A Project With Real Teeth
Ricardo Delgado is an artist and illustrator who has worked extensively in film and comics. Here he spoke to Tripwire’s editor-in-chief about his new project, Dracula of Transylvania, currently funding on kickstarter and to be published through Clover Press…
TRIPWIRE: Dracula is such a well mined character in fiction. How did you come up with a fresh take on Stoker’s creation?
RICARDO DELGADO: I just wanted a warlord and conqueror, not a sympathetic character. That angle has been played out in my opinion. What if the most powerful figures in the last thousand years were actually terrified of someone even scarier! What if this villain had crushed any and all armies from Ming Dynasty China to 1453 Constantinople? And what if said villain took all of his fruits of conquests, built a horrific castle and dared any and all comers to come and take him? That’s who I wanted my Dracula to be. A truly malevolent, dominating menace. The son of Satan.
This is not your parent’s Dracula!
TW: Dracula of Transylvania is an illustrated book rather than a graphic novel. What made you decide to pursue this format rather than a graphic novel?
RD: I just wanted to stretch myself out creatively in a new direction, one that I felt comfortable with yet not in comic book form so that I could inform the audience in a different way, with using my conceptual designer skillset to supplement my writing, and I feel like I painted enough of a verbal picture for the audience that they will really enjoy the concept art, and vice-versa. My version of the character is an amazing shapeshifter with the ability to change form from second to second, and I wanted my concepts to reflect that surreal ability. No traditional practical effects here, lol, though I do love classic old monster movies with those very cool rubber bats in them.
TW: It is being published through Clover Press. What were the reasons for you going with this publisher?
RD: They’re a new, up-and-coming publisher with big ideas and I bought into their strategies, and it’s clearly paid off. They clearly know what they are doing because the campaign has been a runaway success and we now have the proof of concept to move ahead. I explained that this story is a fast-paced thriller with the sensibilities of Friedkin’s EXORCIST yet with the haunting flavor of the Victorian era ghost stories by M.R. James and Sheridan LeFanu. In fact, my Renfield is named Montague Rhodes Renfield in honor of M.R. James, whose ghost stories everyone who ever loved Halloween should look up. Especially AN EPISODE IN CATHEDRAL HISTORY which is in my opinion Mr. James’ ode to a vampire story. Everyone loves a good ghost story, and this one also delivers the sprawling adventure. Big time.
TW: You have also funded it through kickstarter rather than through traditional means. What are the advantages for yourself as a creator to use crowdfunding to make a project happen?
RD: As both a kid who did not have a wad of money in his pocket or an adult who is still a fan, what I love about this venue is the versatility. If you’re a casual Drac follower and you’ve never heard of me you have an opportunity to get what I’ve come up with for a $20 download. Or if you’ve followed my career and want something extra, you can buy the physical book along with a piece of my original art that I’ve created uniquely for the project. I call that a win/win or everyone.
TW: It has already been funded, in fact you have hit a number of your stretch goals. How nerve-wracking was it when the campaign started and how concerned were you that it wouldn’t hit its goals? Did you have a backup plan if it didn’t get funded?
RD: Not tough because I believe in the product. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s a damn cool story with really fun, cutting-edge concepts and visuals. Never really ever considered any other plan than a great product featuring one of the most iconic characters off all time. I knew this project would find its audience and I’m glad to see that plan come to fruition. I’d heard a lot of similar discussions and thoughts about Dracula being more of a badass and so I knew the time was ripe for a change, and the idea of giving Dracula an added motivation for coming to England was also important, and before you ask me what that motivation is, I’ll tell you that you’ll have to read the book, ha!
TW: What other fictional portrayals of Dracula have you drawn on that have influenced this project?
RD: Christopher Lee in the Hammer films, thrown in a lunch bag with the classic TOMB OF DRACULA comic books from Marvel’s 1970’s horror comics, along with the TV version of Barlow the vampire in SALEM’S LOT. That incarnation was the scariest vampire I’d ever seen, so those three, along with a bag of chips and an apple, lol.
TW: How much has your extensive work in films helped you to make this project a cinematic one?
RD: I worked for many storytellers in this business early on and they always talked about the story. “In our story,” or “In this story,” or “In this part of the story,” and it all stuck. This whole creative thing is all about story, story, story and I soaked that all in, so when it came time to recreate or rebrand or whatever anyone calls my book, I remembered all of the thoughts of folks like Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Ron Howard as well as the directors over at Disney Feature animation, so I crafted a story that for me worked tightly, had motivations for all the characters and added this vast supernatural world around the son of Satan. And this is all part of my growth as a kid watching the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films and having those films imprint themselves upon my genetic memory.
TW: If you could describe Dracula of Transylvania in a single sentence, what would it be?
RD: Gothic horror amid lightning-paced adventure with a heaping spoon of contextual history. And one badass vampire king.
Okay that’s two, but you know what I mean! Thanks for having me.
Support Dracula of Transylvania here