Published on May 15th, 2016 | by Steven Roman
Review: Jose Gonzalez’s Vampirella: Art Edition
Although it was Forrest J Ackerman—co-creator of Vampirella and the creator/editor of the horror-movie magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland—who scripted Vampi’s first jokey appearances, it was legendary writer/artist Archie Goodwin (Star Wars, Manhunter, Iron Man) who set the dramatic tone for the Vampirella that readers came to know, introducing such concepts as Vampi’s comedic sidekick, the often-inebriated stage magician Mordecai Pendragon; her love interest, Adam Van Helsing, and his blind-but-still-lethal vampire-hunting father, Conrad; the blood-substitute serum that allowed her to slake her thirst instead of killing innocent victims; and, most important, the Cult of Chaos: an Elder God–worshipping religious organization that was heavily influenced by author H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.
But what really captured readers’ attention was the incredible good-girl art style of Spanish sensation Jose Gonzalez, hired by publisher James Warren to replace original series artist Tom Sutton (who went on to a successful career of his own at such publishers as Marvel, DC, and Charlton). Gonzalez made his debut in Vampirella #12’s Goodwin-scripted “Death’s Dark Angel” and immediately set the high bar for Vampi artists to follow.
Just how high? The answer is found in the pages of Jose Gonzalez’s Vampirella: Art Edition, a 152-page master class in illustration set to be released on May 25 from Dynamite Entertainment. In it you’ll find full-size reproductions of Gonzalez’s black-and-white art for the following stories:
- “The Resurrection of Papa Voudou” (Vampirella #15), “…And Be a Bride of Chaos” (Vampirella #16), and “She Who Waits” (Vampirella #37), written by Goodwin. “Bride” is the story that brought Dracula into the Vampi-verse.
- “Shadow of Dracula” (Vampirella #19), written by T. Casey Brennan (Creepy, Fantasy Quarterly). The second half of a two-part story; part 1, “Dracula Still Lives!” (Vampirella #18) doesn’t appear here.
- “Slithers of the Sand” (Vampirella #21) and “The Blood Queen of Bayou Parish” (Vampirella #23), written by Steve Englehart (Avengers, Batman, X-Men).
- “Return Trip” (Vampirella #27), written by Josep Toutain (aka Jose Toutain). Originally released in Warren Publishing’s weird, often murky coloring style, fans can now enjoy Gonzalez’s pages as they should have been seen.
- “Curse of the MacDaemons” (Vampirella #28), written by Flaxman Loew (a pseudonym for John Michael Butterworth [The Trigan Empire]).
- “An Eye for an Eye” (Vampirella #61), written by Bill DuBay (The Rook). An odd choice for the book, given this is the second part of a three-issue storyline involving the return of Vampi’s archnemesis, the Blood Red Queen of Hearts, but perhaps Dynamite couldn’t track down the art for the other sections.
- “Spawn of the Star Beast” (Vampirella #108) and “The Walker of Worlds” (Vampirella #112), written by Rich Margopoulos (Creepy, Haunt of Horror). Issue 112 was the final Warren-published issue.
Not every story is a winner here—no writer ever really came close to matching Goodwin’s inventiveness on the series—but Gonzalez finds a way to make each of them memorable in his incredible style. Beautiful women, handsomely rugged men, lush backgrounds, lighting effects, ink washes—Gonzalez brought all his incredible talents to these stories (and more), and it’s something that should not be missed.
Bottom line? Yes, at $150.00 it’s an expensive book (what artist’s edition isn’t?), but for old-school Vampirella fans, admirers of bad-girl art, and lovers of classic comic art created by a master illustrator, Jose Gonzalez’s Vampirella: Art Edition is really something that should be in your collection.
Jose Gonzalez’s Vampirella: Art Edition
Art by Jose Gonzalez
Stories by Archie Goodwin, Steve Englehart, Bill DuBay, T. Casey Brennan, Josep Toutain, Flaxman Loew, and Rich Margopoulos
Introduction by Roy Thomas
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
152 pages • b&w • hardcover
On sale May 25, 2016
Interested in learning about other bad girl–themed comic-art collections? Then check out my reviews of Frank Thorne’s Red Sonja: Art Edition, Vol. 2 and Frank Thorne’s Red Sonja: Art Edition, Vol. 3, also published by Dynamite Entertainment.