The Tomb of Dracula
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The Tomb of Dracula

The Tomb of Dracula
The Tomb of Dracula #40 (January 1976)
Cover art by Gene Colan and Frank Giacoia
Dracula (center) with (l. to r.) recurring guest-character Harold H. Harold, and cast-members Rachel van Helsing, Frank Drake, and Quincy Harker
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
FormatOngoing series
Publication dateApril1972 - August1979
No. of issues70
Main character(s)Count Dracula
Creative team
Written byGerry Conway, Archie Goodwin, Gardner Fox, Marv Wolfman
Penciller(s)Gene Colan
Inker(s)Tom Palmer
Collected editions
Essential Tomb of Dracula: Volume 1ISBN 0-7851-0920-X

The Tomb of Dracula is an American horror comic book series published by Marvel Comics from April 1972 to August 1979. The 70-issue series featured a group of vampire hunters who fought Count Dracula and other supernatural menaces. On rare occasions, Dracula would work with these vampire hunters against a common threat or battle other supernatural threats on his own, but more often than not, he was the antagonist rather than protagonist. In addition to his supernatural battles in this series, Marvel's Dracula often served as a supervillain to other characters in the Marvel Universe, battling the likes of Blade, Spider-Man, Werewolf by Night, the X-Men, Howard the Duck, and the licensed Robert E. Howard character Solomon Kane.

Publication history

Original series

In 1971, the Comics Code Authority relaxed some of its longstanding rules regarding horror comics, such as a virtual ban on vampires. Marvel had already tested the waters with a "quasi-vampire" character, Morbius, the Living Vampire, but the company was now prepared to launch a regular vampire title as part of its new line of horror books. After some discussion, it was decided to use the Dracula character,[1] in large part because it was the most famous vampire to the general public, and also because Bram Stoker's creation and secondary characters were by that time in the public domain.

The series suffered from lack of direction for its first year; most significantly, each of the first three issues was plotted by a different writer. Though Gerry Conway is credited as sole writer of issue #1, the plot was actually written by Roy Thomas and editor Stan Lee, and Conway had no input into the issue until it had already been fully drawn.[2] Conway was allowed to plot issue #2 by himself, and wrote a story heavily influenced by the British Hammer Films - a striking departure from the first issue, which was derivative of Universal's monster movies.[2] Conway then quit the book due to an overabundance of writing assignments,[2] and was replaced by Archie Goodwin with issue #3. Goodwin quit after only two issues, but also made major changes to the series's direction, including the introduction of cast members Rachel Van Helsing and Taj Nital.[2] New writer Gardner Fox took the series in yet another direction, and introduced a romance between Frank Drake and Rachel Van Helsing, which would remain a subplot for the rest of the series. However, Thomas (who had by this time succeeded Lee as the editor of The Tomb of Dracula) felt that Fox's take did not work, and took him off the book after only two issues.[2]

The title gained stability and hit its stride when Marv Wolfman became scripter with the seventh issue,[3] though Wolfman himself has contended that he was floundering on the series until the story arc in issues #12-14, remarking, "This storyline is when I finally figured out what this book was about."[2] The entire run of The Tomb of Dracula was penciled by Gene Colan, with Tom Palmer inking all but #1, 2, and 8-11. Gil Kane drew many of the covers for the first few years, as he did for many other Marvel titles. Colan based the visual appearance of Marvel's Dracula not on Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, or any other actor who had played the vampire on film, but rather on actor Jack Palance.[2] Palance would play Dracula in a television production of Stoker's novel the year after The Tomb of Dracula debuted.

Colan, already one of Marvel's most well-established and prominent artists, said he had lobbied for the assignment.

When I heard Marvel was putting out a Dracula book, I confronted [editor] Stan [Lee] about it and asked him to let me do it. He didn't give me too much trouble but, as it turned out, he took that promise away, saying he had promised it to Bill Everett. Well, right then and there I auditioned for it. Stan didn't know what I was up to, but I spent a day at home and worked up a sample, using Jack Palance as my inspiration and sent it to Stan. I got a call that very day: "It's yours."[4]

Wolfman and Colan developed a bond while working on the series, on which they collaborated closely. Colan recalled, "He'd give me a written plot, but he'd also discuss it with me over the phone. I tended to ask questions, rather than to have him assume I got the idea."[2]

