After spotlighting generic vampires, Morbius multiple times, and Dracula in a special issue and magazines, I thought it was well past time to dive into Marvel’s best horror comic of the decade (and all time), The Tomb of Dracula! Most probably know this villain from either the Universal film (starring Bela Lugosi), or the Hammer Studio films (starring the insanely menacing Christopher Lee as the count). The character has been embedded in our culture for a very long time (thanks to Bram Stoker). By the time the 1970s rolled around, and the comics code was loosened, it was high time for this horror giant to get his own series! This issue is a favorite of mine, as it features the first appearance of vampire detective Hannibal King, and my favorite panel of the series of all time (final image at the bottom).
Marv Wolfman (writer) has gone on record saying he really had no interest in writing this book, but as fortune would have it, he did anyway (starting with issue #7). He and artist Gene Colan (pencils) would work very close together on this title, and for seventy issues, they knocked it out of the park. Another reason the book succeeded was inker Tom Palmer. Colan has very intricate pencils, and quite a few inkers have had a tough time not drowning the pencils out, but Palmer was perfect for the job. Palmer also colored quite a few issues as well (including this one), and again you get a quality and consistency from a tight-knit team working hand in hand. The letters were provided by John Costanza. A lot of the covers were provided by the comic book giant, Gil Kane (Palmer on inks here as well). Kane’s incredible covers carried Marvel through most of the decade, and it just adds to his enormous breadth of work.
It’s time once again, to spotlight the best comic book title from the Bronze Age! Yes, you read that correctly. Not the best horror comic, THE best comic book, period. The Tomb of Dracula ran for 70 issues, from 1972 until 1979, and was without a doubt one of the best series ever. This little reprint book from 1992 has three issues in it. Two of the issues are back to back (45-46) and one is a standalone (30). The two consecutive issues revolve around Dracula using his influence on a satanic cult, and getting married. Good stuff, but I love the standalone issue better. That one shows Dracula reminiscing about some adventures he had in the past. One in particular where he meets a blind girl is quite fascinating.
The dream team of Marv Wolfman (writer), Gene Colan (pencils), and Tom Palmer (inks and colors), was in place for a while when these issues were published. They were on a roll by this point, and churning out fantastic stories. You add John Costanza (letters), and the crew is complete. This creative team would go on for 70 issues total in this series, and Wolfman and Colan would do more Dracula work in the future as well (Tomb of Dracula, 1991-92 – Epic, and The Curse of Dracula, 1998 – Dark Horse). Whatever the format, get out and grab one of the best books around!
Thanks for all the cheers, high fives, fist bumps, etc., I know you missed me while I was on vacation! Now that I’m back, I want to get back in the groove with one of my all time favorite mash-ups! In the 1970’s, the horror scene went wild, and so did the psychedelic books like Warlock, Man-Thing, and Dr. Strange (Strange had been that way since the Ditko years, but it continued)! Two awesome things that dominated the 1970’s (and early 1980’s) were horror and sorcery. This is the subject of today’s “Mash-up”! The year was 1976, and it was time that Dracula, lord of all vampires, and this dimension’s (616) Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange had to meet!
Both books were selling well at the time (of their fist meeting), and a conflict seemed inevitable. Marvel had the incredible team of Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, and Tom Palmer on The Tomb of Dracula, but not to be outdone, Marvel super-scribe, Steve Englehart (and later, Roger Stern) was writing Dr. Strange at the time (along with Colan and Palmer on art duties – later Green, Leialoha, and others)! So, not only did this story make sense from a buyer’s perspective (most readers probably read both books), but also from an editorial angle as well. Now, without further interruption, here are a few of the great pages/panels from some of those early meetings between Dracula and Dr. Strange! Enjoy! For these stories check out Dr. Strange #14 & Tomb of Dracula #44 (their first meeting), & Dr. Strange #58-62 (The Montesi Formula).
As I dig deeper into the horror craze of the 1970’s, we must make a stop at the best offering of the decade from Marvel. Of course, it’s the Tomb of Dracula, and the incredible creative team of Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan (along with Tom Palmer on inks), wove an incredible story of love and loss, blood and sacrifice. Whether it was Dracula fighting some incredible adversary, or the Vampire Hunters, led by Quincy Harker, this title gave you everything you could want or need from a comic book. Rather than prattling on about it for a year, I’ll just let the work speak for itself. Enjoy!
In this, the last installment of my Gene Colan tribute, we’ll take a look at his finest work. Yes, Gene did tremendous work on all of his projects, but none matched his excellence on The Tomb of Dracula. This collaboration with friends Tom Palmer, and Marv Wolfman, is without a doubt one of the most incredible series in all of comic books in the 1970’s. For anyone that’s read any part of this series, you know what a gift gene and this team gave us. For seventy issues, Gene poured his heart and soul into this book, and that cannot be debated.
In this finale, you’ll see Dracula’s life, his death, his resurrection, his constant battle with Quincy Harker, Blade, and the rest of the Vampire Hunters, and the birth of his son! So, here’s to you, Gene, the one artist who will always be at the top of my list! Rest in Peace, Gentleman Gene!