I asked artist Paul McCaffrey to use the cover of the Arrow edition of Dracula I first read in 1971 as a reference for this here’s-the-premise sequence in the first issue of the Anno Dracula comic.
This is the art before the text was added. Here, to give a peek into the process, is the script for this (Page 18).
The figures in the room are vivid, but the background is swirly distorted flashback images as if the people were standing against a mural depicting the events RUTHVEN is talking about. This page is our chance to fill in the premise of the series, but take into account the fact that RUTHVEN is an unreliable narrator and also not-so-secretly despises Dracula. The style of these images should be grotesque.
RUTHVEN: … as you know, in 1885, Count Dracula – as he then was – came to these shores to woo our late Queen.
SUB-PANEL IMAGE ONE: the Demeter, the ship of the dead,foundering off Whitby harbour, under a fanged, grinning full moon (DRACULA slipping ashore in the form of a dog).
SUB-PANEL IMAGE TWO: Queen Victoria (young) with a clawed hand on her shoulder and red eyes behind her (NB: refer to the image on the 1970 Arrow paperback edition of Dracula – see notes).
RUTHVEN: … Initially, he was not made welcome – a mad Dutchman, a junior solicitor, a cowboy, a deluded quack and other lamentables hatched a plot to assassinate him, which mercifully failed.
SUB-PANEL IMAGE THREE: the good guys of Dracula – VAN HELSING, HARKER, MORRIS, SEWARD,MINA, HOLMWOOD – with crosses, stakes, rifles and knives, posed like a hunting expedition.
SUB-PANEL IMAGE FOUR: cloaked shadow of DRACULA standing over fallen foes: NB: VAN HELSING beheaded, MORRIS stabbed in the throat, SEWARD mad, HARKER broken-backed, HOLMWOOD switching sides, MINA turned (cf: Anno Dracula, Chapter 16).
RUTHVEN: … Within months, he was Prince Consort and ruler of the greatest Empire the world has ever known. Not incidentally, his rise meant that those of us who had walked in shadows could emerge, if not into sunlight, into the public arena. Dracula was the visionary of the vampire ascendancy – which, among many other good things, means we are blessed in perpetuity with ornaments like yourself. We are ten years into the New Age. This must be celebrated. Our recent victory at sea sets the seal on the matter.
SUB-PANEL IMAGE FIVE: A fusion of Buckingham Palace and Castle Dracula, with the union flag and Dracula’s standard flying, lit up in glory, circled by bats and with a Dracula face worked into the image.
Here’s the note I gave Paul about this sequence: ‘VAN HELSING, QUINCY P.MORRIS, JONATHAN HARKER, MINA HARKER, DR SEWARD, ARTHUR HOLMWOOD – we only see one panel of this crew and that not very distinct, but VAN HELSING should be Peter Cushing with a crucifix, MORRIS should be Desperate Dan with six-shooters, MINA is the neckscarf-weraing version from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, JONATHAN a pale nobody. SEWARD and HOLMWOOD are big characters in the novel Anno Dracula and die there – I tend to think of them as the Mark Strong and Colin Firth characters from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in Victorian dress. SEWARD has a doctor’s bag. HOLMWOOD is rich, ie: too handsome, too well-dressed.’
The collected edition is on sale now. Here’s an Amazon link.