In an exclusive interview with Villain Media, writer/artist Ricardo Delgado talks about his upcoming illustrated novel, Dracula of Transylvania (Clover Press). Featuring more than 20 lavish illustrations and an introduction by Donald F. Glut, Dracula of Transylvania is now live on Kickstarter.
Plot: “The year is 1899. Young Solicitor Jonathan Harker braves ghosts, demons, living skeletons, and armies of rats—all of which pale in comparison to his encounters with Dracula of Transylvania, the Son of Satan. The demonic, shapeshifting vampire imposes his wrath, malice, and vengeance upon an England about to enter the Modern Era.”
With the Kickstarter campaign for Dracula of Transylvania live now, Ricardo Delgado opens up about creating his fully illustrated novel. Delgado opens up about reimagining vampires, tackling Bram Stoker’s classic novel, and the Kickstarter campaign. Check out the multiple tiers and rewards on the Kickstarter page as Delgado and I step into the artist’s studio and discuss the craft of making art.
Villain Media: Dracula has gone beyond literature and jumped into film, comics, and television. He has fought Wolverine, Batman, and even Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Is it a challenge to bring a different perspective into Bram Stoker’s creation?
Ricardo Delgado: Did not know Drac fought Wolverine! And I also remember one of the GIANT-SIZE annuals where Spider-man and Dracula were supposed to meet/fight! That was the late 1970’s and I remember being bitterly disappointed that in the comic that meeting or fight never happened. My take was never an issue simply because in my book we’d seen enough off the complex, romantic, and even perhaps an overwrought version of the character and that’s not what I wanted to do. My Dracula is a straight-up villain, a malevolent force to be reckoned with for the last nine centuries, a shadow over the European continent that kings and popes alike tremble with fear. I wanted a warlord, a conqueror, a ruthless barbarian posing as a royal, which he kinda is, at least in his mind, as the son of Satan.
Villain Media: The Kickstarter page mentioned Dracula of Transylvania “is footnoted throughout with historical facts.” What was it about the research for the project that interested you?
RD: Well, you start working on a period piece and along the way start to discover interesting tidbits of history, information that sometimes has everything to do with a story, other times nothing. So what do you do with that? Because the format of a prose novel is different from a script or a film, I decided to interject these bits of history throughout the novel in different ways. Lots of footnotes, as well as when the story changes locations, there’s a page or so explaining stuff that had to happen or was about to happen in history at that place. We don’t teach comparative history very well, and by that, I mean the leap in time between the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903 to the Moon landing is less than seventy years. And astonishing stuff like that just does not get explained very well. So I thought it would be fun that as we go along with this sprawling Victorian-era ghost story that we get a sense of history, a sense of place, a further understanding of the world around Wilhelmina Murray and Jonathan Harker.
VM: Tell me about diving into these historical locations, such as Paris’ Ossuaries and Rome’s Colosseum, for the narrative.
RD: They are interesting places, full of history, triumph, and tragedy. Did you know that the Eiffel Tower opened in 1889? Or that the Colosseum was almost taken apart brick by brick? Or that at one point during Roman history the Colosseum used to be filled with water and ships would have naval battles inside? So I decided to place my story among these marvelous, tragic places with some pretty fun results. This is not Dracula’s first journey through Europe, and his previous travels and their present ramifications are all part of this narrative.
VM: Tell me about the artwork within the Kickstarter page. You have illustrations of an undead Roman soldier, a beast with wings, and my favorite, a demon with a floating head.
RD: That’s all part of my effort to expand the supernatural world around Dracula for this story. Dracula does have an army of skeletons, the remnants of a Roman legion, and they do his bidding. Needless to say, I’m a big Jason and the Argonauts fan! And the latter two are demons, yes, and I wanted them to look like demons you’ve never seen before. So using my skills as a creature designer in the film industry, I created these unique concepts and wove them into my story, then designed them with the idea of placing the conceptual art within the book for readers to enjoy on another level.
VM: The Kickstarter campaign for Dracula of Transylvania has surpassed its initial goal of $10,000. Were there challenges or trepidations about doing the Kickstarter campaign during the pandemic?
RD: These are extraordinary times, without a doubt, yet I knew we had a good product. The campaign has gone well, extraordinarily so, and I’m happy and can certainly speak for Clover [Press] in the sense that they’re super happy as well. I did go into this early on with the idea of creating something different, and part of my pitch to Clover was the idea of an Art of Star Wars book combined with the prose novel-like Salem’s Lot, a book project that I had not seen before. I knew there was a market for something like this simply because this was a book that as a kid would have bought right then and there, sight unseen, like when I ran across the Empire Strikes Back Portfolio in a Waldenbooks as a youngster and thought, “Oh my God I have to have this, RIGHT NOW!” And while my humble effort is not in the same ballpark as that amazing product, you guys can take my meaning.
VM: How has Dracula of Transylvania changed you as a storyteller?
RD: It made me a better one in the sense that I had to stop thinking like I had written a script and that I could focus on a singular detail for as long as I wanted and make it as important as I wanted the detail to be. For example, there’s a ghost story in the middle of this ghost story. It takes place within a journal of one of the peripheral characters, and it’s one of the more important pieces in this story because it explains all the vampiric rules for the Nosferatu in my story. And the journal, or at least the portion that is used in the narrative, further explains the deeper narrative of Dracula’s quest, reveals the true nature of Renfield’s insanity, and tells its own ghost story. I’m really proud of it! Ao being able to flex my own storytelling muscles, or at least further develop them, was a big bowl of fun, as has been this interview. Thanks a bunch for having me!
The Dracula of Transylvania campaign is live now through March 25, 2021.