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Thread: Vampirella #38

  1. #1
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    Default Vampirella #38

    Well, at least they didn't "permanently" kill her off like those losers at Harris.

    This may be the end of Vampirella as a viable commercial product. We can argue forever about the virtues of the Warren vs. Harris version, but the truth is, the Warren Vampi had the backing of Jim Warren's publishing empire, and was very successful at first. It's easy to put money into a successful venture. Where is the next Jim Warren for Vampirella? One hope would be for Dynamite to "rest" a little (at least a year hiatus on ALL Vampi publications) and then find a writer who remembers the old days (not many of those left) who could sketch-out a new path far removed from the last twenty years, then launch it with an A-list team and a lot of fanfare.

    I have wavered in the last few years with my resolute belief in the superiority of the Warren Vampi. My fear has been that she was a creature of the late '60s and early '70s, and that today's audience could not relate. After reading the drivel of #38, however, I feel more strongly than ever that the elements of the original Vampirella: strong supporting cast, alien heritage, romantic, (comparatively) realistic stories, continuity and consistency, and vulnerable nature, are all the elements of great storytelling. Whether she could ever be taken as seriously again, given two decades of being a "bad girl," is doubtful. However, as I like to say, "there are no new stories, only new readers."

    "Make it real and it writes itself." -- Sam Hamm

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    Quote Originally Posted by rlvaugh View Post
    Well, at least they didn't "permanently" kill her off like those losers at Harris.

    This may be the end of Vampirella as a viable commercial product. We can argue forever about the virtues of the Warren vs. Harris version, but the truth is, the Warren Vampi had the backing of Jim Warren's publishing empire, and was very successful at first. It's easy to put money into a successful venture. Where is the next Jim Warren for Vampirella? One hope would be for Dynamite to "rest" a little (at least a year hiatus on ALL Vampi publications) and then find a writer who remembers the old days (not many of those left) who could sketch-out a new path far removed from the last twenty years, then launch it with an A-list team and a lot of fanfare.

    I have wavered in the last few years with my resolute belief in the superiority of the Warren Vampi. My fear has been that she was a creature of the late '60s and early '70s, and that today's audience could not relate. After reading the drivel of #38, however, I feel more strongly than ever that the elements of the original Vampirella: strong supporting cast, alien heritage, romantic, (comparatively) realistic stories, continuity and consistency, and vulnerable nature, are all the elements of great storytelling. Whether she could ever be taken as seriously again, given two decades of being a "bad girl," is doubtful. However, as I like to say, "there are no new stories, only new readers."

    "Make it real and it writes itself." -- Sam Hamm
    Well, of course when you're talking about "the original Vampirella", you're talking about Archie Goodwin's Vampirella, which didn't actually begin until issue No. 8 of the Warren series. It was Goodwin who introduced the characters of Conrad and Adam Van Helsing, and washed-up magician Pendragon, and set Vampi against the Cult of Chaos. Jim Warren had considered the campy Vampi written by Forrest J Ackerman, as presented in issues No. 1 & 2, so disastrous a misfire that she didn't appear again at all (except in the role of horror hostess, introducing stories in a similar fashion to Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie) in issues 3 through 7. In fact, she was temporarily displaced as a series character by her "cousin" Evily, a witch (never mind how Vampirella could have a witch for a cousin if she was the last survivor of Drakulon), but Evily didn't catch on either, only appearing in 2 stories. Both Warren and Ackerman seem to agree that Vampirella was "inspired" by Jean-Claude Forest's Barbarella (specifically, Roger Vadim's movie version), but less commented on is the fact that Ackerman's sci-fi origin story borrows heavily from the plot of the American-International film Queen of Blood (1966), about a sexy space vampiress. Even after Goodwin's refocusing of Vampi's own series as true horror, Warren was never really happy with Tom Sutton's artistic interpretation of Vampi. It was only due to a fortuitous unannounced visit by the head of a Spanish artists' agency that Vampirella enjoyed the success that she did in the 1970s, beginning with artist Jose Gonzales' interpretation of the character in issue No. 12. Vampirella then went on, thanks to the infusion of a handful of talented Spanish artists and the magazine's focus on stories featuring sexy women (in addition to Vampi herself), to become the best-selling of Warren's small line of magazines. But when Vampirella was first launched in 1969, Warren's entire line had experienced a downturn in sales (I think he'd just switched distributors because his old one went out of business). So Vampirella was a huge gamble on his part at the time, and one that almost didn't work.

