New English Library are best known as the publishers of magnificent pulp fiction – from James Herbert to Guy N. Smith to the Skinhead novels and beyond. But in 1972, they branched out into magazine publishing, with the fascinating Dracula, which ran for twelve issues.
Dracula was unlike any other British comic of the time. For a start, at 13p for a 24-page comic, it was vastly more expensive than everything else on the market – prices tended to range from 3p to 5p back then for Marvel and IPC comics, which had considerably more pages. However, Dracula was a larger format than the standard comic book, and printed in full colour on glossy paper. It was also clearly aimed at more mature readers than Shiver and Shake.
Featuring translated reprints of Spanish comic strips by the likes of Estaban Moroto, Jose Bea and ASlberto Solsana, Dracula was notable for not actually featuring Dracula as a character. Indeed, most of the strips included were not even horror tales. As a generic title, Dracula was an interesting choice (and Dracula as a character was possibly at the peak of his popularity in the early Seventies), but probably didn’t help sales, as horror fans felt cheated (certainly, I did when I found a copy several years later) and the people more likely to read the psychedelic science fiction and fantasy stories like Wolff and Agar-Agar probably didn’t pick it up. This, the high cost and the fact that it was several years ahead of its time is probably why it only lasted for twelve issues. A pity, as in retrospect, this is a great attempt to lift the comic book out of the juvenile racks, and has some fantastic material.
NEL published a compendium book featuring the whole run in 1972, while Warren Publishing produced a book featuring the first six issues. The latter is available to enjoy for free. Check it out below. We’d love to see this whole collection reprinted.
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