Sunday, April 22, 2018



In going through my files, I have started coming across a variety of pitches I sent to publishers over the years. Some date back to before I start working in comics professionally. I thought my bloggy readers might enjoy seeing these concepts that didn’t go any further than my initial pitches. Since “never say never” is kind of a mantra of mine, I won’t entirely rule out by revisiting them in the future, but, for now, I have no plans for them.

COUNT VARGA, VAMPIRE was an idea I pitched to my dear friend Larry Lieber during the brief existence of Atlas Comics in the 1970s. I loved working with Larry, but, alas, both Atlas and my time in New York came to a close before the end of 1976.

Here’s the pitch, which was written in 1974:

One of Marvel’s most successful books is TOMB OF DRACULA. One of the more successful monster movies of late was a film called COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE, featuring a modern-day blood-stalker on the loose in Los Angeles.


Count Varga is at once a traditional vampire and a departure from  previous depictions of the vampire. He’s a very modern-day vampire. While Marvel’s Dracula looks archaic despite its modern setting, Count Yorga will be set in downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Hollywood and other 1974 locales.

Count Varga is a youngish vampire, between 25-30 years old. An American, he becomes inflicted with the curse of the vampire while visiting his ancestral home in Transylvania. His greedy purpose in visiting the site was to prove his claim on the ancient family fortunes, having squandered away a similar fortune in the United States. He’s bitten, dies and returns as a vampire. But he is not at all displeased with this.

Varga sees his vampiric condition as a chance to gain greater power and wealth than he’d ever thought possible. He plans to use his powers towards this end.

That’s the departure. As for tradition:
Like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Varga will be able to appear during the day. He just doesn’t have his powers during the daylight hours. He’ll have all the traditional powers of the vampire during the night, including several Dracula doesn’t use over at Marvel. Such as the ability to become a rat or a wolf, control of the elements, etc. In short, he’ll be more than a match for the world he will be plotting to conquer.

As far as supporting characters go, we’ll have a variety of people in exciting professions to choose from. California is full of cool jobs and cool people. I would think our Count would have several regularly featured servants and friends. Maybe some of his friends would not know he’s a vampire. These can be created when we begin actual work on the series.

Protagonists for Count Varga?

I can think of several. A detective investigating some vampire-inflicted deaths. A cult of witches who oppose Varga because they want to gain power themselves. A reporter snooping into Varga’s past. And so on.

With the right artist and mood, we can have a top-seller.
My hazy memory is that I wrote the above pitch and then brought it to Larry. We spent a couple late hours in the Atlas offices during that period. Sometimes I’d help him with cover copy. Sometimes we would talk over ideas and Larry would sketch them out. He drew the Count Varga sketch shown above.

Though Count Varga is clearly derivative, that was something comics publishers always looked for. Few of them wanted to be the first to publish a successful concept. They wanted to be the second. A year later, while I was at DC, I sold the company on several new titles by framing them as “DC’s version of fill in name of Marvel title." I didn't stick around DC long enough to do them for reasons you can probably figure out.

In the case of Varga, I was a great admirer of Marv Wolfman’s work on Tomb of Dracula. I had written some Dracula stories for Dracula Lives! I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could hold my own working Marv’s side of the street.

I own Count Varga, Vampire. Maybe I’ll...excuse me...revamp him for another shot at the big time someday. Only time will tell.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff, but I have no idea what that stuff will be. I’ve got several bloggy things in the works and it will depend on which is closest to completion. But, whatever shows up here, I hope you’ll stop by to check it out.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

No comments:

Post a Comment