Just in time for Halloween, this September IDW is set to release “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” by Mike Mignola and Roy Thomas. On the face of it, this seems like a natural fit for the acclaimed “Hellboy” creator, with so much of his work carrying an occult sensibility. However, it’s far more interesting than that. Originally released in 1992 by Topps Comics to coincide with the theatrical release of Bram Stoker’s Dracula directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the graphic novel is a beautiful representation of the movie in comic book form. It stands, as well, as an early representation of Mignola’s work, which has been long sought after by fans. Out of print since its original release, it is a wonderful piece of art showcasing one of the industry’s most unique talents.
Adapted by Roy Thomas and Illustrated by Mike Mignola
Mike Mignola is one of the most popular comic book artists of the past thirty years, known for such important works as “Batman: Gotham by Gaslight,” “Cosmic Odyssey,” and, of course, “Hellboy.” Considered to be among Mignola’s greatest works, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” was his last project before “Hellboy” launched and was originally released as a full-color four issue adaptation of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 movie released by Columbia Pictures (Sony). Unavailable for nearly 25 years, and collected here in gorgeous black and white, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” is a book fans have long been clamoring for… and the wait is finally over.
Having not seen Bram Stoker’s Dracula in probably a decade, I can happily say that the story remains as captivating as ever. More so, the comic truly feels like a shot for shot recreation. It would be intriguing to know whether the source story provided to Thomas and Mignola already had the particular shots in mind or if they worked off of an early version of the movie. Nevertheless, it is amazing how close they mirror each other as my mind was able to envision the original scenes while reading through the book.
That does bring up an interesting side note, as fans of the movie will not derive any additional value from the comic book given its close relationship to the movie. However, this shouldn’t be the motivating factor for purchasing the graphic novel. Having seen the movie countless times, I still felt it was very enjoyable to experience the story in a different format. Thus, while it might not be new, it is still truly satisfying. Plus, it is intriguing to notice how you can focus on different aspects of a story given the method in which it is delivered.
While both versions focus as much on their ambiance and mood as the story in and of itself, the heavy shadows coupled with the black and white artwork definitely provides a different perspective. While some areas suffer, such as the added sensuality that can be felt from watching the movie, the comic heightens the creepiness surrounding the Dracula persona. The comic also benefits from the lack of some of the poorer acting performances from the movie (as both Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder received poor reviews), yet it also takes away from the superb performances of Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins. If, like me, you find all the original performances to be perfectly fine, then you end up hearing the performances in your mind as you read through the material anyway.
All that being said, the ultimate motivating factor for picking up “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” is Mike Mignola’s artwork. Released well before the artist had achieved critical success with “Hellboy,” his work on “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” is a perfect example of his masterful use of shadows and negative space. As someone with poor artistic abilities, I find it fascinating to see how much Mignola can do with limited line work and heavy shadows. Of course, that’s simply the way the artwork comes across. Included with the collection are numerous line art pages of Mignola’s work prior to any shading or shadows. Not only are these pages beautiful, but they show the high level of detail in the work and the beautiful, crisp line art. These pages are worth the cover price alone and comparing them to the published counterparts is almost as much fun as reading the story on its own.Continued below
This new release is a wonderful addition to any Mignola collection. While I wouldn’t call it a must-have, anyone picking it up will not be disappointed. Given the difficulty in being able to release it, as Mignola himself has stated “I cannot tell you what a relief it is to have this book back in print,” fans should definitely take this opportunity and appreciate the difficulties that IDW had to overcome to bring this back to market. Interestingly, given the age of the movie, there is a good chance that many readers have never seen it. Thus, the book is not only an artistic feat, it can also act as an impetus for readers to go out and see a brilliant film from one of modern cinema’s great directors.