World Dracula Day: 5 of the Count’s Best Crossovers

World Dracula Day: The Count's Best Crossovers blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo via the BBC.

Tuesday is World Dracula Day, when we celebrate the anniversary of the first publication of Bram Stoker’s vampire classic Dracula. Over the 123 years he’s been with us, The Count has encountered all sorts of other characters, some more memorable than others. Here are some of my favourite Dracula crossovers…

Dracula vs. King Arthur

World Dracula Day: The Count's Best Crossovers, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

After making a deal with Lucifer to become a vampire, Lucifer then decides to send Dracula back to Arthurian times to take over the world. Hi-jinks ensue over the course of this comic book’s four-issue run. It’s maybe not the best-executed crossover (Lucifer wants to send Dracula back in time to before vampires existed so the Count can start turning humans and spreading evil– so why send him back to the time of legendary heroes? Why not to, I don’t know, any other time in history that wasn’t legendary?), but the concept of Dracula vs. King Arthur is a good one, and Camelot fighting Dracula is a fun idea (Merlin as sinister anti-hero doesn’t hurt, either).

Dracula vs. Frankenstein

World Dracula Day: The Count's Best Crossovers blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

As two of the most popular monsters, it’s no surprise that Dracula has faced off against Frankenstein*. In fact, the two have met many times over the years in movies like Dracula vs. Frankenstein and Les expériences érotiques de Frankenstein (ooh la la); pulp novels like Frankenstein Meets Dracula; and comic books, including The Frankenstein-Dracula War and A Story of Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein, which came with a corresponding LP so you could listen to the story as you looked through the book. Whether you root for the undead or the reanimated, these stories have you covered.

*Yes, Frankenstein is the doctor, not the monster. It’s been 202 years of people calling the monster Frankenstein– can we just accept it?

Dracula vs. Zorro

World Dracula Day: The Count's Best Crossovers, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Zorro and Dracula meet on a ship heading to Europe and become instant enemies. Although it’s hate at first sight, the fight doesn’t get serious until they meet up in the catacombs of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (as one does). As a fan of both Zorro and the Count I’m not sure who to root for in this mashup, although I am slightly disappointed that (spoiler) Dracula doesn’t turn Zorro. Now that would be an interesting story…

Dracula vs. Sherlock Holmes

World Dracula Day: The Count's Best Crossovers, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

I don’t know why I was surprised that Dracula has met up with Sherlock Holmes, but he has– and numerous times, too. I haven’t seen or read any of the existing versions (yet), but there’s one Dracula/Sherlock crossover I would love to see, and that’s one put together by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, creators of the BBC’s Sherlock and Dracula (2020). It’s true I didn’t really enjoy their Dracula miniseries earlier this year, and the last season of Sherlock left a lot to be desired, but if the two of them were inspired and brought their A game, they could make a crossover for the ages with their versions of these characters. Dare we hope?

Dracula vs. Batman

World Dracula Day: The Count's Best Crossovers, blog post via Aspasia S. Bissas

It’s definitely worth seeking out the animated The Batman vs. Dracula if you’re a fan of either character. Based on The Batman TV series, the story brings Dracula to Gotham, while also featuring some of the typical characters you’d expect, like Penguin and Joker. The movie touches on the influence of Dracula on Batman, which I appreciate. The animation is fantastic, especially for Dracula and the other vampires. I actually reviewed this movie years ago on my other blog, if you feel like taking a look (I have since come to appreciate Dracula more as a character). I don’t think there are any plans for a sequel, but I would love to see more Dracula-Batman stories.

There are other great Dracula crossovers, but I’m going to save those for another post. In the meantime, which is your favourite (including those not mentioned here)? Who would you like to see Dracula go up against? Share in the comments…

Happy Dracula Day!

Aspasía S. Bissas

Aspasia S. Bissas's books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw
Want to read about vampires that aren’t Dracula? Download my books FREE…

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If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

11 Awesome Literary Embroideries

11 Awesome Literary Embroideries, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge fan of embroidery (AKA needlepoint, although it’s not quite the same thing). It’s not only that I find the results visually appealing, but it’s one of my favourite pastimes, as well. I was taught tapestry needlepoint when I was five, after which I forgot about it until I was a stressed university student and decided to take it up again. I’ve since tried other types of embroidery, including cross stitch, but tapestry is still my favourite; I’ve completed at least a couple of dozen over the years.

