On this month's Special Page:

Best-selling author Nancy Kilpatrick answers, "Why vampires?"


Kathe Koja
Joe R. Lansdale
Nicholas Vince
Elizabeth Massie
Christopher Golden
Mort Castle

About Nancy Kilpatrick


Nancy Kilpatrick has been a vampirophile for an eternity, it seems. She is an award-winning author and you can check out her books and sign up for her brief, once-a-month Newsletter on her website. Her newest series is Thrones of Blood which she warns are vampire novels for adults. Out so far, volumes 1 through 4: Revenge of the Vampir King; Sacrifice of the Hybrid Princess; Abduction of Two Rulers; Savagery of the Rebel King. Coming soon, volumes 5 and 6: Anguish of the Sapiens Queen (2020); Imperilment of the Hybrids (2021).

You can find Nancy HERE


by Nancy Kilpatrick


Have you noticed? Human beings are addicted; we just can't get enough of the Undead.

Vampires have crossed many oceans over millennia to be with us. They float like a mist through our collective unconscious as they have done at least since one of our ancient ancestors decided to become a biped. The first recorded story The Epic of Gilgamesh (2500 BCE) depicts a king making a few bad decisions and meeting up with The Deathbringer, frequently interpreted as a vampire.

Mythologies from pretty well every culture as oral traditions (some of which have fortunately been written down) have shed light on various facets of the vampire and created legends. To read about vampire myths, check out these two books (PDF free on the Internet)by Montague Summers The Vampire: His Kith and Kin and for historical evidence The Vampire In Europe. You can also find information by country at the extensive site European Vampire Research, shroudeater.com

Human history is littered with natural and man-made mass deaths. One particular example is the Bubonic Plague (aka The Black Death). This pandemic was identified as early as 224 BCE in China and the bacteria is still with us. Its European heyday was 1347-1350 with a return bout in 1361-1374, killing approximately 60% of the population, or 50,000,000 people. That massive number of dead left generations trembling and imaginations out of control.

Fear of such a deadly contagion wove its way through the continent. For example, in the mid-1700s, panic swept the Serbian countryside when victims reported night visits by recently deceased relatives or neighbors. Anyone struck by these violent visions died within days. When the panicked townspeople exhumed the offending corpses, they found "tell-tale" signs of vampirism: hair and nails that continued to grow post-death, blood in the mouth, a lack of decomposition. Science back then couldn't explain the metaphor, not that current scientific explanations have reassured the public—most recent polls say at least 10% of the U.S. population believes vampires really exist.

Panic insinuated itself into early vampire poetry:

The Vampire (Der Vampir) by Heinrich August Ossenfelder (1748) "And as softly thou art sleeping/To thee shall I come creeping/And thy life's blood drain away."

Lenore by Gottfried August Bürger (1773)

Travels into Dalmatia by Alberto Fortis (1774), among others, it features a story of fight against vampires.

The Bride of Corinth (Die Braut von Korinth) (The Bride of Corinth) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1797) "From my grave to wander I am forc'd..."

Thalaba the Destroyer by Robert Southey (1801)

The Vampyre by John Stagg (1810) "Why looks my lord so deadly pale..."

The Giaour by Lord Byron (1813)"But first, on earth as vampire sent, Thy corpse shall from its tomb be rent: Then ghostly haunt thy native place, And suck the blood of all thy race;..."

Christabel by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1816)

The first vampire short story in English came out of that now-famous weekend near Geneva in which Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley created Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818). George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron aka Lord Byron was there, and cranked out a scrap of paper which he threw away. His personal physician John Polidori rescued it and finished the tale. And while it was originally published under Byron's name—which couldn't have hurt sales—that was quickly remedied to "The Vampyre" (1819) by John William Polidori.

In 1828 Elizabeth Caroline Grey published The Skeleton Count, or The Vampire Mistress, the first vampire short story written by a woman.

The first vampire novel in English was penned by James Malcolm Rymer, or Thomas Prescott Prest. Varney the Vampire, or The Feast of Blood was serialized as a Penny Dreadful from 1845-1847, and then published in book form in 1847 as a massive tome, 220 chapters, 667,000 words.

Irish writer Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu wrote the first novella in English, this featuring a female vampire. Carmilla (1871-1872) is considered to be a lesbian seduction.

And finally we hit the biggie, never out of print, at one point outselling the Christian Bible. Irish writer Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) has spawned directly and indirectly thousands of vampire books.

Once celluloid was invented, vampires became ensconced in the moving picture realm.

Robert G. Vignola directed the silent film The Vampire (1913), based on Rudyard Kipling's poem "The Vampire" (1897). A line from the poem because the title of a later film. A Fool There Was (1915) starred one of the original silent film vamps, Theda Bara.

In 1922 German expressionist filmmaker F.W. Murnau put the first first blood-drinking vampire on the silver screen. Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) plagerized Stoker's novel Dracula. Widowed Florence Stoker sued and won and ostensibly all copies of the film were destroyed, but you can still watch this creepy silent cinema on YouTube.

Tod Browning directed the first authorized Dracula movie (1931), by the same name, starring Bela Lugosi in a talkie. The movie—based on the 1924 Broadway play by Hamilton Deane and John Balderston—was a run-away hit with the public.

