Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The secret Dark Shadows/Vampirella crossover from 1972

Back in 2012, Barnabas Collins finally crossed paths with Vampirella. From a distance it might have seemed like a concept that couldn't fail. Both characters were horror icons from a simpler time, shamelessly flaunting their gothic polyester origins likes badges of honor. Sadly, the six-part mini-series was too little, too late. A meeting between Barnabas and Vampi might have soared 40 years ago, but their 2012 meeting was hobbled by the laziness that plagues too many comics these days. I kind of hated it.

Yesterday, a writer attached to the original VAMPIRELLA magazine revealed online that he conducted a secret crossover of sorts between the alien vampire from Drakulon and DARK SHADOWS back in 1972.

Among the issues of VAMPIRELLA penned by T. Casey Brennan are #19, "The Shadow of Dracula!" and #20 "When Wakes the Dead!", both illustrated by the great Jose "Pepe" Gonzalez. If a few of the characters looked and sounded familiar to DARK SHADOWS fans, it was not by accident. Both issues were direct homages to the series, Brennan said yesterday on Facebook.

"(I) asked the editor to send (Gonzalez) pictures of Lara Parker as Angelique," Brennan wrote. "I carefully re-crafted VAMPIRELLA's Dracula into the intermittently repentant Barnabas. I set the story in my favorite DARK SHADOWS era  – 1897. I used the standard DARK SHADOWS ploy of a look-alike relative for Dracula."

Among Gonzalez's obsessions was Marilyn Monroe, whose portraits by Gonzalez' rival his Vampirella work in popularity. Brennan said he had a different kind of blonde in mind for the role of Lucy Westenra, though.

"Lara Parker was clearly the anti-Marilyn," Brennan told me. "She was the blond sweet Marilyn, without Marilyn's frailty, re-imagined for a more rebellious age. At the time I wrote that story, every girl I knew idolized Angelique.  I'm certain one of the Warren bunch got a picture of her to Jose Gonzales."

By the time Brennan began work on the book, the likeness of Dracula had already been established. The writer said he would have liked for the character to have looked like actor Jonathan Frid, but settled for revising Bram Stoker's predatory monster into something that felt more like Barnabas Collins.

"I couldn't make him look like Frid; his look had already been established," he said. "But I made him SOUND like Barnabas  – poetic, sinister, repentant."

Gonzalez died in 2009 in Barcelona and is the subject of the new documentary series Love Strip. Brennan has a story in the latest issue of Warrant's horror anthology THE CREEPS. You can read a preview of the issues online HERE.

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