Knock Knock Knock

*It was about as late as I’d expected last night when the Krampus broke down my door.

Another light Christmas?” I asked the tall, one-hoofed demonic figure.

Nah. It’s ok. Got a couple families out in Austria or thereabouts; they’re keeping the faith.”

I offered the Krampus some of my Special Pennsylvania Dutch Eggnog, packed with brandy and rum and just a whisper of genuine eggnog content.

You sound pretty good...” I began.

I’m great... really. I got to crack a couple whelps with my switch. It’s nice new birch. Thank God a couple parents still listen to St. Nikolaus. Still believe in the value of good punishment...”

He was beginning to rave, I could tell. He grabbed my bottle and snaked his long pointed tongue down the neck.

Fucking Santa. Fucking cola sipping polar bear petting fucking reindeer nose glowing fat son of a bitch.”

Hey,” I interrupted, “Take it easy...”

Aw... aw never mind. Here, I brought you a present.”

Oh! Oh thank you Krampus!” I exclaimed! “It’s the perfect holiday gift! It’s...”

Stoker’s Dracula #2 (of 4)

Quite a lovely book this is, a continuing abberation in Marvel’s increasingly conservative pamphlet publishing schedule. It’s a no-ads b&w literary adaptation, albeit of the ever-popular “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. Portions originally appeared in various Marvel monster magazines in the mid-70's, like “Dracula Lives!” and “Legion of Monsters”. The script is by veteran scribe Roy Thomas and the stately, shadowed art is by Dick Giordano, bringing just a bit of period Marvel style to glam Lucy Westenra, her heavy eye-shadow and straight flowing locks looking ready to storm the hottest discotheque in Whitby. She’s an engaging presence on the page, and Giordano handles her uncertain reaction to the poison advances of the infamous Count with care. Mina Murray, in contrast, barely registers except as a helpful paragon of virtue and fidelity, although this is Lucy’s portion of the story, and the book is well-paced to contain the focus on her, just as the initial issue focused entirely on Jonathan Harker’s imprisonment in Castle Dracula. Considering that the story was not originally intended as a stand-alone comics miniseries, we can only view this careful containment of character arcs as a happy accident of structure, perhaps pressed along by editorial guidance.

This issue is where the original material runs out, and Thomas and Giordano have produced brand-new material to continue (and ultimately conclude) the adaptation through the end of this issue and the entirety of the next two. There’s little variation in Giordano’s style between the new and vintage material; his figures may seem slightly more rounded, with subtler shading around the edges, but this is only discernible upon close examination. There is otherwise a very smooth transition between the old and the new; certainly Thomas’ script offers no major variations in approach to the newer material. The story adapts quite neatly to comics right from the beginning, with the document-based format of Stoker’s prose plugging into the character narration style of captioned comics storytelling very calmly, though the results occasionally seem wordy. But a good balance between dialogue and captions is struck; the result is a satisfyingly substantial read.

Marvel has also thrown in some of the original ‘The Story Thus Far’ pages from the original magazine serializations, which recycled certain panels and captions with a bit of new narration. Unfortunately, the images are presented at three or four to a page, which makes them extremely difficult to read without putting the book to your nose and squinting. It was a nice thought, but page constraints have robbed it of utility. Being of a far more recent vintage than Marvel’s recent Golden Age book of reprints, the 70's material is reproduced clearly, and the transition to contemporary work has no opportunity to offer a leap in reading quality, which is fortunate. In general, this continues to be a fine presentation of a slightly old-fashioned but highly skilled adaptation of a much-influential work. I’m onboard until the end.

So what did you get today giftwise?” slurred the Krampus.

Lots of great stuff. I got the more recent Werner Herzog box set, the non-Kinski one, with the Bruno S. Films and some of the wacky documentaries. I also got that “More Treasures From American Film Archives” box, which has all sorts of awesome stuff, like the earliest surviving sound film from 1894, which had this guy playing a violin into a gigantic receiving horn while two stoic mustachioed men dance together off to the side. It kind of looks like a scene out of Herzog, actually...”

Yeah. So what’s going on now?”

Like, now?”

Yeah, now while you’re typing this, not now while you’re talking to me. Right now I mean.”

Well, my brother is playing his guitar for everyone in the other room. My little cousin was trying to read my Dracula review and I helped her with a few words (I scrolled down past the profanities so they were hidden beyond the top of the monitor). It’s dark already, but it’s not late. It’s nice. It’s a very nice time.”


"Say. Maybe I should, like, join them?"

But the Krampus was already gone, and so was my bottle, as well as the liquor cabinet entire.

So I stopped typing this, here, now, late in the afternoon.

And Merry Whatever It Is to You too.

(And for more delightful info on the Krampus, go look at the Monte Beauchamp edited Fantagraphics release “The Devil in Design: The Krampus Postcards”, which I will never stop plugging ever)