With Bram Stoker’s Dracula, love never dies.
Well, that was the tag line of the Francis Ford Coppola-directed film, released in the late fall of 1992. Starring Gary Oldman in the title role, alongside a somewhat unlikely pairing of Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves (paired together again in the soon-to-be-released and entirely endearing romantic comedy, Destination Wedding), Bram Stoker’s Dracula was an over-the-top, hyper-sexualized, Gothic take on the classic horror novel.
And, at the hand of Master Director Coppola, it was a visual delight for the senses.
Those visual senses made the leap to the comic book page – under the pencil and pen of a burgeoning Gothic horror master in illustrator Mike Mignola, best known for his Hellboy creation.
Mignola’s career in comics began in the mid 1980’s, first as an inker at Marvel Comics and then as a penciller at DC Comics. I remember his late 80’s Phantom Stranger miniseries well. He had a distinctive blocky yet kinetic style, punctuated by near abstraction, extreme highlights and shadows, and industrious layouts. Jack Kirby was an obvious influence and Mignola’s work lent itself well to stranger, more obscure publications in the genres of science fiction and horror. His Cosmic Odyssey miniseries for DC Comics in 1988, featuring all of the company’s biggest superheroes set in a Kirby-verse story, was a coming out party for Mignola, and he quickly became a sought-after, fan-favourite, artist.
Originally published as a four-issue miniseries in 1992 by Topps Comics, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the official movie adaptation of the Coppola film – in comic book form. Mignola’s Gothic style and penchant for deep shadows was a perfect visual accompaniment for Coppola’s artistic sensibilities and it was his last project before dedicating himself to his own creation, the supremely successful Hellboy comic book series and the universe that evolved out of the B.P.R.D.
Unavailable for nearly twenty-five years, the four issue series has finally been compiled in a gorgeous black and white hardcover format from IDW Publishing, putting the focus directly on Mignola’s visuals: his line work, his panel designs, and, importantly, his blacks.
Love never dies.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a book for lovers of the classic novel; for lovers of Gothic horror; for lovers of art; and for lovers of comic books! It’s a period piece in a number of ways, showcasing the artistic work of a man on the precipice of success that would soon follow.
Make the run to your local comic book shop today and pick up Bram Stoker’s Dracula!