Actor William Marshall may have left us in 2003, but of his many roles the one that continues to live on all these years later is that of the vampire Blacula, as featured in the 1972 film of the same name and its 1973 sequel, Scream Blacula Scream. Now the character is returning in a graphic novel from Zombie Love Studios, writer Rodney Barnes and illustrator Jason Shawn Alexander. Little is known about the plot, except that it will reportedly fill readers in on what the vampire has been up to since the 1970s. Enthuses Barnes, “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.
In the original film — which has a remake in development at MGM — Marshall plays an African prince named Mamuwalde who is transformed into a vampire by Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) in 1780 and is imprisoned in a coffin by the king of the vampires. Flash forward to 1972, and that coffin is opened, unleashing him on the world once again. In an interview with Junior Scholastic at the same time, Marshall explained, “The vampire role has never been played by a black actor before, so I tried to find a way to give it dignity. I talked the director into the film so that I come on scree as an African prince. I’m touring Europe to talk European rulers and nobles into backing an anti-slavery drive. On my tour, I stop off at Transylvania as Count Dracula’s guest. He kills me and turned me into a vampire, saying, “I curse you with my name. you will be Blacula, a vampire like myself.’ In the next scene, it’s 1972 and I have traveled to Los Angeles. There I cause a panic in the black ghetto section of Watts. But I do’t see Blacula as a fiend. He’s really as much a victim as those he terrorizes, and n the ed he sacrifices himself for love.”
Look for the Blacula graphic novel in February 2022.