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    Last edited by pulphero; 02-08-2014 at 04:25 PM.

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    I would like a more scifi take similar to Kevin Lau's, Vampi.

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    Thanks, Pulphero, that was interesting. I have read stories that Warren and some others thought up the "mod witch" idea that led to Vampirella in a Lear jet in a lightning storm over Brazil. Do you know anything about that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rlvaugh View Post
    Well, at least they didn't "permanently" kill her off like those losers at Harris.
    Yup, for the improbable event they want to relaunch her again
    Out not with a bang, but with a whimper...

    It's not that Harris or Dynamite didn't have good ideas (let alone good writers);
    but they tended to ruin even the best idea by half-hearted execution.
    And (did someone call Captain Obvious?) Vampirella belongs into the '60s.
    Any attempt to change that will invariably change the character, alienate
    the (very ) old fans and let the new ones yawn. (They have enough
    true-2000 postmodernist characters to choose.)

    Hey, Dynamite, how many $$$ will buying the rights to the character cost,
    just for the case I win the lottery?

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    The '70s, not the '60s. It's true that the first issue of the Warren series was published in 1969, but the version of Vampirella everyone remembers is the one begun by Archie Goodwin in issue #8, with the cast of characters that included old blind vampire hunter Conrad Van Helsing, his young and handsome son Adam, and the alcoholic carnival magician (who actually knows some real magic) Pendragon; Goodwin introduced Vampi's most perennial foes, the Cult of Chaos, and was joined by artist Jose ("Pepe") Gonzales, who is considered to be Vampi's most defining artist (for the stories, if not the covers) in issue #12 (1971), completing the formula for the series. Even though Goodwin soon departed in issue #16, it was not before setting up a battle between Vampirella and Count Dracula. The only other significant recurring characters to be added to the cast after Goodwin left were the Blood Red Queen of Hearts and Pantha. These were the characters everyone remembers when they think of the Warren Vampirella.

    Say what you want about DE's version of Vampirella, I really don't care all that much. The important thing to me is that DE has embarked on a plan to reprint everything worthwhile related to Vampirella that has been published in the past.

    The Vampirella Archives series (8 Volumes so far, with Vol. 9 due in March) reprints in hardcover, at full size, the complete contents of the Warren series including full-color covers, letters pages, and house ads (but excluding stories reprinted from earlier Warren issues) at about 6 or 7 issues per volume, in a format that exactly matches Dark Horse's Creepy Archives and Eerie Archives.

    The Vampirella Masters series (8 Volumes) reprints in trade paperback the best of the Harris years, including work from a who's-who of contemporary writers like Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Mark Millar, Alan Moore, Kurt Busiek, James Robinson, and Mike Carey.

    Vampirella: The Essential Warren Years, Volume 1 (out next week) reprints chronologically, in black and white, the same content as Harris' Vampirella: Crimson Chronicles MAXIMUM: just the Vampirella stories from the first 37 issues of the Warren series, in a thick, 450-page trade paperback. At this rate, it will only take 2 more volumes to completely reprint all the Warren Vampirella stories.

    In addition, Dynamite has gone above and beyond the call of duty to produce two sumptuous art books:
    The Art of Vampirella ($30, reprinting the best Vampi art from the 1990s and 2000s, including a who's-who of contemporary artists) and The Art of Vampirella: The Warren Years ($40, reprinting all of Warren's original art for the covers of Vampirella magazine.) Here you will find all the most iconic Vampi images painted by Warren cover artists Enrich and Sanjulian, and also the contributions of Frazetta, Aslan, Ken Kelly, Jose Gonzales, Boris Vallejo, Paul Gulacy, Bob Larkin, and all the rest. Both of these books (and most especially the latter) are well worth the small investment of your hard-earned dollars, as opposed to say, purchasing 10 issues of whatever comics DE happens to be publishing right now. The latter book, in particular, contains a very informative introduction and issue-by-issue commentary which gives great insight into the behind the scenes creation of Vampi during the Warren years.

