October is finally here! It’s arguably my favorite month of the year. I love everything about it. The cool Autumn air, the orange leaves, the tasty pumpkin-flavored treats, and of course, Halloween. When I started this website a decade ago, one of the things I enjoyed discussing was my love for comic books. For whatever reason, as time went on, the subject of comics was placed on back burner. Recently, I’ve been meaning to make more comic related posts. So, with that in mind, and with Halloween just around the corner, I want to discuss one of my favorite retro comics; Vampirella.
When I say retro, I mean it. The first issue of Vampirella was printed by Warren Publishing back in 1969. The original series was in print until Warren Publishing went out of business in 1983. The book was originally conceived as a sci-fi/horror-themed magazine featuring a variety of strange tales. Each story was introduced by the character of Vampirella (a sexy alien vampire). Even though each month would contain a handful of unrelated stories, every issue featured at least one chapter starring Vampirella herself. In many ways, the publication was similar to other Warren comics (ie: Creepy and Eerie). The big difference this time around was a focus on female lead characters.
It would be impossible for me to chronicle all of the various strange and spooky stories scattered throughout the entire Vampirella run. So, I won’t even attempt to do so. But, rest assured there are plenty of really good gems to be unearthed if you are willing to do some digging. (Admittedly, there’s also quite a few stinkers as well). However, as you might expect, the character of Vampirella and her main story arc proved to be the big draw for most readers.
Vampirella’s origin story goes something like this; Vampirella is a female from the distant planet of Drakulon. On Vampirella’s planet, oceans and rivers are all filled with blood instead of water. As a result, the people of that world drink blood instead of water to survive. At the time the story begins, there is an endless drought on Drakulon. One day, a space shuttle from Earth visits Drakulon. In hopes of finding salvation for her people, Vampirella accompanies the human astronaut back to Earth. However, once she arrives, she finds herself stranded and must fight her impulse to drink the blood of every person she encounters.
This was the story of Vampirella as it was originally invented. Of course, as time went on, certain changes and retcons were made and the overall character of Vampirella was fleshed-out and refined a great deal.
It’s important to note that ownership of the Vampirella intellectual property has changed multiple times over the decades. Every time the IP has changed hands, certain changes to both the format of the comic and the story surrounding the character have been made. For example, Vampirella was originally published in black and white. Later publishing companies printed the comics in color. Also, the comic eventually shifted from being a collection of unrelated stories and ultimately became a monthly serial focused solely on Vampirella herself.
I first encountered the book back when I was around thirteen years old. It was a 70’s era issue. In fact, it’s the issue featured at the top of this article. From the moment I opened the book I was enthralled. I found the black and white artwork appealing. Both the art and the contents of the book reminded me of watching old horror movies. It provided that same creepy thrill. On top of that, Vampirella herself was sexy and alluring. Needless to say, I wanted to read more. That’s when I learned that the comic was no longer in print. Back then, finding back issues was nearly impossible for someone my age. So, for several years, that one single issue was all I had. Eventually, I was reintroduced to Vampirella when Harris Comics took ownership of the character and I’ve remained a fan ever since.
These days, the old Warren Publishing run has been collected and reprinted multiple times. If you’re curious about these classic stories, it’s fairly easy to get your hands on them now. Many people tend to skip over these early Vampirella tales and instead focus their attention on later volumes by either Harris Publishing or Dynamite Entertainment. Those runs are great. But there’s just something about the old 70’s and 80’s pulp stories that simply can’t be beat. These days, everything is a rehash in one way or another. But these original stories were products of the writers’ unspoiled imaginations and proved to be really cutting edge stuff. If you’ve never acquainted yourself with the character, I urge you to do so. These classic Vampirella tales make for the perfect reading material on crisp October nights like these.
You can find these classic tales in a variety of collections. But I’ve linked to my personal favorite below: