram Stoker.
Matt Wagner: So, there was a novel. It was a big hit about 10 years or so ago. It's called The Historian. Big long novel and a real slow burn, but it has a really nice gothic essence to it. And it turns out to be a Dracula novel, not a vampire novel - a Dracula novel.
The Devil is Not Mocked
Kelley Jones: There's a great Manly Wade Wellman story that I love dealing with Dracula. And it's a perfect Dracula, and it's primarily what Dracula did during World War II. He's the same Wallachian warlord, no invaders in his territory. That one always stuck with me as a fabulous Dracula story. Stoker couldn't have written it obviously, it's years after, but it's kind of lifted for the movie, The Keep. I mean, they clearly lifted it, but it's a short story by Manly Wade Wellman, and it's called "The Devil Is Not Mocked." It's a short. And it's these awful Nazis going to block a pass and they stay at a certain castle off the Borgo pass and that was a mistake. [It was adapted into a Night Gallery episode.]
Robert Lory's Dracula
Matt Wagner: I also discovered this really fun series of books from the '60s. I remember always seeing them on the bookshelves when I was a kid, and I had never picked one up. It's called The Dracula Horror Series [by Robert Lory]. I guess you'd call them cheap pulp novels from the '60s. And it stars this superhero team. There's a guy that's basically Professor X and he's got a giant Puerto Rican guy who's his butler/scientific assistant and a karate expert. And then there's a woman who's like an ancient cat woman.
Somehow that guy manages to resuscitate an enslaved Dracula to become part of their team, their crime busting team. And Dracula is constantly trying to break free of this guy's control and take over the world and everything. But this guy kind of uses Dracula as their big fucking hammer against the bad guys. Every time he needs something special, he unleashes Dracula on these guys. It's a neat series of books and just a real interesting take on things for sure.