Manga Classics: Dracula by Stacy King begins with a young man arriving in a foreign land on a job assignment. Despite warnings and foreboding feelings of doom, he is spirited away on a carriage to Count Dracula’s castle. Count Dracula, a pale older gentleman wearing dark black robes, escorts him to his room. Jonathan Harker notices how strange the Count acts around him. The Count doesn’t eat with him. He sneaks up behind Jonathan as he is shaving. We get a visual clue that something is amiss as the Count’s reflection does not appear in the mirror. The Count, gazing hungrily at the cut on Jonathan’s cheek, lunges towards him but is stopped at the sight of a crucifix.
The next sequence follows Mina and her friend Lucy Westenra. Mina wears her hair up and is covered from the neck down, showing that she is more reserved and modest. Lucy has long flowing curly hair that is pulled back by braids. She wears a fancy dress, with a black choker, and a parasol to match. We can tell this is a free-spirited woman with high energy. She is pursued by three suitors: a doctor, a Texan, and a wealthy suitor. Strange things began to happen with Lucy. She is caught sleepwalking several times by her friend Mina. In one instance, Mina finds Lucy sitting alone on a park bench. In silhouette, a shadowy figure behind her is feasting on her neck.
The manga follows the story of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to the letter. It’s not interested in providing a reinterpretation. Dracula takes on many forms, such as a wolf, a bat, or mist slowly seeping into a room. I was impressed that after his initial introduction at the beginning of the story, he remains more of a mysterious figure. We hardly see him, but we do see the devastation he leaves in his wake. My favorite example of this is on one of his attacks on Lucy. He raps on the window like a bat and crashes through. Then like a television that is snowing, a demon-like face appears with jagged teeth. Shading begins to be very important to the storytelling and adds to the mood and atmosphere. Lightness follows when the story features the heroes. Darker shading indicates mystery, madness, and death. We can’t tell what horrors await us in the dark. My one gripe is that Van Helsing as presented here comes off as a character with very little personality. I have always viewed Anthony Hopkins’s portrayal of Van Helsing in the movie version as one of my favorite interpretations.
For those looking to entice readers into trying some classic literature, you can’t go wrong with Manga Classics: Dracula. I didn’t enjoy reading the ebook version, and probably would prefer the paperback one instead. It’s a faithful adaptation, captures the mood of the story, and is a great introduction to the story of Dracula. I found this to be a very appropriate title for teens.
Manga Classics: Dracula
by Stacy King
Art by Virginia Nitouhei
Manga Classics, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: T for Teens