Graphic Tales” Reviews The Daughter of Dracula Revealed
by Lillian Hawkins [LilyHawk]
Today we are going on a gothic journey over the rolling hills and scenic views of Eastern Europe as we trek through the unexpectedly romantic tale of the Daughter of Dracula. Set during World War 1, Marya finds herself falling head over fangs in love with an accidental stranger. Who it turns out is none other than the handsome and oh so charming Baron Von Richthofen, better known as the infamous Red Baron.
At first glance it would seem unlikely these two would meet, much less fall in love. However, with the master writing skills of Ron Fortier and the exceptional drawing skills of artist Rob Davis, this dynamic duo bring this gothic love story to believable life with style and a lusty zeal.
This new graphic novel was a long time in the making, but worth the wait. I touched base with the creators about the history behind this epic tale, and I mean ALL the history. Let’s start at the beginning…
So Ron, tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been a writer?
[RON FORTIER] I am a 61 year old native of Somersworth, NH. I am married and have five children all adults now, and six grand children. I worked 31 years at a local GE plant which you might say was my day job, while at night I was a free-lance writer. I’ve been a published comic book writer for the past 35 years and have over 500 titles to my credit.
Daugther of Dracula
author Ron Fortier
(Author Ron Fortier)
What kind of things have you written?
I co-wrote three fantasy adventure novels with Texas based author Ardath Mayhar. The first two were published by TSR many years ago (Monkey Station & Trail of the Seahawks) whereas the last of these, Witchfire, was recently published by Cornerstone Books. I also wrote a three act play. It was a romantic comedy that told the true story of how my parents met and fell just prior to World War II. The play was produced four years ago by a small community theater group and very well received by audiences.
In the past two years I’ve begun writing brand new books starring old classic pulp heroes and have done three featuring a character called Captain Hazzard. The fourth, Cavemen of New York, will be published early in 2008. Meanwhile I maintain a website at http://www.Airship27.com, where I maintain a blog that gets updated every single Friday. This is where I post all my current activities.
How did you develop the story line for Daughter of Dracula?
The story behind how this graphic novel was created is all told in the back of the book itself, but I’m only too happy to repeat here.
I’m a big fan of the old Universal Classic Horror movies and one of my personal favorites was the 1934 sequel to Dracula called Dracula’s Daughter. The story behind this film is intriguing. After the success of Dracula, Universal very much wanted to follow it up with a sequel, but alas Bela Lugosi, who had been playing the character for many years on stage, was simply tired of it and refused to do another movie. Not wanting to lose out on what would be a guaranteed success, the writers at Universal then changed the focus of their proposed sequel on to an heir of the blood-sucking count, his beautiful daughter, Marya.
It is never once explained in the movie itself how it was Dracula, as a vampire, would have had a daughter. A plot hole I hope I cleverly resolved in our graphic novel. The film still entertains me to this day and most critics claim it is a far superior entry to its predecessor.
How did you come to choose Eastern Europe during World War I?
Over the years I often entertained the idea of doing something with the character, but never quite was able to come up with an appropriate background. When Universal began dusting off its old horror monsters with the new Mummy franchise, I was really impressed with how they both kept the tale in a 1930s setting but at the same time added a very Indiana Jones adventure flair to the tale. Now that was really fascinating and began opening up my own imagination. If I were to revive Marya, in what new kind of dramatic world could I set her?
Of my many interests, another is the flying aces of World War One, in particular Manfred von Richthofen, known as the Red Baron. One day, while surfing the net, I came across a biography of the man and instantly ideas began popping in my head. What if Marya came to Berlin during the war and had an affair with von Richthofen? The idea enflamed me right from the start and I knew it was the story I wanted to tell. I then proceeded to lay the facts of the Red Baron’s life historically, from his entry into the war to his death at the hands of an Australian soldier. With this established timeline, I then interwove the fictional story of his meeting and falling in love with Marya Dracula.
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How did you and Rob get connected on this project?
After having completed the 108 pg script, I sent it out to various comic publishers but with no luck. So it went on the shelves for nearly a full year collecting dust. Still, the more I would talk to people about the story, I kept getting the same reaction. It should be a movie! On a whim, I dusted off the comic script and using it as a guide, wrote a movie screenplay version. Now this I sent to a few people with Hollywood connections and they began showing it to various studios representatives. We did get a few nibbles of interest, but never anything concrete. Ironically several of my friends offered that we could probably have a better go at selling the screenplay if we had a graphic novel to show these movie people. Ha. The Catch-22.
