Rodney Barnes and Jason Shawn Alexander, the writer and artist behind the Eisner Award-nominated Killadelphia, will team for a reimagining of the classic 1972 blaxploitation film Blacula. The officially-licensed graphic novel will be published by Barnes’s Zombie Love Studios, with a release slated for February 2022.
The 1972 Blacula was directed by William Crain from a screenplay by Joan Torres, Raymond Koenig, and Richard Glouner. The announcement of the graphic novel says that Barnes and Alexander’s adaptation will expand on the world and characters of the film, and “[build] a bridge from the ’70s version of the iconic bloodsucker to our present-day world and all of its complications.”
An adaptation of Blacula is a natural move for Barnes and Alexander, whose Image Comics series Killadelphia imagines a Philadelphia that, along with the typical issues of political and police corruption and crime, also has a vampire problem. The series was among the nominees for Best New Series in this year’s Eisner Awards.
Check out the full text of the announcement for the Blacula graphic novel adaptation below. Look for the book to arrive in stores in February of 2022.
LOS ANGELES, CA – August 6, 2021 – Zombie Love Studios, the comic studio and publishing imprint founded by Eisner Award nominated graphic novel creator and award-winning television writer-producer Rodney Barnes, today announced it plans to release a graphic novel adaptation of the classic 1970s film Blacula. Securing the graphic novel rights from Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), Barnes has reteamed with his Killadelphia collaborator and fellow Eisner Award nominee Jason Shawn Alexander to illustrate the property.
A veteran TV writer/producer and a seasoned graphic novel creator, Barnes is the perfect creative to bring the classic horror film back to life in this all-new way. Expanding from the original film, Barnes’ Blacula builds a bridge from the 70’s version of the iconic bloodsucker to our present-day world and all of its complications. Under the agreement, Barnes will adapt and release the property through his Zombie Love Studios. The graphic novel is slated for a February 2022 release.
“I first saw Blacula as an 8-year-old at the Capital Theater in Annapolis, Maryland and it had a profound effect on me. To bring the character to today’s sensibilities is truly an honor,” says Barnes.
Originally released in 1972 by American International Pictures (AIP) and later acquired by MGM through the studio’s acquisition of Orion Pictures, Blacula quickly became one of the highest-grossing films of its year, landing at #24 on Variety’s list of top films. The original Blacula is widely considered one of the first depictions of a Black vampire on-screen, and has been credited with sparking a wave of Black-themed horror films that would follow. However, it is the film’s storytelling and layered subtext that sparked Barnes creative interest. Using vampirism as a metaphor for slavery’s long-term repercussions, the original film offered cultural commentary that spoke to a deeper social and psychological curse inflicted upon a whole people. This creative characteristic is one that falls very much in line with Barnes’ approach to genre and content as a whole, but also speaks directly to the inspiration and motivation for launching his own comic studio and publishing imprint.
Launched with the goal of being a creative space dedicated to storytelling from BIPOC perspectives in a format where they typically aren’t told, Zombie Love Studios allows Barnes to simultaneously expand his creative footprint while also making a larger impact on the comic industry by eliminating any limitations on such stories to get to the honest depiction of the culture. In addition to Blacula, Barnes and Zombie Love Studios are set to release two additional titles in 2022: Crownsville, a ghost story set in the first black insane asylum in America, and Florence and Normandie, a science fiction epic set in South Los Angeles that Barnes has partnered with rapper Xzibit to create.
Rodney Barnes is represented by UTA, Artists First, and attorney Darrell Miller at Fox Rothschild.