When the name Ricardo Delgado comes up in fan circles, the first thought is most likely toothy predators. Delgado’s beautiful artwork for his Age of Reptiles graphic novel series was a dinosaur lover’s dream when they were initially released, cementing Delgado as a graphic storyteller, as well as a top notch storyboard and character designer for Hollywood.
This month, Delgado turns his attentions to a different type of fanged predator in the form of Dracula. Admirer’s of Delgado’s previous work will find his current Kickstarter project, Dracula of Transylvania, to be just as detailed, engaging, and creative as Age of Reptiles (as evidenced by the shattering of a number of stretch goals on the project already).
Delgado was gracious enough to speak to us about his new project (as well as all of those dinosaurs that made him famous) in this exclusive interview.
What was the genesis of Dracula of Transylvania?
Ricardo Delgado: Well, the story itself was thought out in broad beats, in many cases to fill in areas that perhaps were not explained in previous versions for reasons that may have been budgetary or for time. Cool thing about a novel is that if you want to write about say, Dracula’s coffin, you might say that his place of rest might be a thing of interest, and because off that you can in a prose novel go on for page after page about the coffin as long as it remains interesting. It does not stop the story is my point. Different than a movie or comic book or anything else. What is new about Dracula of Transylvania is that I’ve utilized my skills as a concept artist in Hollywood to design and visualize some of the more dynamic and interesting aspects of the story, like Dracula’s forms after he’s shape-shifted. No effects budget here to worry about, so I can go to town visually with images one might find in an Art of Star Wars book but here it helps support my story. Fun stuff!
What was your personal introduction to the world-famous character?
Delgado: As far as movies go, there was the combination of the Mexican Wrestling films that starred El Santo, and my favorite was El Santo contra las Mujeres Vampiro, along with the classic Universal monster movies that just seared themselves into my brain and spent many of the days leading up to Halloween watching all of them. I have to say that I really enjoy Dracula’s Daughter and Son of Dracula. I also loved the brilliant Christopher Lee version in the Hammer films. A non-Dracula TV movie called Salem’s Lot, based off the Stephen King book, really scared me, especially the lead vampire, which I learned later was based on Count Orlok vampire from Nosferatu. I also thoroughly obsessed over Marvel Comic’s Tomb of Dracula, which was another scary version of Drac. The Ben Cooper monster masks of the 1970’s were in my opinion superb, though I did wonder why they used the Glenn Strange Frankenstein instead of the classic Boris Karloff. I’ve just always loved that stuff my whole life.
You are well known for your dinosaur artwork in Age of Reptiles. Do you borrow anything from your work on dinosaurs when you illustrate supernatural creatures?
Delgado: Just the idea of trying to get the history as accurate as possible. Readers want to know that what they’re experiencing in a historical story is as close to what life was like back then. I tried to get it as right as possible for this story because it’s closer to when we are living in time and you just want to get it right. If you want to get from Whitby to the European continent, which means were available in 1899 and where could you make land if you sailed and what kind of boat? All that enhances the experience for the reader.
How is your approach to Dracula unique in terms of your imagining of him artistically?
Delgado: As a kid I was always frustrated with the depiction of the different forms of Dracula, and that’s no slight against those films, but what about if the bat that Dracula transformed into was not as cool for its time rubber bat, but a ravenous, menacing, intimidating bat so large it could stand eye to eye with you and rip your head off in one bite? What about the idea that historical figures throughout time were actually vampires and resented Dracula’s rule over the vampiric world? You’ll get both here. What if Dracula’s brides were not subservient victims left behind to guard a castle, but instead were ferocious shapeshifting predators that actually traveled to England along with Dracula to kick some Victorian (and vampiric) ass? And what about if you could see conceptual designs for all these effects, iterations and characters in one book? It’s all in this one, Dracula of Transylvania.
You have also included “footnotes” in the story about aspects of history, culture, etc. Why did you decided to include them and which one surprised you the most?
Delgado: Well, I wanted readers, particularly younger readers to know that there was a historical setting to the supernatural story they were reading and so I thought that annotations would further the interest of the readers. I tried to triple-check facts and feel like I did a good job overall so I have fingers crossed that this will be a welcome and added feature to their reading experience. I wanted folks to know what wealthy and regular folks ate, for example, and how sailing ships had advanced. Through the time of the story, and who knew that fried chicken was popular in 1899 Paris? I sure didn’t. It’s also good for young people to know that this story takes place thirty years after the American Civil War and thirty years before World War Two. Stuff like that. And all while reading a vampire story. Learning is fun if you don’t think it’s schoolwork.
What are the benefits and challenges of the crowd funding model for a project like this?
Delgado: Love, love, love the ability at both ends: As a kid there were times where I could not afford stuff so I appreciate the straightforward download for the casual fan, yet I’m super proud about the ability of those who would be interested to purchase a drawing from yours truly along with the book. That variety pleases me because it assures me that everyone who wants to read this story will get a chance to.
Delgado: A few, but not ready to announce just yet. I am working slowly but steadily on another Age of Reptiles and if this one does well, hopefully there will be more stories.
Dracula of Transylvania is currently available until March 25 on Kickstarter with a number of premium awards available for monster and art fans alike.