“Vlada: A Dracula Tale” is a brand-new graphic novel by writer Chris Denmead and artist Ken Hunt that gives the classic story a contemporary spin including gender reversal. The 80-page graphic novella contains 47 pages of text and 24 pages of illustrations. It was introduced to the public via a successful Kickstarter campaign that was launched in October of 2020. Chris Denmead is known to the horror community as the host of Radio of Horror.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How and when did you discover your love for horror?
Chris Denmead (CD): WAYYY back when I was a kid, watching movie I shouldn’t have been.
MM: You are known as the host of Radio of Horror, so how did you establish yourself in radio?
CD: Longer story then I can type here lol. But I been doing it since 2007.
MM: How did you grow your radio fan base and what can listeners expect from the show?
CD: Lots of hard work and never giving up. I’m coming up on 666 broadcasts soon!
MM: What prompted you to try your hand at writing graphic novels?
CD: I always wanted to write it’s just a matter of sitting down and doing it. Vlada been a passion project for many, many years
MM: How did you meet the artist and what did you most enjoy about working together?
CD: He came on my show Radio of Horror in 2013 as a guest and met at the Boston Comic Con that year then in 2017 did a cover for Vlada which we used as a print in the Kickstarter last year.
MM: How did the concept for “Vlada” come to you?
CD: After watching a play, and they gendered-swapped some characters in Shakespeare, it occurred to me no one had done that with Dracula as far as I was aware. Maybe just Dracula been gender swapped or played by a woman but NOT the entire cast. It started as a movie failed and then became a comic and now this Graphic Novella.
MM: Was it tough to give an older story modern twists?
CD: Nope, very easy but we don’t say when it takes place since they may use phones and cars and woman have jobs and careers. I never say exactly when it takes place they still use trains and boats too.
MM: What’s your favorite thing about this project?
CD: The twist and turns and homages I give to my other favorite Vampire fiction like “Castlevania,” “Hammer Dracula” and “Fright Night Part 2.”
MM: How long did it take for you complete Vlada?
CD: Years, it was a short film, then a failed movie on Kickstarter, then a comic in 2016, then a hassle with a bunch of artists who could not commit or just disappeared and ghosted or were unable to do the job. It then landed on Ken and we changed it from a three-issue comic to a 80 page graphic novella akin to Bernie Wrightson Frankesnten.
MM: Why did you decide to launch this project via Kickstarter?
CD: I was really beaten and seduced and tortured into it NO NO NO hahahaha…. I’m kidding. I was convinced by the Artist Ken Hunt and Cosplayer Cara Nicole to do it on Kickstarter.
MM: Do you feel that your radio fan base helped to make the Kickstarter campaign successful?
CD: Maybe a little bit, but I’m not sure how much.
MM: What sort of reader feedback have you garnered?
CD: It’s all been really positive! People said they don’t put it down and enjoy it. Vlada is not as long as the original novel Dracula which is 200 pages.
MM: Might there be a sequel at some point?
CD: If you read it you can see where it’s going next. It may or may not be with Vlada…You have to read it and wait for 2023. We add twists and turns to the story to make it unique and different than Brams original story. I wanted to honor him but also make Vlada my own. We add a new minor character to the story who wasn’t in the old novel.
MM: What projects are coming up for you soon and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
CD: I’m redoing the art on a children’s Halloween book with a cosplayer artist named Chanda called “Give me Something Good to Eat” and I want to tackle a suicide awareness comic for teens as well as the audio book for Vlada–with Diana Porter–and getting Vlada into every store I can. Would like to also thank Wendy, Matt, Tim, Jessica, and Buzz for their help on the Kickstarter as well without them It would not have been as successful as it was.
* * * * *