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Image's 'Dracula, Motherf**ker' graphic novel takes a knife to Bram Stoker's vampire tale

By Jeff Spry
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With a sly nod to pulpy, grindhouse horror cinema of the Swingin' Seventies, a new vampire graphic novel from Image Comics hopes to resurrect the subgenre and deliver a scary swagger to readers as we slowly approach Halloween — and SYFY WIRE is sharing an exclusive bite out of its entrancing story.

Written by bestselling author Alex de Campi (No Mercy, Bad Girls, Archie vs Predator) and adorned with spellbinding artwork by Eisner Award winner Erica Henderson (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Jughead), Dracula, Motherf**ker arrives in comic shops Oct. 7. It's a tempting 72-page twist on the familiar Bram Stoker terror saga, this time set in the shadows of Southern California's Hollywood dreamland and 19th century Austria.

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Drifting between two distinct timelines, Dracula, Motherf**ker ventures beyond the old world charm of Vienna in 1889 as the vampire king's petulant brides nail him to the bottom of his coffin, then onward to Los Angeles of 1974, where a has-been starlet decides to raise the stakes. Dedicated crime scene photographer Quincy Harker the is sole man who witnesses the horror and knows how it happened, but will anyone believe him before he gets a white chalk outline of his own? 

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De Campi believes Dracula is one of those classic horror tales that people like to claim they’re doing bold reimaginings of, but they’re actually just dusting Stoker’s old story off and moving it to another room in the house.

"Honestly I think it’s because a lot of the people who rewrite Dracula specifically are men, so it tends to become a bit of a power fantasy," De Campi tells SYFY WIRE. "I mean, Dracula absolutely is a power fantasy, but it’s not an attractive one. The brides and lady victims are there to spur the hero into action, that’s all. But the brides are the most interesting characters, if done well (and they never are). Why did they choose to marry Dracula? Why did Georgina Chapman marry Harvey Weinstein? Why did Melania marry Donald? Don’t say it was love; none of us are that naïve. Or at least, not love of the man. Love of what comes with him, sure, I’d buy that. They are victims, yes, but they are not the blameless and perfect sort of victim that popular narratives like. But that’s why they’re exciting. They thought they knew what they were doing, but it turned out to be ever so much worse than they expected." 

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"The influences on Drac Mofo come from things like the Japanese epic tales (Heike and Genji) which deal a lot with women who ally themselves with power, and what happens when that power moves on," De Campi adds. "There’s also a lot of the abstraction of horror anime in the presentation of Dracula — we don’t diminish him by making him just a man, or even a pretty man. He’s disgusting, and the brides went into this knowing that. He is the shadow inside us all, the corruption that pushes us to not ask at what cost power and fortune comes."

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Award-winning artist Erica Henderson normally likes working with a writer to help craft the plot, working out ideas and figuring out the story together.

"This time, Alex just sent me the script, I immediately read it and I think that same night said that I was down," she tells SYFY WIRE. "I started drawing the book within a few days. This story just hit on so many things that I wanted to work in. It gave me the opportunity to do horror, which I love but haven't had a chance to work on. It gave me the chance to really focus on style. Since it's a graphic novel, I got to play with the way I laid out pages. I like to do something different every time I sit down to a project and this one really let me do that." 

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"Some of the major influences on the style of the book came from '70s poster art, Dario Argento, and Klimt," Henderson notes. "I was focused on intense, unreal colors. I wanted to borrow the heavy design elements that 70's pop art had, without just copying them. The amorphous human shapes in Klimt's art heavily influenced Dracula here, and since he's from another time, I felt fine pulling that in. I have a book of '70s fashion photography that you better believe I pulled out for this. The decade we're focused on is one that often gets made fun of for its bold stylistic choices and I was just happy to revel in it.”

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Image Comics' Dracula, Motherf**ker appears in comic shops Oct. 7 and bookstores Oct. 13.