ADVANCE REVIEW: "Dracula motherf*ker:" Elseworld vampires in beautiful but forgettable thriller

Written by Alex de Campi, Art by Erica Henderson.

Quincy Harker is a photographer in LA during 1974. He’s looking for the big story that will establish him as a photographer. Using his connections, he finally gets a lead to a horrific murder scene. Sensing this could be his chance to make it, he jumps on it and quickly gets lost searching for the truth, uncovering something very dark and twisted. Will he be able to convince everyone of the evil that is stirring if he can’t can he deal with it on his own?

This is an interesting one, not a sequel or a reboot. This is more an alternate universe of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Centering around Quincy Harker (Quincy Morris in the original). Setting this during the '70s in LA seems like a great idea. The setting and time period both known for its drug scene, means that Erica Henderson can really play with the colours. As the creators stated in the book's bonus material, they didn’t want to focus on panels, they wanted to look at spreads. This is something that’s on show throughout the book. Unfortunately, I don’t think the digital release can do it justice, this would be something viewed better in a physical copy.

As you can see, the artwork on display is absolutely stunning. It’s something that caught my attention straight away. Knowing Erica Henderson only from her work on Marvel’s Squirrel Girl, this is drastically different. Her Marvel work was very cartoony (not in the over the top way it is here); it also lacked detail and definition. Now the series that I know her from was about 5 years ago (2015) and I haven’t followed her art since, so she could have developed in the time that I haven’t been following her. I can however say that this style is so much more sophisticated, it also fits nicely with the story being told.

There are some very interesting choices that are made within the book. We never really get to see a good look at the Dracula figure. We see hands and fangs but he’s never fully realised as a humanoid. This I find an interesting take on the character, as it surrounds him in more mystery, making the figure that bit scarier. This after all is a psychedelic horror thriller book. So maintaining even more mystery with the character keeps both reader and the protagonists on edge.

The next thing I find interesting is not once in the 62 pages do they use the term “vampire”, and only twice is the word “Dracula” used. It’s used in quick succession so it can be easily forgotten. By limiting the uses of these words, you can craft a story that’s grounded in reality. Despite having this incredibly powerful supernatural being, we are shown how everyday people would react to situations like this. It makes it more real by not using those words, as we wouldn’t do that in everyday life. This increases the horror and suspense element of the story. Even reminds me of one of my favourite vampire films where they don’t use the word at all, Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow, 1988). By doing this the characters are constantly confused about what’s happening, as the logical conclusion just seems so... illogical.

Unfortunately there’s not much I can say about the story. Even though it’s not a sequel or a reboot. It’s still largely forgettable. The structure of the narrative is off in that it’s very fast paced. Everything happens so quickly you barely have time to contemplate the implications. The characters aren’t given enough depth to fully care about either. Quincy is quickly called a parasite and I couldn’t help but agree. He rushes to a murder scene to take pictures without any kind of thought to his actions. If I can’t care about a character from the first few pages then I have to say I can’t care about him if he’s in a life or death situation from that point on.

I wanted to enjoy this book as I do like vampire stories, but there not enough to it for me. The artwork by Erica Henderson is without a doubt the pulling power of this book. For that alone I’d say it’s worth getting, but regrettably the writing isn’t up to that standard. So for anyone who loves vampires, check it out but I don’t think it’s going to grab anyone else’s attention.

Dracula motherf*ker, the $15.99 graphic novel from Image Comics is out October 14th from your local comic shop as well as comixology

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