Few fictional characters have permeated the pop culture landscape as much as bram stokerthe iconic Prince Darkness, Dracula (and as a collector myself, I know). Since the Gothic horror novel was published 125 years ago, bram stokerit is Dracula has been adapted into numerous plays, comics, audio dramas, movies, video games, and more. Notable versions in the comics include marvel’s Tomb of Dracula and Alex di Campi and Erica Hendersonit is Dracula, damn it!
Now in 2022, for the first time in history, a member of the Stoker family has taken up the pen to write an official comic book sequel to his famous parent’s classic novel, but in the form of an all-new series of comics from the fledgling UK Publisher, Scratch Comics. Great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker Dacre Stoker partnered with a comic book and game writer Dr. Chris McAuley and artists Chris Geary and Matthew John Soffe to tell the story of what happened directly after the end of the original novel, Dracula the Return: Cult of the White Worm, now crowdfunding on Zoop.
Rhythm spoke with Stoker, McAuley and Scratch Comic about bringing the Prince of Darkness to life for the 125th anniversary in comic book form, what’s next for the StokerVerse, plus Stoker’s lasting legacy Dracula. Check it out below!
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan: It is the 125th anniversary of the publication of bram stokerit is Dracula. Ever wanted to tell a Dracula story through comics?
Dacre Stoker: This is the second graphic novel resulting from my collaboration with Chris McAuley in the StokerVerse, the first was “The Virgins Embrace”, an adaptation of Bram’s short story “The Squaw” from 1893. Co-wrote this story with Chris m really whet the appetite for expressing Bram’s stories through this visual medium. I think Bram would approve, he was an amateur artist himself, and being a man of the theater he had an interest in the visual arts.
Kaplan: How did your collaboration with Dacre Stoker start?
Chris McAuley: A friend asked me to write a short vampire comic for their anthology 13e Moon. I wrote a science fiction adventure with Dracula. Set in the future, he had been kidnapped by a Weyland-Yutani style society and was being experimented on. Of course it was‘It wasn’t long until he broke free and caused all sorts of bloody havoc. I had contacted the Bram Stoker Estate to ask if I could use the character in this way. I was very respectful of Bram and his creation and would have used another vampire if they hadn’t approved of it. Dacre had read the script, liked it, and asked me if I wanted to collaborate on a Bram-related graphic novel series.‘s short stories. This evolved into the creation of the StokerVerse.
Kaplan: Stoker’s last novel was The Lair of the White Worm, and if I understand correctly, is one of his most popular novels. Are there any similarities between Dracula the Return: Cult of the White Worm and Stoker’s twelfth novel Beyond Name?
McAuley: The general atmosphere and themes are there. We’re creating more of a Lovecraftian backstory for the character. The Worm (or Wyrm) is obviously still there, and conclusions about what Lady March really was have come out. I can‘I won’t say more until the comic comes out, but there is a link to the worm and Dracula, which you’ll find out.
CapeLAN: I was listening to a podcast recently where you were talking about Nosferatus and the copyright infringement case brought by Florence Stoker (I had no idea!). How was the Florence copyright case revolutionary?
Driver: To my knowledge, Florence’s copyright infringement was either the first or one of the first novel-to-movie copyright infringement cases. It took 2.5 years for her to go through the German court system before she won. The problem is that Prana Films filed for bankruptcy, so the court decided to have all copies of the film destroyed. This, of course, did not happen, the film had already been distributed in a number of countries. Somehow it all finally worked out, Florence sold the film rights to Universal in 1930 and was paid very well, and the film Nosferatu survived to be remastered and enjoyed as a silent film even to this day.
Kaplan: What challenges did you encounter working on an iconic character like Dracula?
McAuley: It’s really important to Dacre and myself to bring the original, authentic Dracula back to life. You‘I’ve seen countless different versions and offshoots, but this is the real deal. Dacre is a character expert and was able to provide valuable insight into Bram’s creative mind. This‘is crucial in tackling the real Dracula. We jointly challenge the pop culture notion of Dracula with the literary figure whose legacy stands 125 years strong today.
