Hollywood concept artist and writer/illustrator of comic book Age of Reptiles, Ricardo Delgado has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a fully illustrated reimagining of Bram Stoker’s story, Dracula of Transylvania in hardback. The new edition will be published by Clover Press and has already smashed its initial goal and well on its way to reaching the $24,000 new stretch goal. You can read more about it here.
Delgado has worked as a storyboard artist and character designer for films including Apollo 13, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Incredibles, Men in Black, and Wall-e. And I got to talk with him about his new project! A big fan of Dracula and other gothic classics of the era, I was extremely interested in hearing more about this project and his artwork running through this new edition of a literary classic:
Olly MacNamee: The Gothic tradition is filled with the creepiest and most iconic creatures of the night, so why sink your teeth into Dracula with your new book Dracula of Transylvania, on Kickstarter now?
Ricardo Delgado: I just felt like the time was right for a new take, both in story and visually. And by new in the story sense I mean that while this novel does stick to the original Stoker novel in many ways, I decided to expand both the supernatural world as well as the scope of the chase back through Europe in the back half of the Stoker novel. That allows us to get to know Dracula and his world, his vampiric politics, his way of ruling and how those he rules react to him. All this plays out in Dracula of Transylvania.
OM: Unlike Bram Stoker’s original, you delve deeply into the mist of time with this one and flesh out Dracula’s backstory. And then some. What can you tell us about your take on this mysterious but monstrous bloodsucker?
RD: Dracula of Transylvania is Vader, Lector, Sauron and Thanos. Evil incarnate and omnipotent. A true badass. In this story he has legions of rats, living skeletons, ghosts and other vampires at his disposal. But they do his side work. This Dracula takes pleasure in conquering and killing. No mercy rule here. He’s a conqueror through history and Europe has trembled at his feet for almost a thousand years. He’s a taker, not a giver and certainly not a romantic. He’s a marauder.
OM: The figure of the vampire in Western literature is often load with symbolism. In Stoker’s novel, he can be read as a fear of the foreign, but also as a liberator of repressed Victorian females. Indeed, the vampire as sexual predator is quite a common trope to this day. Might your Dracula been dripping with such literary conceits that potential readers should be looking out for? What’s your own unique take on the Prince of Darkness going to be?
RD: Mina Murray and the other women in this story are integral. In my book they are smart, learned, skilled and fearless adventurers. The women in this story are fully-rounded characters, not just along for the ride. Mina carries around a Derringer and can handle herself, and then there’s the Brides of Dracula. They are fierce, strong predators that don’t give Dracula an inch and make Bellatrix Lestrange seem like a soccer mom. Don’t mess with the women in this story, they are smart, tough and ahead of their time! One of the elements of the story I’m super proud of, the women in Dracula of Transylvania. Well-crafted, all-around characters. At least I think so.
OM: I take it you’ve enjoyed illustrating this story as much as writing it? Being able to imagine your own version Dracula as well as build a world that stretched back through time must have been both a pleasure and a huge challenge too? In creating such Eastern European and ancient worlds where did you take your artistic lead from?
RD: Great question! Lots of places and artists, yet this has resulted in some of what I consider to be my best work in Conceptual Design. I created this lavish world in prose and furthered all that with characters, environments and ideas that correspond to the novel I wrote, and any good concept artist takes great pains to create something that has not been seen before, and I feel like I’ve done that. If you’re tired of all the old version and seek something fun, new and terrifying, this artwork’ll do it for you. Especially proud of the demons I’ve conceptualized for this story. If you’re a fan of all that stuff you’ll love all this. Many artists influenced me through time and for this project, but I knew how the landscape paintings of Atkinson Grimshaw made me feel or how the portraits of John Singer Sargent sometimes look supernatural to me. There’s even an allusion to Sargent in my book when the brides materialize in Whitby, where the observer sees them shimmer and their colors mix all over each other like a Singer portrait. There’s a red-hued portrait of a woman that Singer came up with and she looks just like a ghost. Beautiful and haunting at the same time.
OM: As for the Kickstarter campaign itself, what can you tell us about the various pledges one can select?
RD: Well, there’s many different levels and tiers for folks to purchase the story from and as a kid who had parents who worked hard but could not always afford everything, I’m really happy about that. There’s something for everyone here, from a casual reader to a collector who can buy a piece of my original art to go along with their book! Variety works in abundance here! One of the many reasons I’m excited about the project!
OM: And being released just in time for Universal Studios’ 90th anniversary of Dracula as played by Bela Lugosi. Hmmm, coincidence, or some dark and nefarious planning on your part, Ricardo?
RD: It just worked out that way. The book has been ready to go for a bit, it’s just tough to publish during the events of the past year, but now we’re ready to go and show some pretty damn cool stuff.
OM: Ricardo, “fangs” for your time, and all the best with the campaign.
RD: Cheers, man, it’s a ‘Vin/vin!” for us both, ha!