It occurred to me that embroidery and writing have a lot in common. In both cases you put together small units (stitches/words) in a precise and harmonious way over the course of weeks and months (sometimes years) until you’ve created a completed piece that tells a story. I also get a similar sense of satisfaction when I’ve completed an embroidery as I do when I’ve finished a story. Maybe needlepoint and writing activate similar parts of the brain. Then again, maybe it’s just me.

Whatever the case, books have definitely provided all kinds of inspiration for the embroiderers of the world. I thought I’d share some of the best literary-themed embroidery I’ve found. Are you a fan of embroidery/needlepoint? Share in the comments…

 

My first choice has a cute design, good colours, and a message you can’t argue with 🙂

11 Awesome Literary Embroideries, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

 

This next piece came from an article on embroidered book covers. Check it out to see some other gorgeous works (although this one is my favourite).

11 Awesome Literary Embroideries, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

 

For those who prefer a pattern, there’s also this classic cover in cross-stitch…

11 Awesome Literary Embroideries, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Found on Etsy

 

I couldn’t decide between these two Shakespearean cross-stitch pieces, so I’m sharing both. The first is a quote from “As You Like It,” and features what could basically be my personal coat-of-arms (books, comfy chair, cat, coffee/tea). The second is stage directions from “The Winter’s Tale,” and is just funny.

11 Awesome Literary Embroideries, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Found on Etsy
11 Awesome Literary Embroideries, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Pattern found here.
exit pursued by a bear completed, literary embroidery by aspasia s. bissas
This completed piece was shared by a buyer on Etsy.

 

O.M.G. I don’t think I could find a better bookmark than this cross-stitch mashup of book culture and pop culture…

oh my god becky, literary embroidery by aspasia s. bissas
From an article on subversive cross-stitch.

 

I love this tapestry portrait of Virginia Woolf (although I could do without the cigarette, and really, a pen would have made more sense).

virginia woolf tapestry, literary embroidery by Aspasia S. Bissas
Found here.

 

A character portrait is also a good option…

jane eyre, literary embroidery by aspasia s. bissas
Found via Etsy

 

Cats, books, colour– what more could you ask? And this looks like it would be a lot of fun to work on.

books and cats needlepoint, literary embroidery by aspasia s. bissas
Found here.

 

I love this updated take on the needlepoint classic of pink roses on a black background. And it’s always good to be honest 😉

i will read books and ignore you, literary needlepoint by aspasia s. bissas
Found here.

 

Lastly, this cross-stitch that honours my favourite genre…

fantasy genre needlepoint, literary embroidery by aspasia s. bissas
Found here.

 

Aspasia S. Bissas's books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw
Delve further into the (dark) fantasy genre– download my books FREE

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

5 More Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

5 More Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Chances are when you think of vampires you’ll think of Eric Northman, Drusilla, Barnabas Collins, or any of the other fanged creatures-of-the-night that populate modern culture, including Mara from Love Lies Bleeding. The vampires we’re familiar with are (generally) human looking, powerful, often charismatic and attractive, with a thirst for blood and a dislike of stakes. But that wasn’t always the case. History and folklore are full of vampires that are nothing like what we’ve come to expect. Here are five examples…

Vetala

5 More Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo via https://detechter.com/three-famous-vampires-in-india/

Also known as vetaal or baital, the vetala is a blood-drinking demon in Hindu mythology that haunts burial grounds and crematoria, hangs upside down (like a bat) from trees, and possesses dead (or occasionally living) humans or animals. Not unlike the vampires on Buffy, the demon sets up shop in the body it’s possessing, while the original soul that inhabited said body is “completely gone.” Unlike the vampires of Buffy, the vetala retains none of the memories of the person it’s possessing. As well, destroying the body doesn’t destroy the demon, which simply moves on to the next handy body. Vetala are chaotic, revelling in the damage they cause, including driving people insane and killing children. Interestingly, some vetala are not evil; there’s even a Disney Channel series in India where a harmless vetala is friends with a boy. It’s also possible that Bram Stoker was inspired by tales of vetala before he wrote Dracula.

Revenant

5 More Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Dylan Sauerwein on Unsplash

There’s some debate about what revenants actually are. It has been argued that they are a type of vampire, zombies, or simply generic undead. Since the word itself means “one who returns,” it could refer to anything from a ghost to (technically) someone coming back from a long trip. Augustin Calmet wrote in the 18th century that revenants were created by sorcerers “who sucked the blood of victims.” Most historical accounts agreed that revenants are caused by the restless spirits of wicked people re-animating their corpses. Whatever a revenant is, stories show a number of similarities with classic vampires, from their bodies being swollen with blood (usually from gorging on it); to only being able to move about at night; to needing their heads and/or hearts removed and destroyed in order to finally stop them. Illness and death almost always follow in a revenant’s wake. While vampires are said to require blood as sustenance, a revenant doesn’t need the blood it consumes. Another difference is that revenants, unlike vampires, decompose.