Dracula encountered the Werewolf by Night in a crossover story beginning in The Tomb of Dracula #18 (March 1974) and continuing the same month in Werewolf by Night #15 with both chapters written by Wolfman.[5][6] A brief meeting between Dracula and Spider-Man occurred in the first issue of Giant-Size Spider-Man.[7][8]The Tomb of Dracula #44 featured a crossover story with Doctor Strange #14, another series which was being drawn by Colan at the time.[9][10][11]The Tomb of Dracula ran for 70 issues, until August 1979. Comics historian Les Daniels noted that "With an unbroken run of seventy issues over the course of more than seven years, Marvel's The Tomb of Dracula was the most successful comic book series to feature a villain as its title character."[12] As cancellation loomed, Wolfman made to wrap up the storyline and lingering threads by issue #72. But Jim Shooter, then the editor-in-chief, retroactively cut two issues after the artwork had been completed for three. As Wolfman recalled,

I think I realized we were doing a finite story and to continue that storyline would have pushed it into repetition. ... I wrote the final three issues and they were drawn. Jim was someone that when he liked you there was nothing he wouldn't do for you, and when he didn't, there was nothing he would do. He and I had butted heads often since I had been editor-in-chief before him ... and I was also the editor of TOD, which rankled him as I didn't have to listen to his ideas. Anyway, I said the stories were done and I needed the room. He gave me a double-sized last issue, I really needed a triple-sized book. I was stuck and had to find a way to cut 14 pages from the printed book. Thank God I hadn't dialogued them all yet, so I cut [up] pages, rearranged stuff then dialogued it so it read smoothly.'[13]

Twelve of those pages, which Wolfman had saved as photocopies, appeared in the hardcover reprint collection Tomb of Dracula Omnibus Vol. 2. The series culminated with the death of Quincy Harker and Dracula's apparent death and dispersal.

In 2010, Comics Bulletin ranked Wolfman, Colan, and Palmer's run on The Tomb of Dracula fifth on its list of the "Top 10 1970s Marvels".[14]

Dracula Lives!

A black-and-white magazine, Dracula Lives!, published by "Marvel Monster Group", ran from 1973 to 1975.[15]Dracula Lives! ran 13 issues plus a reprint annual. Running concurrently with Tomb of Dracula, the continuities of the two titles occasionally overlapped, with storylines weaving between the two. Most of the time the stories in Dracula Lives! were stand-alone tales, including a serialized adaptation of the original Bram Stoker novel, in 10- to 12-page installments written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Dick Giordano.

Giant-Size Dracula

Tomb of Dracula was supplemented by a "Giant-Size" companion quarterly that ran for five issues in the mid-1970s.[16] Artist John Byrne's first story for Marvel Comics, "Dark Asylum", was published in Giant-Size Dracula #5 (June 1975).[17]

Black-and-white magazine

The color title Tomb of Dracula was succeeded by another black-and-white magazine, also called Tomb of Dracula, with stories also drawn by Gene Colan. It lasted six issues from 1979 to 1980.[18]

Post-series Dracula appearances

Several years later, Dracula encountered the X-Men twice.[19][20] Although Dracula (and all other vampires in the Marvel Universe) were eventually destroyed by the mystical Montesi Formula in the pages of Doctor Strange #62 (December 1983),[21] the vampire lord was revived. Marvel published a four-issue Tomb of Dracula miniseries, reuniting Wolfman and Colan, under its Epic Comics imprint in 1991,[22] and revived Dracula and his foes in the short-lived Nightstalkers and Blade series in the 1990s. Some unresolved plot threads from The Tomb of Dracula were addressed in the final three issues of Nightstalkers. These included the fates of Dracula's bride Domini, their son Janus, and vampire-hunter Taj Nital. Dracula took the title role in the miniseries Dracula: Lord of the Undead.

Two more four-issue miniseries followed. Stoker's Dracula continued and concluded the adaptation of the original Bram Stoker novel Dracula by writer Roy Thomas and artist Dick Giordano, which had begun in Dracula Lives 30 years prior.[23] Another Tomb of Dracula miniseries followed found Blade joined a new team of vampire hunters to prevent Dracula achieving godhood. Apocalypse vs. Dracula featured Dracula battling Apocalypse, an immortal foe of the superhero team the X-Men, in Victorian London.

