30 Years of Horror: Editor Beazley talks the return of "Stoker's Dracula"

It's been an interesting, horror themed week here at Comic Book Resources. It wasn't planned, but apparently fate decided this week would see something of a horror trifecta on CBR. Steven Grant shared gave some thoughts on horror in comics Wednesday in his Permanent Damage column. Also on Wednesday we told you about a new horror graphic novel, "The Awakening," coming this November from Oni Press. Today, we've got the story of a classic horror comic that was never finished, yet it's been revived and coming out later this year.

This October sees the return of something rather unusual in comics. Thirty years ago comics veterans Roy Thomas and Dick Giordano set out to adapt Bram Stoker's "Dracula" in comic form at Marvel Comics. Unfortunately, for reasons that will be made clear in a moment, the duo only got through about one-third of their work before the series was cancelled. "Stoker's Dracula" would remain unfinished for thirty years, until Marvel editor Mark Beazley had the idea to reprint those stories already published and to have the original creators come back and finish the job. No, it's not like subsequent issues were already in the can, sitting on a shelf in a vault somewhere just waiting to be published. When "Stoker's Dracula" returns to comic shop shelves this October, you'll see a mix of the old and the new. CBR News spoke with Beazley earlier this week about the series and shared the story of bringing "Stoker's Dracula" back in to print.

"Part of my responsibilities as an editor at Marvel involve researching and planning some of our classic trade paperbacks," Beazley told CBR News. "Following the astounding success of the first 'Essential Tomb of Dracula' TPB, Marvel decided that we wanted to continue reprinting the rest of the series. I saw this as an opportunity to not only reprint the 70 issues of the original series, but also the great stories that ran in Marvel's B&W magazine 'Dracula Lives!'

"While researching these materials, I stumbled across Roy and Dick's serialized adaptation of the original Bram Stoker novel. Starting with the March 1974 'Dracula Lives!' #5, Roy and Dick began the most faithful adaptation of 'Dracula' ever done in any medium, divided into 10 and 12 page chapters that continued in issues #6-8, and #10-11. Unfortunately, sales on 'Dracula Lives!' weren't sufficient for it to continue publication, and the next chapter of material ran in a one-off magazine 'Legion of Monsters #1.' Despite having amassed 76 pages of gorgeous ink-wash artwork and getting about 1/3 of the way through adapting the novel, Roy and Dick were left without a venue to continue their opus."

In continuing his research, Beazley discovered a number of interviews with Thomas and Giordano in which they lamented the fact they never had the chance to finish the project.

"It seemed a travesty to me that such an amazing work would remain uncompleted, so I began championing internally that we approach the creators to come back. The timing was perfect to resurrect this lost gem in that they had started this labor of love 30 years ago and Marvel itself is celebrating its 65th Anniversary.

"After assuring both Roy and Dick that Marvel was fully committed to completing their adaptation with the same dedication and care that they had originally given -- including putting the book on a six week release schedule to ensure they had enough time to devote to it -- they were ecstatic to return: I think Dick's response was 'YIPPPPEEEEEEEE!'"

Marvel will begin publishing the four-issue limited series starting in October. Each issue is 48 pages with no ads, with issue #1 reprinting the first four-chapters which originally appeared in "Dracula Lives!" #5 through #8. Issue #2 reprints the chapters that originally appears in "Dracula Lives" #10 and #11, the story that appeared in "Legion of Monsters" #1 as well as the first 12 pages of new art in almost 30 years.

"I can tell you without a doubt that those pages are fantastic," enthused Beazley. "Issues #3 and #4 are all new material. And all four issues have brand-new cover art by Dick."

Naturally, after 30 years Giordano has matured in his craft and Beazley notes there will be some differences between the original and the new, but a concerted effort has been made to minimize that difference.

"Plus the older pages were formatted for magazine size, so to maintain the correct proportions for comic size we had to shrink them down a tad," explained Beazley, "but Roy and Dick have done their best to make the transition as seamless as possible. Our hope is that the story is so engrossing, you won't even notice the shift. "

CBR News has posted the first chapter of "Stoker's Dracula" below, created 30 years ago, plus the final twelve pages from issue #2 featuring all new art by Dick Giordano. See if you can tell the difference.

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