Alex de Campi and Erica Henderson bring us a bite-sized morsel of psychedelic Stoker set in the 1970s with Dracula, Motherf*cker! from Image Comics.
Vampire fans, rejoice! If you’re tired of sleepy new adaptations and reimaginings of Bram Stoker’s original novel and those sexy bloodsuckers that sparkle, then you’re in for a treat with Alex de Campi and Erica Henerson’s Dracula, Motherf*cker!
Dracula is undead and well and spending his nights in the City of Angels and eternal youth, and he’s in search of new brides for his coterie. Crime scene photographer Quincy Harker has stumbled upon some strange new murders plaguing Los Angeles, one in particular pertaining to an aging Hollywood starlet, and it all points to some nefarious dealings with the undead. But the ages old Prince of Darkness is not the only one who’s taking the new world by storm. Dracula’s former brides are on the hunt for their ex-husband, and when they find him, their reunion promises to be epic and deadly.
De Campi and Henderson certainly bring on the funk, sexiness, and attitude, which results in this graphic novel being a homage to the black action films that were all the rage during the 1970s. But Henderson’s artwork also gives readers beautiful, hallucinatory imagery, particularly when we are in the presence of Dracula himself.
Now, let’s talk about Dracula, shall we? Perhaps the most intriguing and noteworthy element of Dracula, Motherf*cker! is de Campi and Henderson’s depiction of the Lord of Darkness himself. Dracula does not appear to be a living (or rather, unliving) creature of the night, but rather a presence, like a dark being out of a Miyazaki film that didn’t make the cut because he scared the sh•t out of the children. (This is a good thing!) This vision of Dracula is also somewhat reminiscent of Scott Snyder and Dustin Nyugen’s interpretation of Dracula in American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares , in which our antagonist was more a feeling than the physical embodiment of evil.
Amid all of my praise for Dracula, Motherf*cker! , the graphic novel does come with its own shortcomings. The story itself is very brief, with only 58 pages of content from first stake to final bite and not much dialog, which makes the story pass us by even more quickly. As an unfortunate result, there isn’t much room for character development. Harker is little more than a stereotypical nightcrawler like the one depicted in the film with Jake Gyllenhaal, minus the character arc. Dracula’s ex-brides are badass, sure, but without taking the proper time to develop them into something more dynamic and complex, they feel like a trite trio of disgruntled ex-wives, their bloodlust flat, and the revenge they seek to thrust upon their creator and former master quite hollow.
But when all’s said and done, Dracula, Motherf*cker! is nonetheless a vampire tale more original than most, and it is a graphic novel that warrants serious attention by any fan of the undead, if only for Henderson’s captivating artwork and an vision of Dracula that will live on in your nightmares for years to come.
Alex de Campi (W), Erica Henderson (A) • Image Comics, $16.99
Review by John T. Trigonis