Kaplan: How was the research process for this book? When interpreting the Count for comic books, did you draw inspiration from sources other than the original novel (e.g. other interpretations of Dracula, gothic horror stories, carmillaetc.)?
Driver: I have spent the past 12 years traveling the Dracula notes and Bram’s Journal as well as the Dracula Typescript. I’m always on the lookout for ideas that Bram had in development that never became Dracula or songs that have been deleted. This is the type of material I use when I co-write books or graphic novels.
McAuley: Reading Bram‘s stories and talk through the narratives and character development with Dacre. It’s honestly as simple as that. We used Bram‘s notes and typescript of Dracula to create this story. The graphic novel inserts elements of Bram‘s original novel that his publisher deleted. This includes characters such as the “4e Bride” and the Abominations who lived in the castle with Dracula. It may surprise many people reading this, but Dracula originally did not reside alone in his castle.
Kaplanot : You’ve been studying your family history for about a decade now. How has Draculahas ‘s influence on popular culture changed? Why has the story remained so relevant if you think it is? Have you made progress in your goal of making Bram Stoker as famous as his book?
Driver: An excellent three-part question. The novel Dracula, first written in 1897, presented the world with a very different image of Count Dracula than that which appeared on stage and screen with Bela Lugosi in 1924 and 1931, respectively. Dracula’s image and persona have evolved significantly over hundreds of stage and screen adaptations to look like a much more human-like creature than Bram’s animal monster. Chris and I decided we needed to reintroduce Dracula fans to Bram’s original Count Dracula.
One of the reasons the novel has remained relevant today and is recognized as a classic is that it provides insight into many issues of the time it was written. It’s hard to say what problems Bram wanted to stir up and which happened organically, but he certainly struck a chord: the “reverse colonization” of Eastern Europe; repressed sexuality of women; progress of women in society; American wealth and power are being introduced into British society, emerging science and technology clashing with old established ways.
I am very proud to say that, yes, I believe I have succeeded in raising the global awareness of bram stoker, his life, his writing and what kind of person he was. There is now a Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin, Ireland, a bronze bust of Bram in both the Dublin Writers Museum and the Museum of Popular Culture in Seattle, Washington. There are now tours to Transylvania to learn about the real Prince Vlad Dracula and Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula, tours to Whitby in England and Cruden Bay in Scotland, places where Bram researched and wrote about Dracula.
Kapla: What is the StokerVerse? What’s next for the StokerVerse?
McAuley: The StokerVerse is a collected universe with tabletop and video games, novels, comics, audio dramas and miniature figures, all set in a horror universe inspired by the Stoker family. We have a Cartoon RPG with Nightfall Gamesa video game from Spacebot Interactive (a Metroidvania-style title), and a miniature wargame from Trinity Knott Studios.
Kaplan: At the very bottom of your biography, it says that you worked with William Shatner on some comics. As a big Trekkie (who also couldn’t find it online), which ones?
McAuley: LAP! They were called Man O‘War (a series created by Bill), published by Tidal Wave. They can be found on Amazon, Scribd, and Comixology.
Kaplan: Why did you decide to crowdfund with Zoop? Can you tell Rhythm something about the Zoop campaign that readers might not be aware of?
Shane Chebsey at Scratch Comics: One of the things we realized about Dracula fans early on when we built the audience and got to know them through social media was that they weren’t usually a group of people familiar with the concept of crowdfunding.
Plus, many Dracula fans aren’t your typical comic book bunch. With Zoop, the pledge platform is really simple, and the way rewards and add-ons work is much more flexible than on other platforms, so the experience for the potential backer is like more to a standard shop interface, with which they are already familiar. . They also offer a very hands-on approach and comprehensive customer service, which we really liked.
The other thing we really like about Zoop is that it’s more about comic books. So people already on the platform understand what comics are, and there’s a wonderful crowd of backers out there who really appreciate the medium and love good comics.