Vampire Thursdays: Dracula: The Book Covers


By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

dracula5When you are as famous as Dracula, you are bound to get the cover treatment more than one time. Make that a bunch of times. Today, I’m discussing some of the best covers featuring the Count which I’ve been able to find.

Now, most covers of Dracula have suffered from Bela Lugosi Syndrome for many decades. By that, I mean the vampire on the cover would invariably look like the Universal vampire, or perhaps a variation of Christopher Lee, who was also one of the Count’s most famous players, just like the cover to the right. This has changed over the past two decades, when the desire to modernize the Count and move away from those retro images, has inspired many more covers that, instead of featuring the Count, will have, for example, a big castle, which is also becoming a bit repetitive. Now, this doesn’t mean we haven’t had some great covers for Dracula and ones that have approached the subject manner in interesting ways.

dracula1First of all, there is this retro cover by Perma Books. I like it because of the stylized shadow-hand reaching towards the woman, which is reminiscent of Nosferatu and the German expressionist period. It’s a stylish, very-period-specific cover and it works, even if the tagline proclaiming it The Most Famous Horror Story Ever Told! seems a tad redundant.

dracula2This cover of Dracula comes from a much more recent edition. It’s an elegant solution to package the novel in this way, without blood dripping or fangs. The type used for the title is suitably ornate and the D is especially lovely. We glimpse only a bit of the face of a woman, apparently lying down, which creates some mystery. Most of the cover’s surface is occupied by what looks like a big, purple, Rorschach-like ink blot. The overall effect is sexy yet restrained. The only thing that bothers me is the use of the word “a novel”. It seems to intrude upon the portrait of the woman and such labels always make me wonder what else could it be. A sandwich?

dracula3The cover for Dracula: The Un-dead, the official sequel to Dracula, goes for mystery by giving us a figure in a red cape, glimpsed from behind and from afar. The contrasting whiteness of the street and the framing of the figure draws the eye immediately to the mysterious person in red. The type is not spectacular, but the overall effect is quite pleasing. The alternate cover, in red, is frankly too red for me, but it does have a more interesting use of fonts.

dracula4A Coldness in the Blood (The Dracula Series) gives us a pretty good-looking Count. The outfit is not the usual cape and choker, but maintains the black-and-white colour dress-scheme of the old-fashioned count. The pose is nice and the face contains some excellent detailing, such as the dark shadows under the eyes. There’s also a big red ruby poking out in the background, which is a nice solution to the blood issue. The font is yellow, bold, and I like the shape of the letters. Overall, a very nice cover, which reminds me of old-fashioned Dracula while doing it with a modern twist. Compare that to, say, the cover of Dracula In Love (top of page) and you can see the difference.

dracula7For a different take on the Count, you ought to give this pricey, but definitely nice, collector’s edition of Dracula a try. At more than $100, Centipede Press’s Dracula may seem a bit steep, but this company produces beautiful books and the cover is testament to that. Using an illustration by Greg Hildebrandt, this is the Dracula as imagined by Bram Stoker (moustached, older gentleman), but it’s clear that, despite the change in appearance, he still has a way with the ladies. This cover get a thumbs-up for going for a different Dracula than the younger guy we are used to and succeeding.

dracula6Now, so you can’t say I’m rejecting all the covers that don’t feature people; here’s a 2001 edition of Dracula, which uses the colour yellow and a desolate, ruined landscape to good effect. The nice detail of the cross peeking out from behind the title and the red border seal the deal for me, making this one of the nicer covers using landscapes and castles that I’ve happened to stumble upon.

There are literally hundreds of Dracula covers and I’m not attempting to make an all-encompassing list, so we’ll leave it at this. Consider it a selection of some of the covers that have struck me as most interesting. What about you? Do you have a favourite Dracula cover?