Dracula: A Symphony in Moonlight and Nightmares

Dracula: A Symphony (Marvel)

By John J Muth (NBM)
ISBN: 1-56163-059-4 (also Marvel Graphic Novel #25; ISBN: 0-87135-171-4)

As part of an adventurous foray into the budding world of graphic albums, the Marvel Graphic Novel line combined experimental projects and storytelling alongside glorified giant comic-books. This trés arty package from illustrator Muth purloins elements of Bram Stoker’s classic novel and reweaves them as framework for a painting tour-de-force of gothic set-pieces and moving, intimate images.

Familiarity with the original’s plot is not essential – if not ill-advised – as mood rather than narrative is favoured here, and the pictures are paramount. Inexplicably, Muth’s narrative mixes first hand accounts from protagonists Lucy Seward and her father, prose and “newspaper excerpts”, with faux film-script pages in this dark tale of bloody obsession.

Dracula: A Symphony (NBM)

For all these problems, it was picked up by Nantier Beall Minoustchine in 1992 and re-issued as a gloriously large and upscale hardcover album (and eventually a paperback edition) which particularly enhanced the extended sections where Muth’s paintings were allowed to carry the story without the distraction of text.

Although this is so much more “Graphic” than “Novel” and not as clever as it seems – all beautiful surface with no depth at all – it is staggeringly pretty, and a delight for any fan with an appreciation of the visual arts.

© 1986, 1992 John J Muth. All Rights Reserved.