My contribution to “We Don’t Go There At Night”, a horror comics anthology run by Rosa of the webcomic Mythos.
The rules were simple: adapt a short story into a comic using only the words provided. I had a few ideas lined up, particularly one about a hand stealing pianist, but after spending half my time watching old horror films I settled on a Nosferatu adaption.
Nosferatu was an interesting movie. It’s an unofficial adaption of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the connections resulting in a lawsuit and destruction of the film that almost wiped it from existence. While some aspects are closer to the book than others — especially with the main characters who are DeviantArt levels of “original character don’t steal” (Hutter? Seriously?) — the biggest difference in characterization is this movie’s villain, Count Orlock.
Dracula was undeniably a menacing figure but Orlock’s motivation is much less clear. Orlock calls on Hutter, a real estate agent just like Harker, to finalize a deal to move to the city. While Dracula moved to spread his evil among a larger populace, Orlock becomes infatuated after seeing a picture of Hutter’s wife Ellen before revealing that he’s moving across from Hutter. So, what, did Orlock know about Hutter’s wife before seeing her picture and this drove his decision to move in the first place? I don’t know, the plot makes no sense but the movie’s strength lies in its set design and atmosphere.
I’m sure Nosferatu scared the shit out of people in the 20s but I felt more pity than loathing for Orlock. Unlike Dracula who lived in a spooky castle with a harem of vampire brides, Orlock lives alone in a ruined castle. Through his dialog and body language he acts more like an antisocial nerd than a brooding menace. Despite bringing plagued rats with him to London and causing panic, it’s hard to take his actions as any serious direct threat.
It’s revealed that the only way to defeat Orlock is by a beautiful woman distracting him from the morning sun. Against her husband’s wishes, Ellen reads a book on vampires and discovers the secret. While the men of the village chase after the harmless Knock, an insane man corrupted by Orlock’s influence (this movie’s Renfield), Ellen entices Orlock over (whose watching her from his window like a perv) and sacrifices herself to destroy him. ”Twas beauty that killed the beast.”
During the creation process I took the short story I was given, printed it out, and cut out the individual words following William S. Burroughs’ cut-up technique. The final wording sounding very much like a vampire story and my head immediately went back to Nosferatu, a process that was completely by accident.
With my mind wandering over the possibilities of a story, I wanted to know what Orlock’s story was. Whereas Dracula and most European vampires are clear allegory for sexual predators, Orlock spends his time chasing after a single woman and is ultimately destroyed for it. I wanted to capture the idea of a weak man brought to ruin by his lust but also make him pitiable in the end. Pathetic, not sympathetic, for that’s how I saw Orlock.
This comic almost didn’t get made. I finished the first splash page and thumbnails three weeks before the deadline, farted around, then began working on the rest literally 2 days before the deadline with the final splash page running almost half a day over. I’m kicking myself for rushing through but also patting myself on the back for completing something. I’ve learned a lot about the technical aspects of making a comic, particularly when it comes to scanning and touching up — a process I’m still working on. Doing a painted comic is not easy when it finally comes time to digitize it. Some of my favorite artists like Juanjo Guarnido and Jill Thompson make it look fucking easy.
I’d love to do something like this again and the only reason I’m writing so much about it is because it’s (sadly) the longest and most time consuming project I’ve ever worked on. I thought about touching up some of the weaker aspects, particularly the last few pages where my time (and quality) ran low, but I want to leave this where it is and move forward. I have a larger, more serious project in the works and everything I learned here is being put to the test.
It was a pleasure to look through these, even though I felt a little lost before I read the blurb about what exactly you were doing. I really liked seeing some of those images inspired by actual shots done in watercolor! Thanks for sharing this.
As a side note, I just want to point out that even in the 20’s there was a fair amount of criticism for this film. I’ve never read about anyone being absolutely terrified by it, but I did read a review that was probably biased about how “some women may have had a bad night at the premiere.” Some people thought Mr. Schreck’s costume/acting was decent, but that Murnau placed the camera too close and lit him too brightly for there to be enough sense of mystery or danger.
Also, I disagree that Hutter and Ellen are poor characters. I think they differ quite a lot from Mina and Jonathan Harker in Dracula, and after watching the film countless times and studying it, I’ve found that their specific personalities contribute deeply to some of the themes that distinguish this film from being purely an adaptation of Dracula.
Orlok is spelled without a C, too. Just had to lay that out there.
Really, though, thank you for contributing something to the Nosferatu tag. It gets lonely around here.
I thought it was the torrenters getting lazy…
Well, that’s very nice because if I had to watch two episode of this thing I’d probably end up dragon kicking the computer.
Feel free to use it if you ever need it -but I highly doubt it-
The original -nonstoker- gif is here.
Well, since last week I was too busy to write a liveblog, I was going to liveblog eps 4 & 5 today, but it turns out only the torrent for 4 is out.
The liveblog follows, under the cut.
I’ve seen some NBC dracula posts in my dash and
I doubt between two capitons to add to this
"Hello, darkness my old friend"
"I stared at the abyss, and it shipped Dracula with Mina Harker"
I am still not done with classwork, so consider the liveblog delayed until I have some free time from college.
a.k.a. the dreadful weekly liveblog of NBC Dracula. Under read more, as always. Also, today its going to be a lot angrier, because I am sick, I have fever, cramps, and I want to bite people. Be warned.
I was looking for spanish subs for the liveblog and I just… I just…
Mexican Luchador Dracula. I swear to god I am going to watch
and probably liveblog this next week.