Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dracula – classics illustrated edition – review

Author: Bram Stoker*

Adapted by: Naunerle Farr

Illustrated by: Nestor Redondo

First published: unknown**

* Whilst the book lists Bram Stoker, the inclusion of him as author seems, on the surface, somewhat generous given the liberties taken with the story. However some of the dialogue is lifted from the original novel.

** The edition I have (Pendulum Press Ltd) states 1981. There is a Saddleback Edition (with the illustrations coloured) that states 2006. Whether there was an earlier edition is unknown.

Contains spoilers

This is a cut down, graphic version of Bram Stoker’s novel designed for children and – on the face of it – for use in school libraries. The end of the book carries “words to know” – such as bloodthirsty and chapel – and a list of questions – such as “Why did Dracula throw away the mirror?”

That said, the ‘about the author’ preface is both strange and laughable at the same time – given the target of the book. Strange in that quoting Montague Summers and listing his bibliography in respect of vampires seems an odd direction when aiming for school kids as an audience. Laughable as it teaches them that in 1847, when Stoker was born, reports of vampirism were rampant – that would seem to be more relevant to the vampire scares over a century earlier. It is also somewhat inaccurate to suggest that Stoker only wrote one other novel – Lair of the White Worm – he wrote several novels, though perhaps it is true to say that they are little known nowadays.

As occurs when Dracula is adapted, characters are curtailed. In this case the book illustrates the main players at the head of the story. We have Dracula (just as well), Jonathon Harker, Dr Van Helsing, Mina and Lucy. Seward and Holmewood appear in actually quite minor roles, though Arthur is still engaged to Lucy, stakes her and kills Dracula with Jonathon.The book begins with Jonathon already locked in the castle, and then flash backing to his journey. Strangely, aspects that are often lost – such as Mrs Westenra’s heart attack when the wolf smashes the window and her maids being drugged – are actually included within the tale.

The illustrations are vaguely reminiscent of the style also used in Marvel’s Stoker’ Dracula, though I prefer the Marvel illustrations and, generally, the Marvel version is more worthwhile – being as it is more accurate as a retelling. That is not to say that the illustrations are poor, indeed some where quite lovely.

However, this was designed for children, it does bring the novel into range for them, introduces them to vampires and adds bloodthirsty into their vocabulary. As a first introduction, coming in at under 60 pages (for the actual graphic) this is quite good. For an adult – if you were to spot it around – I would say it is worthwhile as a part of a wider collection. I have seen the Saddleback version and I found the inking sloppy and the colours garish – personally I would say look out for the book in Black and White. 5 out of 10.


The Dirge Of Gabriel said...

This reminds me of the old EC comics I used to read as a kid in primary school in the early-mid eighties I got from the newsagent across the road. They were on newsprint and has such stories as the 13th floor where a sentient building working with an unwilling super would punish bad/evil tenants in the secret level.

They don't make comics like these anymore - they had a kind of "Dark Shadows" feel about them that made them great - and all the stories were ultimately tragic - it would be good to get hold of them again. Actually speaking of that I think they (Dark Horse Comics) are re-releasing the old "Creepy" comics again - which in turn became EC or vice versa - would be good to get a hold of!

here is an article about it:

The Dirge Of Gabriel said...

Oh and speaking of Marvel Dracula, I have the first collection of TOMB OF DRACULA - it's great stuff!

Similarly was WEREWOLF BY NIGHT.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I fully intend to get the Tomb of Drac volumes (prob the collected one) at some point

Amateur Vampirologist said...

Wow. I haven't seen that "graphic novel" since primary school!

It formed part of my burgeoning interest in vampires. Great to see it again!

Regarding the collected Tomb of Dracula, I should mention that it has been slightly censored.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

such is life I'm afraid. :(