Then, after two years, when I thought nothing would ever come of this, I accidentally hooked up with an old friend on-line, professional comic book artist, Rob Davis. Rob had worked for both Marvel and DC at one time, doing Star Trek titles for them. He’s a truly gifted graphic storyteller and both of us bemoaned the fact that we’d never had the opportunity to work together. On a gamble, I sent Rob the graphic novel script and asked him his opinion of it. I was pleasantly surprised when he responded saying he liked it a lot but his wife liked it ever more so. She totally zeroed in on the romantic core of this tale.
Can you tell me more about the artist Rob Davis?
Rob has been an artist since 1986 when he began illustrating role-playing game modules for Mayfair Games (DC Heroes role playing game) and Iron Crown Enterprises (Champions super-heroes role playing game) and has been a working professional artist/illustrator ever since.
His first “hit” comics work was on the Adult-oriented comic book Scimidar from Malibu Comics. He penciled and inked the historic fantasy character Merlin for Malibu. At about this same time Rob became associated with Innovation Comics’ Dave Campiti where with writers Michael Vance and R.A. Jones the Sci-Fi/Suspense Series Straw Men was published and also collaborated on a prequel to “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” called “Captain Nemo” at Rip Off Press.
Rob worked on Maze Agency (a critically acclaimed “Thin Man” type of Mystery -Detective series) for Innovation Comics, that lead to Quantum Leap (based on the popular Science Fiction television series)that in turn lead to DC Comics’ two Star Trek comic books (Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Star Trek with Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the original Enterprise Crew). He worked for Marvel Comics in Hanna Barbera’s Pirates Of Dark Water Saturday-morning cartoon sword and sorcery/fantasy adventure show. Then later returned to Malibu Comics and worked on Star Tek: Deep Space Nine for nearly three years doing Mini-Series and fill-in work.
(Artist Rob Davis)
Since then Rob has worked on various video game design projects and comics stories for Caliber (including Robyn of Sherwood #4 with writer Paul Storrie, and Legends of Camelot: Merlin with writer Jeff Limke), Sundragon comics, and Arrow Comics ( Camelot’s Last Knight with Jeff Limke). In addition, he has worked as a Graphic Designer on a wide variety of projects that include illustrating a number of prose novels (Brother Grim, and Hounds of Hell, the Captain Hazzard and Secret Agent “X” series’ all from Wildcat Books).
In addition to The Daughter of Dracula, we’re also collaborating on a weekly political cartoon called The Dubya Chronicles, Modernpulp.com and “Dr.Satan”, a 1930’s “pulp” fiction story!
How long did you work on this project?
Rob said he’d love to draw the project, but he simply did not have a much free time to devote to it. At best he could promise only one page a week. Doing the math was easy enough, at 108 pages, this would take him a little over two years to complete. Maybe other writes would have been put off by this, but after already investing two years on the writing, I was more than willing to ride it out longer if I could if I could get Rob on board. With Rob I was guaranteed beautiful artwork. And that is what he delivered, far my beyond my wildest expectations. Each week he would digitally show me a new page and each seemed to be better than the last one. As the weeks turned into months and then years, I realized Rob Davis was creating the masterpiece of his art career. Early this year he turned in page 108 and the book, a four year journey for me, was finished!!
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Who is the publisher?
I tried to interest publishers in taking this on. Alas, although we were given glowing remarks at the beauty of our book, we simply could not find a publisher willing to take it on. Perhaps it was the adult nature of the story, it is sexually explicit and there is of course violence and blood-letting aplenty. Kind of hard to tell a vampire story any other way. In the end, having faith in what we had achieved here, Rob and I chose to self-publish DAUGHTER OF DRACULA.
Who did the cover art and what was the inspiration?
I had worked with cover painter, Mark Maddox, in the past as he had done one of my recent pulp novel covers. In thinking about what image I wanted on the book, I kept coming back to the idea of depicting blatant eroticism with an icon of the period. Sex sells. But I didn’t want just another “bad girl” pin-up. The Blue Max was the medal awarded the Red Baron. Hmm, what if that were seen hanging over the ample bosom of a vampire damsel?
I wrote Mark and explained my idea, to include the fact we would not reveal complete face. To do so would have humanized her and I want something primal. Showing her bosom and teeth above her red lips would do that. At first Mark thought I was crazy and almost refused to do the painting, but in the end we compromised. He did a complete painting, with face and all, but then cropped it for our use. He will eventually be offering prints of the entire painting. Still, after seeing our cover, he finally admitted to me I was right to have it done this way.
The book was printed two weeks ago at Ka-Blam, an internet on-demand publisher, and is now available for sale at there Indy Planet store site. Already friend and family who have been aware of our efforts these past few years are eagerly coming forth to get their hands on this book and we are sitting on pins and needles awaiting their feedback.
Four years of my life, two of Rob’s. Was it worth it? I leave it to you to tell us.