Draugr

5 More Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Draugr (or draug, pl. draugur, AKA aptrganga) is essentially a Norse revenant. Unlike other revenants, draugur can increase their size at will, are motivated by treasure (as well as revenge and the general desire to do damage), and are not affected by sunlight (although they prefer the dark). Draugur have magical abilities and can shape shift (one form they were known to take was a cat that would sit on a sleeping person’s chest, getting steadily heavier until the victim suffocated). They can also rise from their graves as wisps of smoke or pass through solid rock. Draugur can enter the dreams of the living, leaving a “gift” as assurance that they were really there. Draugur kill their victims (both human and animal) by draining their blood, but can also kill by crushing, devouring, or driving their victims mad. They were also thought to run animals to death by chasing or riding them. They can be killed via burning, dismemberment, destruction of the body, or simply by eventual decay.

Izcacus

5 More Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Illustration by Mexicankaiju on DeviantArt

(AKA Aizhakos) A pagan shaman on trial during the Hungarian Inquisition described a demon called Izcacus (meaning blood drinker), which could be called forth to destroy the enemies of the pagans. The name has ancient Turkish roots, and may have been originally spread by migrating tribes who were themselves influenced by the Assyrians. Specific information on the Izcacus is hard to find, but if it does have roots in Assyrian vampire beliefs, it could (like other Assyrian vampires) be a violent, merciless spirit or demon that devours its victims’ blood and flesh.

Guaxa

5 More Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Image source (and I believe this is the artist).

Originating in Spain, the guaxa (AKA guaja or guajona) is an ancient vampire resembling an old hag (think stereotypical witch) with bright eyes and bird legs (any relation to Baba Yaga?) She sucks blood (preferably from children) with her single long tooth/fang. The guaxa sneaks into homes at night through keyholes and chimneys, and slowly drains victims over the course of weeks, causing them to waste away. Unlike most vampires, they are born, not turned. One source claims that the guaxa’s weaknesses include silver, antlers, running water, and magical amulets, but I couldn’t find any corroborating sources, so it may not be accurate.

Have you heard of these vampires? Which do you think is scariest? Tell me in the comments…

Edit: I forgot to add the link to my original post, 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. Enjoy 🙂

Aspasia S. Bissas's books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw
Get more vampires right now– download my books FREE!

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

Further Reading

Three Famous Vampires in India

Vetala Indo-European Vampire

Wikipedia: Revenant

Mythology.net: Revenant

Wikipedia: Draugr

Vampire Underworld: Draugr

Vampire Folklore by Region

Monsters from Mesopotamia

La Guaxa Es La Vampiresa Asturiana

Wikipedia: Guajona

The Monster Blog of Monsters: Guajona

 

 

 

 

Dracula 2020

Dracula! Blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Have you had a chance yet to watch the new Netflix/BBC Dracula? I was pretty excited to watch it, especially given the involvement of Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. These two have done some amazing work on shows like Sherlock and Doctor Who (Moffat in particular is responsible for some of the best episodes of Doctor Who, ever, and is the writer of the brilliant episode “Blink,” which introduced the nightmare-inducing Weeping Angels).

So, yes, excited for Dracula.

And it was…meh. Some great moments that didn’t seem to go anywhere. Weird pacing. Pointless scenes. And I wasn’t enthralled by Claes Bang’s portrayal of the Count. I mean it was okay, but just okay…much like the rest of the show.

As a reminder of how scary (and fun) Dracula can be, here are some of my favourite portrayals of this most classic of all vampires…

I have to start with the original, Stoker’s Count. Although Stoker wasn’t the first to write about vampires, his character (and book) started an ongoing obsession with vampires, inspiring countless variations over the decades. Many of what we now consider essential characteristics of vampires: aversion to sunlight and garlic, lack of reflection, supernatural powers, vulnerable to a stake through the heart– all came from Dracula. A few have been discarded over the years too– how many modern vampires have hairy palms or need to keep the soil of their homeland handy? If you’re a vampire fan and you haven’t read Dracula yet–drop everything and get yourself a copy.

dracula

Nosferatu is an early, unauthorized, movie based on Dracula. The names were changed (Dracula became Count Orlok, for example) but that wasn’t enough to keep Stoker’s widow from suing (and eventually giving up after the film company went bankrupt and copies of the movie got out anyway). You can’t beat Nosferatu, or Max Schreck’s Count, for atmosphere, dramatic visuals, and general creepiness.

orlok
Count Orlok, Nosferatu

Although Bela Lugosi may be the definitive Count Dracula (and no one is disputing that he did a great job), Christopher Lee gets my vote for best film Dracula. Imposing and intense, it’s hard not to agree that Lee is pretty awesome in this role (I’m not sure he really needs hypnotic powers– he’d do fine all on his own).

