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Vampires Suck

Stoker's Dracula

(Your blood, that is.)  How does one even begin to write about vampires with any sort of completeness?  Every culture’s got one – some version of a creature that rises from the dead and preys on the life force of the living (either the blood or something more abstract, such as energy or the soul) to sustain itself.  Reflecting this, Dracula and his brethren abound on the shelves of Special Collections – particularly our comics collection where the dramatic nature of the vampire lends itself perfectly to a graphic medium.

While vampires have been around for ages, it was Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula that made them much more prevalent in literature and popular culture.  In more modern times, vampires’ popularity has spiked again with television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and bestselling book series like Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, and the Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlene Harris.

Let’s start with Dracula then, shall we?

Stoker's DraculaStoker's Dracula Stoker's Dracula

This 2004 adaption of Stoker’s Dracula presents the comic in a dramatic black and white contrast that plays up the drama of the story.

Blood of Dracula

Another series featuring the Count is Apple Comics’s Blood of Dracula, where each issue contains an installment of three different stories featuring Dracula in his own time, in the future, and anywhere in between.  This issue even comes with a record of songs composed to supplement the stories!Blood of Dracula RecordNot to be outdone, Warp Graphics (which later turned over most of its titles to Apple Comics) pitted Dracula against Jack the Ripper in its 1986 mini-series Blood of the Innocent.

Blood of the Innocent

In addition to its large spread in comics, the story of Dracula has also been taken to the stage over the years, as seen in these scenes from a 1978 production of Dracula starring Frank Langella as the titular feind and famous illustrator Edward Gorey designing the scenery and costumes. Dracula

Stoker wasn’t the only one to write about vampires, though.  Folk stories teemed with different versions of the vampire.  This image from a book of Russian folk tales shows the warlock from the tale “The Soldier and The Vampire” who comes back from the dead each night to terrorize a town by cursing a newlywed couple and drawing their blood until he is outwitted and killed by a clever soldier.

The Soldier and The Vampire

In modern vampire culture, many vampires choose to live among us and forgo the drinking of human blood for that of animals.  Two such “vegetarian” vampires are main characters in Vertigo’s series Blood + Water.  Adam Heller, a man slowly dying of AIDS finds out his friends are actually vampires when they turn him into one to cure him and save his life.

Blood + Water

Men aren’t the only ones to play large roles in vampire stories.  Vampirella, the vampire superheroine from the planet Drakulon, fights evil vampires on our world in an effort to save her own.  She appears in a number of comic series and a direct to video movie.
Vampirella Classic #1

Vampirella Classic #3

Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series was adapted by Marvel in 2006.  The leading lady, Anita Blake, lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri as a professional zombie raiser, vampire hunter, and consultant for the police’s supernatural department.

Anita Blake #3 Anita Blake Anita Blake #1

Including the scores of other stories both modern and old as Dracula himself, it’s clear that no matter what way you slice it, vampires have a powerful prescence in cultures throughout the world.  So this Halloween if you’re finding yourself going batty for vampires, come see us at Special Collections.  We’ve got plenty of vampire stories you can really sink your teeth into.

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Posted in Comic Collection

Bats, Rats, and Spiders

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Oh my!

Throughout October the Fantastic Beasts series will be taking a turn for the creepy as each week in October we feature spooky creatures and things that go bump in the night.  For the first week we'll start with some of the tamer creepy-crawlies that lots of us see on a daily basis: bats, rats, and spiders.  Each of these are commonly featured in tales of terror, and are associated with death, disease, or mystery, among other things.  They can also serve as familiars to witches and sorcerors, which is where they picked up a lot of their negative associations.  Truth is, many of these fears are largely unfounded, as bats, rats, and spiders are important parts of any ecosystem and for the most part are either scared of or not a threat to humans.  Giant versions of any of these (such as those pictured below) are, of course, another matter entirely.

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bats3  rats1rats2rats3spiders1spiders2

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Posted in Special Collections

Special Collections at the Movies: Guardians of the Galaxy

At Special Collections, we believe a part of our job to be informing patrons on subject matters they may be unfamiliar with. Whether those subjects are found in books from the Middle Ages, newspapers dating back to the American Revolution, or underground comics, we’re always here to give you the scoop on things you didn’t know you didn’t know. But chances are an upcoming summer blockbuster might have you wondering, “Who are the Guardians of the Galaxy and why should I see the movie?” Special Collections is here for you, dear reader!

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Opening in theaters this weekend is Marvel’s newest superhero flick, “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Staring Chris Pratt of “Parks and Recreation” fame, along with a handful of other well-known actors (Glenn Close, John C. Reilly and Bradley Cooper, just to name a few), “Guardians” promises to be a comic book movie unlike any we’ve seen before. And just like any good superhero movie, it never hurts to have a little backstory. Though Special Collections doesn’t have any stand-alone Guardians comics, we do have several Marvel Comics encyclopedias and compendiums, along with several issues of “Avengers” comics (like the ones you see in this post), which take place in the same universe as the Guardians. If you want the full, detailed history of the Guardians of the Galaxy, stop on by and request a book. If you just want the Cliffs Notes version, read on! 

The original incarnation of the space-travelling team debuted in January, 1969. This group of Guardians never found much of a fan following, and the team was relegated to appearing alongside other heroes, like Thor and the Fantastic Four. This team shouldn’t factor in all that much with the “Guardians” film.

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However, in 2008, an entirely new team of Guardians was introduced. Made up of a human named Peter Quill, two aliens – Drax and Gamora – and two personified creatures – Rocket, a talking raccoon and Groot, a living tree – these Guardians found instant commercial success. A feature film set within Marvel’s Cinematic Universe was fast-tracked into production.

This weekend, that movie is released. It will tie in with events that happened in “The Avengers”, and set up future events for “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”, Avengers 3 and beyond. Either before or after you check out the movie, stop on by and see us too!

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Posted in Comic Collection
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