Tomb of Dracula Marvel Comic Book Series- When It Was Cool Remembers the Macabre Series featuring the Lord of the Vampires

By: Karl Stern

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Even now I look back at The Tomb of Dracula Marvel comic book series from the 1970s and wonder what I, as no more than an eight year old kid, was doing buying this comic book.  It featured dark and heavy themes and was far more adult oriented than other mainstream Marvel Comic books of that era. The Tomb of Dracula was published by Marvel Comics from April 1972 to August 1979.  It ran for seventy issues and featured a group of vampire hunters who battled Dracula, the Lord of the Vampires, and other supernatural monsters including Dracula’s daughter Lilith later in the series.  Dracula even sometimes served as a super villain for other hero characters in the Marvel Universe like Dr. Strange and even the Silver Surfer.  The series also introduced the cult favorite Blade- the Vampire Hunter.

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In 1971, the year I was born incidentally, the Comics Code Authority relaxed some of it's rules regarding horror comics, including the ban on vampires.  Dracula was chosen to lead a solo series partially because he was the most famous vampire to the general public but also due to the Bram Stoker created character now being in the public domain.

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Gerry Conway is credited as sole writer of issue 1 of The Tomb of Dracula but the plot was actually written by Roy Thomas and editor Stan Lee and Conway had no input into the issue until it had already been fully illustrated. Conway plotted issue two himself and wrote a story heavily influenced by the British Hammer horror films.

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Gerry Conway quit The Tomb of Dracula and was replaced by Archie Goodwin with issue three. Goodwin quit after two issues but made major changes to the series direction including the introduction of cast members Rachel Van Helsing and Taj Nital. 

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New writer Gardner Fox took The Tomb of Dracula in yet another direction, and introduced a romance between Frank Drake and Rachel Van Helsing, which would remain a subplot for the rest of the series.  Gardner Fox also only lasted two issues on the series.

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Marv Wolfman became the scripter with issue 7 and brought the series some much needed stability.  The entire The Tomb of Dracula series was penciled by Gene Colan, with Tom Palmer inking all but issues one and two, and issues eight through eleven. Gil Kane drew many of the covers. Colan based the visual appearance of Marvel's Dracula not on Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, or any other actor who had played the vampire on film, but rather on actor Jack Palance.

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Dracula also encountered another classic monster turned Marvel Comics character- Werewolf by Night in a crossover story beginning in The Tomb of Dracula 18 (March 1974) and continuing the same month in Werewolf by Night 15 with both chapters written by Wolfman.

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Dracula also met other Marvel Universe heroes and villains including Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, and Doctor StrangeThe Tomb of Dracula ran for 70 issues, until August 1979.

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