Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the graphic novelization of the virtuosic Francis Ford Coppola film adaption by the same name. A tale as old as time of transcendental terror and tragic temptation, resurrected by legendary comic titan, Roy Thomas, and reimagined through the eyes of the Hellboy visionary, Mike Mignola.
For those unfamiliar with the story, it’s like Bridget Jones’ Diary but with vampires. Yeah, I said it. Who is Mina gonna hook up with in the end?
First and foremost, and I cannot stress this enough, Mike Mignola was born to adapt Bram Stoker’s Dracula, especially the Coppola film. When rewatching the film in preparation for the graphic novelization, it was as if I was experiencing an inverse adaption. As if Coppola had brought Mignola’s artwork to life on the big screen in an alternate but believable reality. This was before I had even opened the novel.
Much of the beauty and brilliance of the film stems from the paranormal performance from Gary Oldman as Count Dracula. While the art ironically mirrors his likeness – as well as the other members of the cast, the subtleties and tension of his scenes are lost when confined to the stoic panels of a comic book.
Nyberg and Chiarello’s use of colour and shadows differs from Coppola’s film slightly but takes the setting to surprisingly familiar places. Where the film is dynamic and subtle in its use of lighting and colour, the graphic novel goes all out with bright and vibrant colours – especially the prime colours of blue, red and yellow, mixed with enclosing shrouds of darkness. Harkening back to the classic Hammer House of Horror films.
It goes without saying that with a graphic novelisation of a film, the story will be drastically condensed so to balance the adaption with consistency and engagement, and rightly so; quality over quantity. That being said, with this adaption there are both pros and cons to that structure.
Some notable quotables have been omitted from the dialogue like the fan favourite line “bloody wolves chasing me through some blue inferno!”. This however, is for good reason. Worse than Keanu’s delivery is the blue inferno effect itself so it makes sense to extinguish that flame.
Conversely on the other hand, several alterations have been made to iconic lines. Most notably, “I never drink…wine.” has been replaced with the original novel’s “I do not sup.”. Kudos are in order for subverting the expectation while maintaining integrity, but it just doesn’t have the same finesse.
Narratively, the passage of time is noticeably thinner than the film. A maddening month in Castle Dracula in this case feels more like a weekend whirlwind that is over before it even starts. Some more time building tension between Harker & Dracula would serve the retelling well as it is the unbeating heart of the bloodsucker bible.
The graphic novel is the obedient familiar Renfield to the masterful Dracula film adaption. A truly inspired and faithful work of art. Any issues I have with the novel are more nitpicky than damning critiques and said nitpicks come off as artistic choices as opposed to objective mistakes.
You can see the seeds of this adaption in Mignola’s Hellboy: Blood & Iron, an animated film featuring the real-life Blood Countess, Elizabeth Bathory. I half expected Hellboy to show up here and I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Unquestionably, a treasured piece of fiction for fans of the Coppola film as well as the artwork and writing of Mike Mignola and Roy Thomas that is sure to quench a thirsty bloodlust!
Let us know in the comments your thoughts on the graphic novelisation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, your favourite vampire films and if you ever drink…wine.
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