Who remembers Dracula, short-lived comic from New English Library, its strips later collected into a full-colour large-format hardback?
Are you a fan of Spanish artist Esteban Maroto, who drew strips for it? Well there’s some good news…
Reprinting Spanish horror strips for a British audience featuring art by Esteban Maroto (Esteban Maroto Torres) and others, the short-lived 24-page comic, offered in a partwork format, wasn’t the cheapest comic on the British market, and Dracula himself appeared only once.
Launched at a time when Bram Stoker’s most famous creation was still enjoying success in other medium, it certainly seems to have struck a chord with those who did buy it, including Lew Stringer, who documents it here on his brilliant Blimey! blog, and John Coulthart, who discovered it through the hardback collection of the first six issues.
Running for just 12 issues in the UK but many more in Spain, the title was published by New English Library, better known perhaps as a book publisher. The company also brought us the magazine, Target (published between March 1972 and April 1973, this should not to be confused with the Polystyle comic of the same name, published later), and the fondly-remembered Science Fiction Monthly (published between January 1974 and April 1976).
Dracula led with “Wolff”, a Conan-styled barbarian warrior pitted against sorcery, a strip drawn by Esteban Maroto, and also featured “Sir Leo”, a horror-styled adventure strip which centred on a Victorian investigator of the strange and unknown, a regular strip in later issues, drawn by José Beá (aka Josep M. Beá / Josep Maria Bea).
Readers were also treated to the more distinctly SF story “Agar-Agar” drawn by Alberto Solsona; and one-off stories drawn by Enric Sió and José Beá, too.
The comic was collected into a hardback book in the UK referenced by John Coulthart that I think I have lurking in a box somewhere, and the first six issues by Warren in the United States. (A second volume was never published).
Dracula first appeared as a weekly comic in Spain, published by Buru Lan Comics, running for 60 issues, followed by reissues and collections, a far more successful run than its British run, documented here on the indispensable Spanish-language Tebeosfera comics site.
Esteban Maroto is considered one of the historical Spanish authors in the world of comics. With a unique graphic style, the renowned artist is well known for his work in American publications such as Creepy, Conan, Vampirella or Aquaman. In Spain, he has published his works with Toutain, Norma Editorial, Editores de Tebeos or Planeta Cómic, among many others.
His experience, expertise and recognition in the US market also enable Los Mitos del Cthulhu (Planeta, 2016) to be published there.
If you’re a fan his work, then you may like to know that Spanish publisher Planeta released Vlad Dracula in one volume last year. The good news is that there’s an English language edition coming in September from Idea & Design Works, which is now available to pre-order.
Written by Roy Thomas with art by Esteban Maroto, it’s a luxury collection of the strip originally published by Topps in the United Stated in the early 1990s, not the strip from Dracula comic, but this edition is in black and white, scanned from original art.
The plot features the youth and early years of the reign of Vlad Dracula, the true Vlad Tepes who influenced the myth we all know, adding all the ingredients necessary to feed the legend of the world’s most famous vampire.
While Dracula proved a short-lived title from New English Library, Marvel UK would of course enjoy far greater success on the news stand just a couple of years later with Dracula Lives!.
Launched in 1974, the comic ran for 87 issues, reprinting parent company Marvel’s Tomb Of Dracula and Werewolf By Night, plus, over its popular run, Frankenstein’s Monster, Brother Voodoo, The Living Mummy, The Legion of Monsters, Man-Thing, Ghost Rider … just about every recurring character from Marvel 1970s horror boom, in fact, merging with Planet of the Apes in June 1976.
• Blimey! Dracula of the Newsagents – by Lew Stringer
With thanks to Paul Goodenough for sending me down this rabbit hole