I have to admit I’m not a fan of Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (although after watching Gatiss and Moffat’s version, Coppola’s ranks a little higher now), but I do enjoy Gary Oldman’s performance in it. He seems to embrace the character, especially when he surreptitiously licks Harker’s bloody razor, which is my favourite moment of the entire film:

Here’s the entire scene if you want some context:

One of my absolute favourite portrayals of Dracula is in Buffy in the episode “Buffy vs. Dracula.” It’s a great episode overall (who doesn’t love Xander as Renfield?) and Rudolf Martin does a fantastic job as Dracula. Aside from the show, Dracula makes an appearance in several Buffyverse comic books (scroll down the link to “Appearances” for the full list). It’s well worth tracking them down (if for no other reason than to find out whether Spike ever gets the eleven pounds Dracula owes him).

buffy dracula

And lastly (on what is by no means a comprehensive list), what’s not to like about Community’s Troy attempting to put together a cool Halloween costume by becoming a “sexy Dracula”? 😉

What did you think of Netflix’s Dracula? Who’s your favourite version of the Count?  Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Happy New Year (+ 10 Things to Leave Behind as We Move Forward)!

Happy New Year (+ 10 Things to Leave Behind in the New Decade) blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Let me start by wishing everyone the very best in the new year and new decade!

The 2010s seemed to drag by, especially these past couple of years. To be honest, the last decade wasn’t a good one for me. Although some great things happened, I also lost my mom. Longtime friendships ended for no good reason. Things I’d been counting on working out, didn’t. Things I’d been hoping would happen never did. My much-loved car got totalled. And, oh yeah, my house was destroyed (sadly, I’m not being melodramatic– thank you, ice storm of 2013).

But all of that is in the past now and I feel a change in the air. Things are about to get good.

Happy New Year (+ 10 Things to Leave Behind in the New Decade) blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

As we look ahead to a (hopefully) brighter future, I’ve put together a quick list of things we all need to leave behind as we start a brand new decade…

  1. Regrets. Unless you’ve got a time machine and can go back and change things, let go of ‘what ifs’ and ‘should’ve dones.’ On the other hand, if there’s something you can still do– go for it. It’s never too late.
  2. Facebook. There are many reasons to quit Facebook (this article goes into some of them). Although the site is helpful in promoting my books, I’m seriously thinking of leaving (or at least shifting my focus to other social media sites).
  3. Outdated thinking. When the wheel was invented, there were undoubtedly people who didn’t see the point of the new invention; those people quickly got left behind (where they were probably picked off by sabre-toothed tigers). Things change, including the way the world thinks. It’s time to reconsider the beliefs we hold on to that are holding us back.
  4. The myth that working hard = success. People who have done well in life like to claim that hard work is what got them there. If you look closely, though, what you’ll find is that they actually owe their success to good connections, plenty of help, and a lot of luck. I mean a lot. Hard work might help you maintain it, but if all you needed to succeed was to work hard, the 1% and the 99% would have switched places a long time ago.
  5. The idea that there’s only one way to live. There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to life. What works for you won’t necessarily work for anyone else (and vice versa).
  6. Conspiracies. You haven’t discovered mind-blowing super secret knowledge that everyone else is too blind/asleep/indoctrinated to see– you’re just delusional. Bonus fact: real evidence isn’t found on the internet.
  7. Cats vs dogs. This isn’t a thing. All animals are awesome.
  8. Anything vs anything else. We create artificial divisions to give us a false sense of belonging and it’s stupid. We’re all in this together: it’s time we started acting like it instead of going out of our way to create problems. We don’t have to be identical to get along and work together.
  9. Plastic. The entire planet is choking on the stuff, and recycling isn’t working. There are more and more alternatives to plastic every day, including products made of green materials, and products that come in plastic-free (or no) packaging. Seek those out.
  10. Bizarre humanoid singing-and-dancing CGI cat creatures. Let’s all just pretend that never happened, shall we?

What do you think– anything to add to the list? Share in the comments. All the best in 2020!

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Happy New Year (+ 10 Things to Leave Behind in the New Decade!) blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com