Major characters

Dracula attempting to "vampirize" Rachel van Helsing in The Tomb of Dracula #40 (January 1976). Art by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer.
  • Dracula
  • Quincy Harker, son of Jonathan and Mina and disabled leader of the vampire hunters; he died in a battle with Dracula.
  • Rachel van Helsing,[24] granddaughter of Abraham Van Helsing and leader of the vampire hunters upon Harker's death; she was turned into a vampire by Dracula and subsequently given a mercy killing by Wolverine of the X-Men.[20]
  • Blade the Vampire Slayer,[25] son of a woman bitten by a vampire during childbirth and a valued, yet reluctant ally to Quincy Harker's band of vampire hunters. Blade possesses quasi-vampiric abilities, including a greatly prolonged lifespan and the ability to sense supernatural creatures, as well as an immunity to complete vampirism.
  • Frank Drake, descendant of Dracula and charter member of Quincy Harker's vampire hunters. Note: Drake's bloodline is based on one of Dracula's marriages prior to his vampirism.
  • Hannibal King, a vampire hunter and private investigator who is himself a reluctant vampire, frequent partner of Blade & Drake. He subsisted solely on blood he acquired from blood banks or corpses he found and had never taken blood directly from a human being, thus he was able to survive the Montesi Formula and be restored to normal human status.
  • Taj Nital, a mute Indian Muslim vampire hunter of considerable strength (sufficient to temporarily restrain Dracula) whose son Adri was vampirized, and who was later transformed into a vampire, and destroyed in Nightstalkers #18.
  • Safron Caulder, a showgirl from London and Blade's recurring girlfriend. She sometimes found herself a typical damsel in distress, but was always rescued by Blade despite an instance when he was nearly tricked into staking her.
  • Lilith, Daughter of Dracula,[16] an immortal vampire who was cursed to never die until her father was permanently destroyed; when slain, she was reborn into the body of an innocent woman who wanted her father dead.
  • Deacon Frost, the vampire responsible for the death of Blade's mother and Hannibal King's vampirism. He was an upstart contender for the title of Lord of the Vampires, a title held by Dracula at the time.
  • Harold H. Harold, a hack writer who befriended the vampire hunters in an effort to get material for a book he was writing. He fell victim to Dracula and became a vampire (in Howard the Duck magazine #5)--though this did not stop him from becoming a successful Hollywood film producer. Like all vampires, he perished as a result of the casting of the Montesi Formula.[21]
  • Anton Lupeski, a Satanic priest through whom Dracula manipulated a cult while impersonating Satan.
  • Domini, a member of Anton Lupeski's cult whom Dracula chose as his bride.
  • Janus, the son of Dracula and Domini, who was possessed by an angel. He was returned to his child form and at age five was kidnapped by the vampire Varnae (in the back story of Nightstalkers #16-18).
  • Varnae, the first vampire (and, at one point, enemy of Conan the Barbarian). He was the Lord of the Vampires prior to Dracula and although he died in the process of making Dracula his heir, he was later revived. He was inspired by the 19th century character Varney the Vampire.
  • Nimrod the First, another Lord of the Vampires prior to Dracula, who killed him in Nimrod's first appearance (Dracula Lives! #3). When Dracula's origin was revised in Bizarre Adventures #33, Nimrod was no longer the true Lord of the Vampires; instead, he was a mentally imbalanced servant of Varnae and had been empowered by his master as a test of Dracula's worthiness.

Mina is the mother of Quincy, and the wife of Count Dracula. She died in a great battle, but she was turned into a vampire by her beloved husband Count Dracula. She acts like a human rather than a vampire. She is the Queen of Romania.

Collected editions

Some of the nudity was removed from the fourth volume. Publisher Dan Buckley explained, "That wasn't because we were going to bookstores, or because we were exclusively going to hobby shops. It probably had more with where we were at from a ratings standpoint and the editors felt that was the appropriate thing to do, considering how we communicate what's going on in our books from a packaging standpoint. ...We generally avoid nudity, unless it's a MAX title. We don't want to take an Essential volume and start calling it MAX; then you get into branding issues."[26] Retailers' opinions on the matter were split.[27]

  • Tomb of Dracula Omnibus
    • Volume 1 collects The Tomb of Dracula #1-31, Werewolf by Night #15, Giant-Size Chillers #1, and Giant-Size Dracula #2-4, 784 pages, November 2008, ISBN 978-0785127789
    • Volume 2 collects The Tomb of Dracula #32-70, Giant-Size Dracula #5, and Dr. Strange #14, 816 pages, December 2009, ISBN 978-0785135760
    • Volume 3 collects Tomb of Dracula magazine #1-6, Frankenstein Monster #7-9, and Dracula Lives! #1-13, 944 pages, January 2011, ISBN 978-0785135784
  • The Tomb of Dracula color trade paperbacks
    • Volume 1 collects Tomb of Dracula #1-12, 264 pages, July 2010, ISBN 978-0785143864
    • Volume 2 collects Tomb of Dracula #13-23, Werewolf by Night #15, Giant-Size Chillers #1, 272 pages, October 2010, ISBN 978-0785149224
    • Volume 3 collects Tomb of Dracula #24-31, Giant-Size Dracula #2-4, 248 pages, January 2011, ISBN 978-0785149835
  • The Tomb of Dracula - The Complete Collection
    • Volume 1 collects The Tomb of Dracula #1-15 and Dracula Lives #1-4, 512 Pages, October 2017, ISBN 978-1-302-90931-4

