Thursday, March 26, 2009



Artist/illustrator Pepe González who drew many of the Vampirella comics for Marvel with great style and flare recently passed away. Looking back at some of his Vampirella artwork (which caused such a stir back in the day when comics were supposedly just for kids) reminded me of this series of Vampirella novels written by Ron Goulart for Warner in 1975-76.

The Warner (US) series ran to six titles, only three of which made it to the UK where they were published by Sphere in 1976-77. As in most cases, I prefer the UK covers beautifully painted by Gino D'Achille.

With the success of the comic version of Vampirella, some wag at Warners jumped on the success band wagon by proposing a series of original novels. Ron Goulart, one of the last of the great pulpmeisters, was hired to pen the series. Goulart’s background included a ton of similar novels, many written under pseudonyms. Among his more than 180 novels, many with large dashes of humor, he also wrote novelized versions of the Phantom and The Avenger.

Though very short (some only clocking in at 141 pages), the Vampirella novels were well packaged with eye catching covers (mostly artwork from the comics version) and over the top cover blurbs – The beautiful but deadly siren from the stars battles the evil of voodoo and the Undead of the Earth.

For those of us who are still in tune with our inner thirteen year old, our blood gets flowing when we read such an example of purple prose. Those who consider themselves more mature, however, just don’t get it.

You have to be in a certain mood to enjoy these. There is a lot of juvenile humor regarding Vampirella’s skimpy outfit and physical attributes. The horror element wouldn’t even register on the current scale. But there is an innocent pulp feel – voodoo ceremonies, naked sacrificial virgins, blood drinking, humorous drunks, hypnotism, werewolves, alter chainings, and tittering sex appeal – that makes all the lameness palatable.

I don’t see me rereading these anytime soon, but my inner thirteen year old still cherishes their memory and won’t let me condemn them to the Friends of the Library store.


David Cranmer said...

I may never read this series but I certainly enjoyed your review and can appreciate being in touch with my inner thirteen year old.

James Reasoner said...

I read the first two or three of these and liked them. They're based on the comics scripts by the late Archie Goodwin, who in addition to sharing a name with a Rex Stout character was a fine comics writer for a long time.

Todd Mason said...

Goulart's less work-to-hire work richly deserves your attention...I think, you, Paul, might really dig his Hollywood mysteries...and I'm always ready to plug RG's Max Kearney, accidental psychic detective, stories (most collected in GHOST BREAKER).