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Dracula, Motherf**ker (Image Comics) Comic Review

    Ian Jane

  • Dracula, Motherf**ker (Image Comics) Comic Review

    Dracula, Motherf**ker (Image Comics) Comic Review
    Released by: Image Comics
    Released on: October 7th, 2020.
    Written by: Alex De Campi
    Illustrated by: Erica Henderson
    Purchase From Amazon

    Sometimes a good title is all it takes. At the time of this writing, I've just finished cleaning the kitchen, cranked out four reviews that needed to be cranked out, and honestly, I could use a nice little nap right now but then, in my inbox, I see it - a chance to review something called Dracula, Motherfucker (the **'s are in the formal title but here at R!S!P! we're okay with the F-word), coming out in October. That leaves plenty of time to get a review done, but with my attention officially grabbed, here I am, at the keyboard, Beck's king can in hand once again devoid of the proper amount of sleep.

    But enough about insomnia and drinking problems. What is this gleefully profane seventy-two-page one-shot from Image Comics all about? The first page transports us back in time to the Vienna of 1889, a city, we're told, that is in love with death. And death would seem to reciprocate, as we see a trio of lovely young women crack open a sarcophagus and stake the body of the unholy creation resting inside.

    Cut to Los Angeles, 1974, a city, we're told, that is in love with youth. Actress Bebe Beauland and boy toy Ricky are at a party when she splits to head into a back room where she cracks open a sarcophagus and then gasps before she can, presumably, stake what is inside.

    Later, a photographer named Quincy Harker gripes about the state of the city to a cop. We cut to a crime scene where Quincy shows up sooner than attending officers Pete and Luis anticipated. He heads inside, camera in hand, and is shocked to see a bit of a bloodbath. As he snaps part of the crime scene that hasn't been checked out by the cops yet, he's kicked out, unable to see that the corpse he just photographed has opened its previously closed eyes.

    Quincy figures this is front page material but is understandably bummed when the pictures don't sell for what he'd hoped they would sell for. He heads out into the night, looking for leads, talking to streetwalkers, and winds up getting a tip regarding a woman's body down by the river with some strange marks on her neck. He shows up, gets his shots and is approached by one Bebe Beauland who is absolutely not what she seems, only to be saved by a mysterious vampiress.

    With bills mounting and his photos not selling, Quincy takes a gig as a party photographer. When he gets off the phone, three alluring young women with prominent fangs offer to accompany him to the party, talking about their ex-husband, Dracula, and how the party is a trap. Not wanting to die, Quincy listens to what they have to say, and we'll leave it at that.

    It's clear that De Camp is a big movie buff, as the script has reference to Sunset Boulevard, the Lon Chaney version of The Phantom Of The Opera and, of course, vampire pictures, but this is something made specifically for comics that could probably not be properly told in any other medium. She's always had a unique voice in the industry, be it her work on cash cow properties like the two Archie Vs. Predator stories or something more subversive like the Grindhouse series that she did for Dark Horse, bringing what would appear to be a pretty vast knowledge of cult movies and pulp fiction to her work without letting that bury her characters. That carries over to this story as well, a singular tale that works on a few different levels once you start to think about it all and let it sink in. It's more than just a tale of a down on his luck photographer getting into trouble with vampires, there's very definitely a metaphorical aspect to all of this and despite being set primarily in 1974, it resonates with what modern America has become.

    I wasn't overy familiar with Erica Henderson's artwork before this, having only seen it in the pages of Archie Comics' Jughead reboot, but I'm glad I am now. Her work here is flat out beautiful, at times strikingly strange in the way that something like Hausu is strikingly strange, with some genuinely wild layouts really pulling you into the storyline. She colored her own work here so the visuals would seem to be 100% her own vision throughout, and while it gets surreal and psychedelic at times, it always works in the context of what's happening to Quincy and company. This is the type of art you need to stare at for a while to really take in and appreciate. It's beautiful, weird and wonderful.

    Once the story itself is over we get a few pages of interesting character designs, some notes from Harker on the page design elements that she employed (doing her layouts as spreads rather than single pages) and how she colored the pages as she went along. This text is genuinely interesting if you have an interest in how comic book art works and how artists can and do effect the flow of the story with their layouts. She also points out that she never felt the need to work with realistic color but was more concerned with setting the right tone.

    There's also a brief essay by De Campi entitled, simply, On Monsters, in which she shares her thoughts on how Dracula should never be pretty (even if it is easier), how she's always been fascinated by Dracula's brides and why (making an apt comparison to Melania Trump!), putting much of what she's written with this story into context not just in terms of pulp fiction, but also in terms of 'the unchecked predatory actions of powerful men.' She also talks about her influences and why she pulled what she did from them for this project, why the story is set in Los Angeles and how much she enjoyed working with Erica on this project. A single page from the script is also included, and it's both interesting and humorous.

    With Dracula, Motherfucker Alex De Campi and Erica Henderson do an amazing job of taking advantage of what the comic book medium can allow talented creatives to do, running wild with a genuinely cool concept and putting a fresh spin on a classic genre. Highly recommended!

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