Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Dracula

Count Dracula appeared for the first time in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897), possibly the most famous Supernatural Fiction ever written, and the text which gives definitive shape to the figure of the Vampire. The historical Prince Vlad IV (1431-1476) – Vlad the Impaler – is never mentioned in Dracula, but the Count is a member of the Szekely family, lives in Transylvania and is 466 years old, and like the warlord Vlad is a military man. He is saturnine, lean and hauntingly demonic in appearance; in this and in his seductive effect on young women he climaxes the vampire tradition John Polidori created out of his obsessive relationship with Byron. But Stoker's Dracula also has hair on his palms, bad breath, unnatural strength and very sharp fingernails, and is cold to the touch. A Shapeshifter, he can survive daylight but much prefers the night. His diet is restricted to human blood, which he sucks from his victims' necks through his fangs. Those he vampirizes eventually die, only to be reborn as undead vampires themselves. Dracula can be made helpless by garlic, a crucifix or a wild rose. A bullet fired into his body, a stake through his heart or decapitation – preferably a combination – will "kill" him. At the end of Dracula he was destroyed; Stoker had nothing to do with any of the countless resuscitations.

This version of the vampire has been so dominant over the past century that recent tales depicting vampires otherwise read as Revisionist Fantasies. They include Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and its imitators, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's St Germain sequence, Suzi McKee Charnas's The Vampire Tapestry (1980), Nancy A Collins's Sunglasses After Dark (1989) and many YA Contemporary Fantasies – Annette Curtis Klause's The Silver Kiss (1990) is an excellent example – in which teenage vampires try to limit the damage of, or even to kick, their habit. Tales in which Dracula himself appears run a gamut from Fred Saberhagen's The Dracula Tape (1975) and its sequels – in which Dracula is the hero – to Kim Newman's Anno Dracula (1992) and its sequel, in which Dracula gains horrific sway over the Western world.

In Dracula Stoker occasionally uses the term "nosferatu", a Romanian word meaning (approximately) "plague-carrier"; he picked it up from Emily Gerard's travelogue The Land beyond the Forest (1885), where it is defined as "vampire". [JC]

Comics

D's first appearance in Comics was probably in New Fun Comics #6 (1935), when Jerry Siegel (1914-1996) and Joe Shuster (1914-1992) introduced the mad scientist The Vampire Master as the nemesis of their Dr Occult. Stoker's novel was not among the 169 titles in the long-running and highly successful Classics Illustrated series, but there have been a number of attempts to adapt it into comic-strip form. The earliest was published by Avon Periodicals in Eerie #12 (1952), but a more substantial version was Dracula (graph 1966; vt The Illustrated Dracula 1975) drawn by Alden McWilliams (1916-1993) to a script by Otto Binder and Craig Tennis. By far the best to date was the beautifully painted Graphic Novel by Fernando Fernandez, Dracula (1982-1983: Creepy; graph 1984). Then came the pretentious Dracula – A Symphony in Moonlight and Nightmares (graph 1986) by John J Muth (1960-    ).

A number of comics adaptations from Dracula Movies have included Movie Classics: Dracula (graph 1962) and the remarkable adaptation by Mike Mignola of Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992; > Dracula Movies), Bram Stoker's Dracula (graph 1993); also there have been, in the UK magazine House of Hammer, Dracula (1976), Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1976) and Bride of Dracula (1983).

D has starred in a number of comic-book series, including: Dracula Lives (1973-1975) from Marvel Comics, which featured some interesting D-related stories with artwork by Gene Colan (1926-2011), Neal Adams, Tony Dezuniga and others; the multi-award winning Tomb of Dracula (1972-1979), written by Marv Wolfman and again drawn by Colan; and many more. The most recent is Dracula – Vlad the Impaler (1994-1995), with script by Roy Thomas and art by Esteban Maroto.

A Spanish comics magazine, Dracula (graph trans 1972-1973 UK; different trans Warren Publishing graph 1979 US), featured some interesting art by Maroto, Enric Sio (1942-    ) and other Spanish stalwarts, but was marred by puerile scripting: Dracula himself featured in only one frame! [RT/SH]

see also: The Curse of Dracula (1979); Dracula Movies; Dracula – The Series (1990).

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.