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Terrifying storytelling with historical context: Ricardo Delgado’s talks 'Dracula of Transylvania'

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Terrifying storytelling with historical context: Ricardo Delgado’s talks ‘Dracula of Transylvania’

‘We are all really just staring at ourselves in that abyss.”

You might know Ricardo Delgado best from his dinosaur comic Age of Reptiles. Now, though, he’s launched a Kickstarter for new project featuring a different kind of fanged monster. (The campaign runs through March 25, and as of publication has raised more than $5,000 of its $10,000 goal.) Dracula of Transylvania is a new novel featuring more than 20 illustrations and an introduction by Donald F. Glut. The illustrations (see a few below) are darkly twisted and truly embody Delgado’s aesthetic and larger aim for the story.

I had the opportunity to ask Delgado a few questions about the project, and we delved into the historical fiction of the series, the similarities between dinosaurs and vampires, and much more!

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

Terrifying storytelling with historical context: Ricardo Delgado’s talks 'Dracula of Transylvania'

AIPT: Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions, Ricardo. Your work spans so many genres, from dinosaurs in Age of Reptiles to hard-boiled sci-fi in Warhead. What made you turn to vampires and Dracula specifically for this project?

Ricardo Delgado: Hey, my pleasure, thanks for asking! I would say that I had not explored horror in my stories so this was all fresh new territory for me, which made it exciting. I also saw it as a challenge: Could I create a horror novel while giving it the pacing of a modern story and fill it with terrific new characters and action? The answer is a resounding yes, by the way. Big time. Chock full of monsters, action, terrors, and a great story with great characters. A big story tapestry unhindered by a studio budget.

AIPT: I love the idea of weaving in historical facts with fiction. Was it hard to limit yourself in how many historical facts you connected to this story?

RD: Thanks, that was one of the major appeals as well. Didn’t start out that way, but this story was set in 1899, and that point in time was when the world evolved into the machine age and the modern world and I was taken by the idea of how a conqueror like Dracula would react to all that change, all that modernity. Ocean liners instead of sailing ships? The encroachment of modern Rome upon the ruins of the fabled/infamous Colosseum? The catacombs of Paris? It was a fun playground to write about.

Ricardo Delgado’s 'Dracula of Transylvania'

Courtesy of Ricardo Delgado.

AIPT: I believe this is your first Kickstarter, how have you liked preparing for this project and (since this will run after launch) seeing reactions to the Kickstarter?

RD: I cannot do anything other than prepare for publication what I deeply believe to be a great story with some imagery that is something that we’ve never seen before. I believe in the project and the product. I believe in Dracula of Transylvania. I wish I’d read this book as a kid. Some fun, haunting, terrifying and adventurous stuff here, all set within a historical context. You’ll learn stuff as you read, but it will be fun, I promise.

Ricardo Delgado’s 'Dracula of Transylvania'

Courtesy of Ricardo Delgado.

AIPT: We have an entire science section at AIPT, along with a lot of dinosaur lovers. Could you speak to your love of dinosaurs?

RD: Dinosaurs are real monsters. They existed. Lived and died. Then their fossils became the basis for both the mythologies of our respective cultures but also helped establish our modern science! They were and are one of the true wonders of our world. My parents took my siblings and I to the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History as kids and I just thought those skeletons and reconstructions were the most amazing things I’d ever seen. I also loved the paintings and illustrations of the immortal paleo artist Charles R. Knight that I found in books and magazines. As a child his imagery struck me to be photographic, there’s no way to explain it. Concurrently with all that was my experience at first seeing the original KING KONG on television. To me seeing those dinosaurs move and act was a life-altering experience, and I’ve never recovered, lol!    

AIPT: I must ask, do you see any similarities between Dracula and dinosaurs? To many, they are both monsters!

RD: Both are products of our Id. The stuff that we fear. Yet we are all really just staring at ourselves in that abyss. We at times are monsters. One of the things I’ve found interesting in my research for this story is the idea that the lore surrounding vampires, werewolves and things that go bump in the night is the idea that societies back then based their invention of these bloodthirsty creatures to explain the actual events surrounding serial killers before they could be documented with modern criminology. Ghoulish, yes, but interesting how the mind reacts to the impossible or abhorrent. In a similar vein, pardon the pun, dinosaurs were the way we interpreted myths before and during the ancient world. So my point is that we’ve always loved and feared monsters, whether real or imagined.

Ricardo Delgado’s 'Dracula of Transylvania'

Courtesy of Ricardo Delgado.

AIPT: Is there a tier you are particularly excited about for Dracula of Transylvania?

RD: Yes, the extremes and variety. Love the idea that a straight download is available for a reasonable price as well as the idea that my sketches can be part of a larger, premium package. That’s the great angle behind this ever-evolving field of publishing. As a kid I might not have been able to afford anything other than a download and as a fan I’d be enticed by the opportunity to own an original piece of art along with the book. Something for everyone. Cool stuff.

AIPT: Were there any challenges you didn’t expect from this project?

RD: My Latin translations of my more modern syntax are not as tight as I’d like them, but try not to hold it against me. It’s not easy to translate a 19th century vampire quoting Darwin, for example. That stated, the book is a big bowl of fun, you haven’t seen anything designed for a Dracula story like this before! Check it out!

Ricardo Delgado’s 'Dracula of Transylvania'

Courtesy of Ricardo Delgado.

Like what you hear? Back the Kickstarter today!

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