Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard 1976-1991 by Kim Newman
Published by Titan Books Ltd 2013
Synopsis: Fallen from grace and driven from the British Empire in previous installments, Dracula seems long gone. A relic of the past. Yet, when vampire boy Johnny Alucard descends upon America, stalking the streets of New York and Hollywood, haunting the lives of the rich and famous, from Sid and Nancy to Andy Warhol, Orson Welles, and Francis Ford Coppola, sinking his fangs ever deeper into the zeitgeist of 1980s America, it seems the past might not be dead after all.
Our thoughts: I didn’t realize this was an ongoing series, and even more so, a collection of stories put together to complete this volume. That being said, as I was reading it, I thought how fantastic it was that I could pick up and put down the book whenever I needed to. I kept thinking, “It’s nice to not feel as though I have to rush through this thing.” I read it over the course of 2 weeks or so, tackling a few chapters whenever I found a free moment on our long winter vacation. It was a nice break away from my usual marathon readings, and the book kept my interest from beginning to end.
So here’s the question… what if Dracula was not defeated as always thought? What if he didn’t actually die until 1959? What if vampires and humans began to “co-exist” in our modern age? And what if Dracula could find a way to come back?
This is the basis for a vampire novel unlike no other. Within its pages, we see humankind and vampire intertwine and feed off each other. We witness a young man taken by Dracula, becoming his most important “get”, and follow him as he flees Europe and climbs the ranks of social hierarchy here in the United States. Once Ion Pompescu, then Johnny Pop, and finally Johnny Alucard rips into town and makes the world his ultimate “get”.
He first appears on the set of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, filmed in 1976-1977. Wait? What? This Coppola film, starring Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, and Marlon Brando as Dracula, seems to be doomed from the start. Catastrophe after catastrophe occurs, and there is reason to believe it will never see completion. In this first section, we are also introduced to Kate Reed, an elder vampire working on the film and a central character to the rest of the story. She bring Ion Pompescu into the thick of the production, and Ion, in turn, uses her as his passage to the United States.
Ion arrives in New York, and he quickly morphs into Johnny Pop. He makes a big splash in town, hanging with Sid and Nancy, hitting all the clubs, and finally landing himself sitting across a table from none other than Andy Warhol, a known modern vampire. Here, we meet Penelope Churchwood, Lady Godalming, the 2nd of the three main female vampires in the book. Johnny creates a new street drug called Drac, and it takes the human population by storm. He builds his empire, collects tons of cash, and then hightails it out of there just before the shit hits the fan.
He lands himself in L.A., and with the money procured from Drac sales, becomes a movie producer. I am totally not kidding you. He becomes famous, rubbing noses with the hottest names in town. We meet the last of the 3 female vampires, Genevieve Dieudonne, in LaLaLand. And we meet larger-than-life Orson Welles. Yes, THE Orson Welles. Fantastic. Alucard his a plan to bring Dracula back from the dead, and he’s going to use modern media to do it.
The entire idea of this book is ridiculously delicious, with its thousand-and-one pop culture references and its use of real history mixed with fictional occurrences. Characters found in various novels are real here, and they walk this earth with us. Famous actors, writers, and novelists are now vampires and have been for some time. Dracula is real, and he’s ready to come back and continue what he started.
Johnny Alucard is a great read all around. I had a good time pulling out all the various mainstream culture phemomena. It’s like spotting Waldo over and over again. I enjoyed figuring out what was real history and what was made up (there were a few times I had to stop and google something because I just wasn’t sure). It almost becomes interactive. If you’re into that kind of thing, like I am, I highly suggest picking up this book. Enjoy!