Other media

TV movie

Dracula: Sovereign Of The Damned
(Yami no Tei?: Ky?ketsuki Dorakyura)
GenreHorror supernatural fiction
Anime television film
Directed byMinoru Okazaki
Produced byYoshiaki Koizumi
Yoshifumi Hatano
Takeyuki Suzuki
Written byTadaaki Yamazaki
Music bySeiji Yokoyama
StudioToei Animation
Licensed byMarvel Entertainment
Original networkTV Asahi
ReleasedAugust 19, 1980
Runtime94 minutes
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and manga portal

In 1980, an anime television movie based on The Tomb of Dracula was released.[28][29] It was titled Dracula: Sovereign Of The Damned[30] (? , Yami no Tei?: Ky?ketsuki Dorakyura, lit. Emperor of Darkness: Vampire Dracula). Much of the main plot was condensed and many characters and subplots were truncated or omitted. The film was animated in Japan by Toei and sparsely released on cable TV in North America in 1983 by Harmony Gold dubbed into English[31] under the title Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned.

Voice cast


Blade, a character introduced in The Tomb of Dracula, has been featured in a series of three films: Blade (1998), Blade II (2002), and Blade: Trinity (2004), as well as a short-lived television series titled Blade: The Series (2006). Other Tomb of Dracula characters, Deacon Frost and Hannibal King, have been featured in these films (Frost in Blade, King in Blade: Trinity), albeit in heavily revised forms. Reference to the Tomb of Dracula series is made in Blade: Trinity when King shows an issue of the comic to Blade.

Dracula himself does not appear in the series until Blade: Trinity, in which he goes by the name of "Drake" and features an origin and powers that differ from the comics. He is played in the film by Dominic Purcell. Given Drake's age and origin, he, more than any other vampire that followed, can harness a much greater and more dynamic range of abilities. He possesses superhuman strength, much greater than that of Blade, as well as incredible speed. Like those he sired, he is capable of leaping great distances and seems to be knowledgeable of sword fighting techniques, even rivaling Blade himself. Drake's true power is derived from his origin as the first of his species. The manipulation of energies which led to his first resurrection left Drake with two forms: human and a demonic alter ego. In this form, Drake is much stronger, resilient to all forms of damage and much taller than his human form. He possesses very keen senses, allowing him, for example, to catch an arrow in mid-air.

The Curse of Dracula

Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan returned to Dracula comics with The Curse of Dracula, a three-issue miniseries published in 1998. The miniseries was published by Dark Horse Comics and was not officially associated with Marvel's Dracula series.[33][34] A trade paperback collection was published in 2005.[35]


