October 9, 2010

Ye Olde School Cafe’: Essential Tomb of Dracula vol. 1 pt 1

Hey everybody, welcome to the best place for your Halloween horror fix! In this week’s edition of Ye Olde School Cafe’, we’ll be diving into the greatest horror comic of all-time – The Tomb of Dracula! This is my favorite comic of all-time to be quite honest, and I can’t think of anything else that I’ve ever read that ever kept my interest, or have read as many times. I own the Essential series for a couple of reasons. First, I couldn’t afford to buy this entire run in my wildest dreams. Secondly, I do like Tpb’s (Trade Paperback) for how easily it is to read through that many issues continuously without the constant opening of bagged & boarded individual books. The series started out with a few different writers (Conway, Goodwin, Fox), but it really hit gold when Marv Wolfman took over the duties in issue seven. The entire run was penciled by the legendary Gene Colan.

The first thing you see is two headlights cutting through a foggy, rainy night. The car is driven by Frank Drake, and his girlfriend, Jeanie, and a man named Clifton Graves are the passengers. As the car speeds down a windy road, it eventually spins out of control and slams into a ditch. The occupants get out and walk into the town from that point. They make their way to The Barons Inn, and ask for a man named Burgeister. The man welcomes Frank and his friends to Transylvania! Frank is there for a reason; he has inherited a piece of land, and a residence called Castle Dracula! You see, Frank is a distant relative of the infamous Count himself, and is the only living relative at that.

Within a few minutes, Frank and the others board a carriage and make their way towards the castle. The carriage driver will only go so far though, then tells them he’s not a fool and they must go the rest of the way on foot. While Frank is deep in thought, Clifton tells Jeanie that they can “make up” with Frank in a daze. She tells Clifton it’s been over for months and to leave it alone. Meanwhile, Frank drifts back to recent times and how he blew the fortune that was left to him by his father. He also recalls being friends with Clifton and the two getting the idea that they could use the castle as a tourist attraction to make big bucks. The two then headed to Transylvania with nothing to lose, or so they thought.

Once they are in sight of the castle, it takes them a moment to compose themselves from the sheer evil they feel emanating from it. They make their way inside and start to look around. It doesn’t take long before a swarm of bats attacks them. After that ordeal, Clifton separates from Frank and Jeanie to do some searching on his own. As he enters a certain hallway, the floor gives way and he plunges to a lower level. As he makes his way even lower into the castle, Clifton starts to think they’ve hit it big with the tourist attraction idea. He really gets pumped up when he sees a coffin in the lowest chamber that reads – Count Dracula! With gun in hand, he opens it up slowly, then sees the remains of the Count himself. The stake still sits in the same position it was left in by Abraham van Helsing many years before. Clifton then makes the biggest mistake of his life by pulling the stake out of the corpse. Immediately, you see flesh and blood returning and the count becoming the living dead again. Clifton didn’t think anything would happen, so he turned his back to the coffin. Much to his surprise, he hears a rustling behind him and turns to face the most sinister being that has ever existed. Clifton tries to use his gun, but Dracula laughs it off. Clifton then gets smacked for his foolishness. Dracula doesn’t want a struggle, so he opens up some kind of pit, then tosses Clifton down the hole.

Dracula uses his extraordinary senses to hear voices above, then swiftly changes into a bat and flies upstairs. He runs into Frank and Jeanie, who are amazed at what they see. Dracula then uses his powers of persuasion on Jeanie and she moves towards Dracula, even after Frank tells her to stay back. She won’t listen to reason, so Frank uses his strong pimp hand to slap some sense into her. She falls to the floor, but then Dracula advances on them. Just as he is about to reach them both, Frank pulls out Jeanie’s silver compact to keep Dracula at bay. Dracula then tells Frank that he won’t be tricked again, then flies out of an open window. Dracula then finds a victim nearby to replenish his powers with her blood. Within minutes, the woman’s body is found drained of blood, and the villagers know what that can only mean.

Dracula then returns to his castle to pay Frank back for the earlier defeat. Frank is ready though, and has put a crucifix around Jeanie’s neck to ward him off. Dracula backs up from the sight of the holy symbol, but Frank reveals some silver and then a mirror to try and stop the Count. He has him right where he wants him, but then Dracula goads him into throwing the silver at him, leaving himself defenseless. Dracula starts to thrash Drake when Jeanie wakes up from all the commotion. Dracula engages her eyes and commands her to toss the crucifix away. She’s so entranced by him, that she throws the crucifix out the window. Frank’s head is still ringing from the beating Dracula gave him, but he has enough awareness to grab the silver again to try and take Dracula by surprise. He does, but Dracula then turns into a bat and flees. The villagers have gathered around the castle and begin to light it on fire. Frank then picks up Jeanie and heads for the exit. As Dracula flies away, Frank turns to Jeanie and thinks her dead from her lack of movement. He soon realizes that she’s been turned into one of Dracula’s legion of the living dead. She turns into a bat and flies off, while Frank is left sobbing over the loss of his friend and lover.

Stay tuned for next week as I’ll move at a much faster pace and whip through a few issues in one column. Come back to learn the fate of Clifton Graves, Jeanie, and Frank Drake in…”Who Stole My Coffin?”

Billy Dunleavy



  1. Gene Colan = Greatness!

  2. Billy

    @Speech- Absolutely…+ 1 Wolfman as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Website Protected by Spam Master