By Todd Allen
One of the nice things about being around a large library system is being able to take a flier on a graphic novel you might not otherwise pick up. Not too long ago, I happened up Vol. 1-3 of Dracula: The Company of Monsters on the shelf and figured “it’s Kurt Busiek… how bad could it be?” I picked up the first volume and ended up going back the next day for the rest of the set.
When I first saw the title, I thought this was going to be some sort of monster team-up. It isn’t the “Company of Monster” is a witty way of describing one of the villains of the piece: an actual company. With all the news coverage of corporate scandals and ethics breaches, Busiek has positioned a company (or at least the executive suite and assorted ladder climbers) as a monster.
In broad strokes, as the family business is struggling, the fellow running it decides he needs to raise Dracula from the grave, bend him to his will, and use the lord of the vampire’s powers to influence the minds of mere mortals to cut some favorable deals. At least that where it starts, and the best laid plans of mice and men tend to go astray pretty quickly when the involve Dracula. This is a more business-y Dracula than I’m accustomed to seeing. His statesman past is emphasized and his promises are binding. A charming monster whose teeth are saved for when they’re needed.
The corporate angle may sound a little goofy, but it’s a quick moving story with just enough snark about Gordon Gekko-tendencies to give you a smile here and there. I’d put this in the category of very well done bubblegum, rather than an epic. There’s subtext to it, but it’s more of a romp.
The writing is by Kurt Busiek and Daryl Gregory. My understanding is Busiek outlined the tale and Gregory fleshed it out into scripts. The art is by Scott Godlewski and Damian Couceiro.
I could tell you more about, but why not just go have a look for yourself. Boom! put the first tpb online. The story starts here. Give it 20 pages or so.
This title went under my radar when it was in monthly format, but that website is a good way revisit a fun comic that should have fared a little better.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.