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Bram Stoker's Dracula: The Graphic Novel    by Gary Reed & Becky Cloonan order for
Bram Stoker's Dracula
by Gary Reed
Order:  USA  Can
Puffin, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

When Jonathan Harker is summoned to Transylvania to work for Count Dracula, he is of course oblivious to the fact that he is now in the employment of a creature who enjoys sucking the life force out of humans, especially young beautiful females like Harker's betrothed Mina. But then again, don't we all feel at times we are employed by people who enjoy sucking our life force from us - though not in such a thorough fashion as the Count does.

As Harker learns more about his employer, he realizes that he is not safe and needs to return home to his beloved Mina. Back in England, while Mina awaits Jon, she celebrates with her friend Lucy, who has also accepted a proposal for marriage. But their happiness fades as an abandoned ship crashes ashore with a dreadful captain's log. Soon afterwards, Lucy is struck by a sudden and strange illness, which gains the attention of Professor Van Helsing.

Puffin Books proves that not only can they translate a great work into a different medium (a graphic novel), they can also produce a versatile piece that children (eight and up) can enjoy and adults too will find captivating. Even the more violent scenes are well-crafted, delivering the action but not dwelling on it. As illustrator, Becky Cloonan walks a tight line of being true to the story but also keeping the young audience in mind. She manages fantastically as her drawings show little, but hint of more for those experienced at reading between the panels.

Cloonan and Reed's best work comes in the form of integrating letters into the panels so that reading the letters and plot progression flow smoothly. Gary Reed's adaptation certainly helps Cloonan's art direction. His previous experience in horror, proved him more than capable at spinning this dark tale. With notes in the back from both Reed and Cloonan, readers learn a bit more about the authors while also enjoying additional sketches from Cloonan.

One can't get more classic in the horror genre than Dracula but how one chooses to present the tale can make all the difference between paying homage and disgracing the original. Though this piece is marketed toward a much younger audience than originally intended, adult readers will be impressed by how well it stays true and keeps their attention, while younger readers will effortlessly find themselves engrossed in the story.

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