Review – Dracula: A Symphony in Moonlight and Nightmares

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Jon J. Muth, one of my favorite artists, takes a shot at capturing the tone of the Dracula novel in a 48-page graphic novel. As you can well imagine, this isn’t a straight-up adaptation, not even an abridged one. It’s more of a “reimagining,” with liberties taken with characters and plot. And actually, it’s not exactly accurate to describe it as a graphic novel, as the presentation is more of a collage of writing and art. But most of the story elements are there, and the gothic tone is richly captured by Muth’s artwork.

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The story is told through various devices: excerpts of ship logs, diaries, traditional prose, conversations, and even a movie script. The evocative artwork, beautifully painted in watercolor as always by Muth, is sometimes in the form of a full page illustration, other times as a collage, or even pseudo comic book sequentials. The overall effect is a wholly unique book that is light on narrative, but heavy on atmosphere and emotion, which I found befitting the material. If you’re a die-hard fan of the Bram Stoker novel and don’t like reinterpretations, you may want to skip this book. But if you’d like to see a consummate professional flex not just his artistic skills, but his writing and design muscles as well, or are just a fan of Muth in general, this is a great book to track down. It’s a quick read, but you can spend hours looking over the beautiful artwork. I found it to be a worthy experiment from a fantastic artist, and would definitely recommend it.

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Originally published in 1988 by Marvel Comics (#26 in their line of oversized graphic novels), Muth’s Dracula was was later reprinted by NBM in 1993 and is easy to find.

(This post first appeared on my Ferret Press blog September 5th, 2011)