Pulp Magazines aka The Pulps publishing during the years (1896-1950) carried into the twentieth century the Victorian penny dreadful and dime novel esthetic. They specialized in detective, crime, science fiction and horror. These stories were the print cousins of Paris' Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol (1897-1962), which presented short, lurid, dark plays, mainly horror, crime and science fiction. Le Vampire was one Parisian stage production.

Comic books have an Asian history but took off in the western world in the 1930s and continue on today including  Manga and graphic novels. Atlas produced a Dracula comic in 1951, but it was Marvel that came out with the immensely popular Tomb of Dracula in 1972. It and variations ran to 1979. There is always new blood, with plenty of contemporary Dracula and vampire comic series on the market.

It's hard to identify the first vampire appearing on television. There were surely episodes of programs with a vampire, especially cartoons. Vampira (Maila Nurmi) hosted horror films from 1954-1955 on the US west coast, while Roland (John Zacherley) did the male version in the 1950-1960s on the east coast. The Munsters aired in 1964 starring Yvonne De Carlo as vampire Lily Muster in a humorous series. Following its fangs the campy, tongue-in-cheek Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows (1966) turned vampire Barnabas Collins played by Jonathan Frid into a cult favorite. Check out Brad Middleton's book Un-Dead TV—The Ultimate Guide to Vampire Television.

Vampires have appeared in classical artwork, for example: William-Adolphe Bouguereau's Dante and Virgil in Hell (1850); Edvard Munch's Vampire (1893); Philip Burne-Jones' The Vampire (1897). Today there are thousands of vampire images on book covers, RPG, DVD covers, graphic art, outsider art, anywhere visual artists can depict sanguinarians in all their myriad forms.

Any aficionado of the Undead could spend an eternity exploring the glorified or cursed vampire that draws on the five human senses, plus ESP. This creature of our collective imagination took giant leaps as did we mortals and has spread and permeated the planet thanks to the invention of the printing press.

The most important question about the immense popularity of vampires is Why have they been and still are the most popular and ubiquitous supernaturals?

It's a good time to wonder. We are about to be inundated. Vampires are shedding their most recent persona—the YA love interest—and reincarnating once more, migrating anew to TVs, movie screens, and print (at least as thousands of eBook titles).  

We feel in vampires the weight of the eternal, and here's why.

The word Archetype has sifted through the English language since about 1540 when somebody took a Greek word and turned it into Latin. The meaning: the beginning or origin of a pattern, model or type from which copies are made.

But it was the famous psychologist Carl Jung—a proponent of creativity as a human need—who brought the word into mainstream awareness. Archetypes, he said (and I'm paraphrasing) are major energies within the collective psyche of human beings. These energies are foundations that twig with all humanity, everywhere. They float lazily around just beneath our awareness, not bothering us much, they're just there. Once in a while one will drift up to the surface and we get nervous, a little or a lot, because intuitively we don't know why this is bothering us. Usually time (and sometimes a bit of therapy) will tell.

Archetypes are not insignificant. They are big energies. For example: Mother. Whether or not you had a mother, knew your mother, loved or hated her, whether your mother was heterosexual or LBGTQ, or even if you were conceived in a test-tube, the Mother archetype in its purest form is the same for everybody. (The particulars are what makes Mother relevant for you personally.)

Oh, and one important aspect to remember: every Archetype offers both a positive and negative:

Positive Mother = Nuturing
Negative Mother = Devouring

Many of us live in a culture that doesn't quite get the idea of paradox. We're kind of an either/or society, especially these days. If you don't believe me, check out today's news. Or, subscribe to social media!

Whenever an Archetype touches our feeble human consciousness, we know it's not an ordinary day. All we can say for sure is that something is grabbing our attention. There are specifics in psychology about Archetypes you can read in: Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious by C.G. Jung.

Here are some common archetypes: Father, God, Hero, Lover and, among others...Vampire!

It's easy to get a grip on the archetypal Vampire. Here's all you have to do: Gather together all the vampires you have run across in your mortal existence and, after sunset, invite them into your room. (A daunting undertaking!)  Every vampire in oral storytelling, mythology, written records of fact, fiction and poetry, music, art, toys, games, comics, theater, puppetry, dance, cinema and television, academic papers, etc...  Now that you are trapped in a confined space with innumerable Undead, superimpose them one on top of the other. The one thing they all have in common is the archetypal vampire.

Vampires, because we invented them, are adaptable. They conform to the culture in which they are found and evolve as we do. Modern vampire were happy to shed many traditional tropes: mirrors and native soil—no problem! Ditto crosses, garlic and sunlight.

Whether we view them as violent or peaceful, withdrawn or gregarious, lovers or haters, mercenaries or heroes, despots or humanitarians, givers or takers, killers or saviors, criminals or angels, frightening or funny, victims or persecutors, teen fodder or XXX erotica, it's good to keep this in mind. Vampires are an archetypal energy within all of us. We created them in our image. They have been and always will be with us in one form or another, lurking in our collective unconscious, gearing up for their next incarnation and eager to push our buttons. This is one supernatural that used to be us, giving them a huge advantage, and it's to our detriment if we don't keep the following in mind:

Vampires are predators; we are their prey!

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