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Literature’s First Vampire Receives Graphic Novel by Dark Horse

By Malachi Martin


Dark Horse Comics’ imprint Berger Books has recently announced its plans to publish an upcoming graphic novel, Carmilla: The First Vampire. Based on literature’s first vampire, the graphic novel will be written by Amy Chu (Poison Ivy: Cycles of Life and Death) and illustrated by Soo Lee (Ash & Thorn).


Irish author Sheridan Le Fanu wrote the original novella in 1872. It follows a young woman preyed upon by a female vampire, Carmilla, who falls in love with her female victims before feeding on them. Carmilla predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula by more than a quarter of a century and is regarded as the first vampire in fiction, as well as one of the first LGBTQ+ vampires and a precursor of the “lesbian vampire” trope.


Berger Books’ graphic novel is confirmed to be a reimagining of the original novella and takes place in New York City in 1996. The official synopsis reveals:

A period murder mystery set in 1996, Carmilla: The First Vampire follows a Chinese American social worker as she tries to track down the truth behind a series of murders of homeless LGBTQ+ women – a trail that leads to a new nightclub in the heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown district called Carmilla’s. There, she meets Violet – a woman who might be the next target of the killer.”


“Everyone is familiar with Dracula, but few know [vampires in pop culture] were also inspired by the vampire Carmilla, who fell in love with the many young women who became her victims,” said Amy Chu to Popverse when discussing the importance of Carmilla for vampire fiction. Chu continued: “bringing the story to ‘90s New York let me explore the themes of gender identity, gentrification, homophobia and racism.” and she referred to the material as the darkest she had ever written.


“Goth, horror and vampires make up the classic backdrop to ‘90s New York. Using the colourful ambience of the city and cultural references, Amy and I bring back to life an old NYC that I know and love,” said illustrator Soo Lee about the graphic novel.


Former Vertigo executive editor and current founder and overseer of Berger Books, Karen Berger added: “not only is Carmilla a mesmerising, steamy and decadent thriller, but Amy and Soo have delivered a story with important cultural themes which resonate in today’s antagonising times.”


Carmilla: The First Vampire is set to be released on 11 January 2023 in comic bookshops and on 24 January in bookshops.

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