    Dynamite even produced a full-size reproduction of the original door-sized poster painted by Enrich of Vampirella (arm extended, holding a bat on her finger), that was offered for years via mail order from Captain Company in the back pages of Warren's Vampirella magazine.

    So you know what, I don't care if DE doesn't publish another new Vampirella story (although it would be nice if they did). For my money, them purchasing the rights to the character was the best thing that could have happened to Vampi, if it means all the past Vampirella stories and artwork are going to be available as high-quality reprints.
    Last edited by pulphero; 02-14-2014 at 10:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pulphero View Post
    The Art of Vampirella: The Warren Years
    Great post. I'm buying this!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rlvaugh View Post
    Thanks, Pulphero, that was interesting. I have read stories that Warren and some others thought up the "mod witch" idea that led to Vampirella in a Lear jet in a lightning storm over Brazil. Do you know anything about that?
    Can't say I've heard that one. Several sources agree that the inspiration came from Jim Warren and Forry Ackerman having attended a showing of Roger Vadim's Barbarella.

    Of course, there are a number of stories associated with the creation of Vampirella that seem contradictory. For example, one story has it that the original costume design was sketched by Trina Robbins while she was sitting in Warren's office listening to him describe the costume over the phone to Frank Frazetta. When she showed Warren the sketch, Warren immediate put her on the phone to describe the costume details to Frazetta as one artist to another. Fine as far as it goes, but there's another story that says the cover art by French pin-up artist "Aslan" (Alain Gourdon) that eventually wound up being used on the Vampirella 1972 Annual (which came out between the September [#12] and November [#13] 1971 issues of the regular magazine) was actually commissioned first, before Frazetta's cover, but for some reason Warren wasn't satisfied with it as the cover for the first issue, so he commissioned another by Frazetta. If Trina only sketched the costume for the first time while Warren was in conversation with Frazetta about the cover for #1, then how could Aslan have created it first? Note as well the appearance, in both Aslan's and Frazetta's cover paintings, of the skull and shadowy batwing impression on a planet in the background. That's too much to mark down as pure coincidence. Did Warren dictate these as necessary elements, or did one artist incorporate them after seeing the other's work? The interesting thing about Aslan's cover is there seems to be more material in Vampi's costume than came to be the standard look. That's true of Frazetta's cover as well, and his single full-figure interior illustration of Vampi - it seems like neither artist intended the costume to be backless. In fact, Aslan's Vampi costume looks exactly the way she was sculpted for Aurora's "Monster Scenes" model kit of Vampirella which came out in 1971.

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    ..........................Aslan's cover.................................Trina sketch (1999 recreation)...........Frazetta's Vampirella #1 cover............

    Then there is a guy over on this page that owns the original sketch by interior artist Tom Sutton that he claims came before Frazetta or Aslan (which would also make the story about Trina designing the costume totally untrue).
    Last edited by pulphero; 02-15-2014 at 07:44 AM.

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    I have the "Icon" & "Legacy" compendium books on Frazetta's art. In one of them he called the costume "corny." So he clearly didn't invent it!

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    Oh yeah, forgot to mention, the reason given, by more than one source, for Warren's rejection of Aslan's cover was that Vampirella was "too pale". (...???...)
    I guess it's possible that the painting was reworked in the interim before it was printed on the cover of the 1972 Annual, but as it looks here, Aslan's Vampirella practically has a tan!
    Conversely, she never again looked as pale on the cover as she did in Frazetta's painting for issue #1.

    Maybe it's me, but even though I'm a die-hard Frazetta fan, I actually prefer Aslan's cover. I think it's the eyes, and that hint of a Mona Lisa smile...

    Great pose on the Frazetta cover, but Vampi's face is too ill-defined, and you can't even see her eyes.

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