  1. ^ Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 155. ISBN 978-0756641238. Following the revision of the Comics Code, Stan Lee was eager to do a comics series about the archetypal vampire, novelist Bram Stoker's Dracula. Based on a few ideas from Lee, Roy Thomas plotted the first issue of The Tomb of Dracula, which Gerry Conway then scripted. The interior art was penciled by Gene Colan.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Field, Tom (2005). Secrets in the Shadows: The Art & Life of Gene Colan. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 98-106. ISBN 978-1893905450.
  3. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 155
  4. ^ Greenberger, Robert. "Inside the Tome of Dracula", Marvel Spotlight: Marvel Zombies Return (2009), p. 27 (unnumbered)
  5. ^ Wolfman, Marv (w), Colan, Gene (p), Palmer, Tom (i). "Enter: Werewolf by Night" The Tomb of Dracula 18 (March 1974)
  6. ^ Wolfman, Marv (w), Ploog, Mike (p), Chiaramonte, Frank (i). "Death Of A Monster!" Werewolf by Night 15 (March 1974)
  7. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2012). "1970s". Spider-Man Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 74. ISBN 978-0756692360. With this first in a series of oversized specials for the wall-crawler, Spider-Man met the most famous vampire of all when he crossed paths with Dracula.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Wein, Len (w), Andru, Ross (p), Heck, Don (i). "Ship of Fiends" Giant-Size Spider-Man 1 (July 1974)
  9. ^ Wolfman, Marv (w), Colan, Gene (p), Palmer, Tom (i). "His Name Is Doctor Strange" The Tomb of Dracula 44 (May 1976)
  10. ^ Englehart, Steve (w), Colan, Gene (p), Palmer, Tom (i). "The Tomb of Dr. Strange!" Doctor Strange v2, 14 (May 1976)
  11. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 175: "The great Marvel artist Gene Colan was doing superb work illustrating both Doctor Strange and The Tomb of Dracula. So it made sense for Strange writer Steve Englehart and Tomb author Marv Wolfman to devise a crossover story."
  12. ^ Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. New York City: Harry N. Abrams. p. 156. ISBN 9780810938212.
  13. ^ Greenberger, p. 31 (unnumbered)
  14. ^ Sacks, Jason (September 6, 2010). "Top 10 1970s Marvels". Comics Bulletin. Archived from the original on August 1, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  15. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 159: "Marvel added to its black-and-white magazine line with this anthology of stories about the vampire lord Dracula."
  16. ^ a b c Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 165: "Dracula won his own double-sized quarterly comic, Giant-Size Chillers, which became Giant-Size Dracula with its second issue in September. Issue #1 introduced Lilith, Dracula's daughter."
  17. ^ Isabella, Tony (May 4, 2001). "Tony's Tips". Comics Buyer's Guide. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications (1433). Retrieved 2012.
  18. ^ The Tomb of Dracula magazine at the Grand Comics Database
  19. ^ Claremont, Chris (w), Sienkiewicz, Bill (p), Wiacek, Bob (i). "Night Screams!" The Uncanny X-Men 159 (July 1982)
  20. ^ a b Claremont, Ch (w), Sienkiewicz, Bill (p), Wiacek, Bob (i). "Blood Feud!" X-Men Annual 6 (1982)
  21. ^ a b Stern, Roger (w), Leialoha, Steve (p), Leialoha, Steve (i). "Deliver Us from Evil" Doctor Strange v2, 62 (December 1983)
  22. ^ Tomb of Dracula (Epic Comics) at the Grand Comics Database
  23. ^ Weiland, Jonah (September 30, 2004). "30 Years of Horror: Editor Beazley talks the return of Stoker's Dracula". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on September 5, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  24. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 156: "Created by writer Archie Goodwin and artist Gene Colan, the blonde vampire slayer Rachel van Helsing debuted in The Tomb of Dracula #3."
  25. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 160: "Early in their collaboration on The Tomb of Dracula, writer Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan co-created Blade, a black man who stalked and killed vampires with the wooden blades after which he named himself."
  26. ^ "Interview with Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley, Pt. 3". November 27, 2006. Archived from the original on June 11, 2011. Retrieved 2012.
  27. ^ Rogers, Vaneta (October 3, 2002). "Talking Shop: Age Appropriate?". Newsarama. Archived from the original on November 26, 2006. Retrieved 2012.
  28. ^ Jones, Stephen (2000). The Essential Monster Movie Guide: A Century of Creature Features on Film, TV, and Video. New York City: Billboard Books. p. 119. ISBN 978-0823079360.
  29. ^ Sanderson, Peter (September-October 1981). "The Dead Yet Move: Toei's Animated Tomb of Dracula Movie". Comics Feature. New Media Publishing (12/13): 58.
  30. ^ Sevakis, Justin (June 4, 2009). "Buried Garbage - Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on October 21, 2010. Retrieved 2011.
  31. ^ Lyons, Kevin (August 16, 2009). "Yami no Toei Kyuketsuki Dracula (1980)". Archived from the original on December 31, 2012. Retrieved 2011.
  32. ^ "Emperor of Darkness Dracula". Spider-Man blog (in Japanese). June 14, 2008. Archived from the original on May 3, 2010. Retrieved 2012.English language translation from Google Translate
  33. ^ Latta, D. K. (2005). "Pulp and Dagger Graphic Novel Review The Curse of Dracula". Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved 2012. [Wolfman and Colan] were at Dark Horse Comics which meant that, although they could use Dracula (as he's in the public domain) they had to create a new supporting cast, and even reinvent their titular villain himself so as not to rouse Marvel's lawyers.
  34. ^ The Curse of Dracula at the Grand Comics Database
  35. ^ The Curse of Dracula trade paperback at the Grand Comics Database

External links

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