Friday, January 29, 2010

Support the Cause

Brian's article, which I discussed (well, ranted about) in "Blogging Ethics" has obviously been inspirational to others, too.

Pax Romano, of Billy Loves Stu, has taken the initiative to form a "Union of Independent Horror Bloggers".

Thing is, I don't consider this to be a horror blog, per se. I mean, sure I cover vampires (obviously), but not from such that perspective. And, as I mentioned, this isn't really a movie review blog, but a catchment of my random musings on the undead.

So, if it wasn't for that, I'd gladly be a card-carrying member.

Nonetheless, if you happen to be a horror blogger, I strongly suggest you get behind the cause.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Real Books

Last Thursday, these beauties arrived in the mail from this seller:

Nancy Garden's Vampires (1973)

Donald F. Glut's True Vampires of History (1971)

The first book was one of the early ventures into vampire non-fiction for kids and the second is a compilation of "true" vampire cases, for the paranormally inclined, arranged in chronological order.

And, I already have copies of both.

So why did I buy 'em?

The copy of Garden's book that I already owned is a 1979 Bantam Skylark reprint and in the last coupla years, I've become a stickler for first editions. Or, at the very least, first editions published in the same year and by the same publisher.

They're much prettier to cite and things can get lost along the way when they're reprinted.

For the record, Garden's first edition was published in Philadelphia and New York by J. B. Lippincott Company. The book I have is its fourth printing.

As to Glut's book, the copy I have is a bibliographic nightmare. Its title page lists it as being "An Official Publication of HC Publishers, Inc.," but lower down, says that it's "A Castle Books, Inc. Edition" "Distributed To The Trade" "By Book Sales, Inc."

No place of publication is given, except page 2 reveals it was "Printed in U.S.A."

My copy also had no dust jacket.

So, when I saw this copy on eBay, I couldn't resist, especially as it was listed as a first edition. However, when I turned to the title page, what did I see?

Yep, the same blasted publication info!

So, essentially, I paid for...a dust jacket! D'oh!

The dust jacket, however, does reveal a place of publication, at least: Secaucus, New Jersey. Of course, this is for Castle Books, not H. C. Publishers. Which, of course, means that the original edition is floating about somewhere out there.

Gonna have to chase it up.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fake Books

Having trouble finding Henry Gray's Anatomy of the Vampire or Vesalius' Five Books on the Structure of the Vampire Body?

Well, stop your searching. They don't exist.

Their origins aren't in history, but from "The Science of Vampires - Part II" article from The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency website.

How do I know they're fake?

For starters, check out the FVZA's disclaimer on its homepage:
This site is is fictional and is for entertainment purposes only. We are not affiliated with the U.S. Government in any way. Under no cirumstances are you to harm anyone based on information from this site.
Second, the book titles are obvious riffs on better-known (and real) books.

Henry Gray (1827-1861) was the author of Henry Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body (1858), commonly shortened to Gray's Anatomy. Yes, that's where the TV show derived its name.

Meanwhile, [Andreas] Vesalius (1514-1564) is best known for De humani corporis fabrica libri septem (1543) a.k.a. "The Seven Books on the Structure of the Human Body".

Another fake work that appears on the site is Ludovico Fatinelli's Treatise on Vampires (1616).

This time, we have a case of not only a fake book, but a fake author, too.

A reference to his fake work even appears in Wikipedia's "Vlad III the Impaler" page:
A veritable epidemic of vampirism swept through Eastern Europe beginning in the late 17th century and continuing through the 1700s. The number of reported cases rose dramatically in Hungary and the Balkans. From the Balkans, the "plague" spread westward into Germany, Italy, France, England, and Spain. Travelers returning from the Balkans brought with them tales of the undead, igniting an interest in the vampire that has continued to this day. Philosophers in the West began to study the phenomenon. It was during this period that Ludovico Fatinelli wrote his famous treatise on vampirism in Hungary. It was also during this period that authors and playwrights first began to explore the vampire legend.
I mean, come on. The FVZA's Fatinelli article even credits him with paving "the way for important work by scientists like the Englishman Edward Jenner, who created the first vaccine in 1795."

Surely that should be a giveaway.

You'd be hard-pressed to find Edward Jenner (1749-1823) giving credit to his research into smallpox vaccine to an imaginary Italian scientist!

Q & A with Martin V. Riccardo, Part 2

Continued from here:
AH: You wrote the first multimedia vampire bibliography in 1983, Vampires Unearthed. Considering the dearth of works that have appeared since then, would you consider publishing an updated edition?

MVR: Since the Internet now offers an overabundance of information on any subject, I have not felt any need to put out an updated version. My friend J. Gordon Melton has also done a magnificent job in providing vampire bibliographies and filmographies in the body of his books and their appendicies.

AH: In light of your bibliographic background, what works do you recommend as essential for anyone with an interest in vampire studies and why?

MVR: The one book I have found most useful in my study of vampires is The Vampire in Europe by Montague Summers. First published in 1929, it has been reprinted in recent decades sometimes with a different title.

From his extensive research in the library of the British Museum, Summers assembled every recorded account of vampires he could find in old European stories and folklore. This book provides a good overview of how the vampire was originally perceived by those who actually believed that this creature existed.

AH: Your most recent book-length work was 1996's Liquid Dreams of Vampires. Why are there such large gaps between your books? As to its topic, what was it about vampire dreams that you hoped to find out? What is the significance of dreaming about vampires?

MVR: When I write and article or book, it is simply because I have something to say or an opportunity to share something. There may be periods when there is nothing I want to get across.

In some ways, Liquid Dreams of Vampires was my magnum opus. It gave me the opportunity to explore the many dimensions of the vampire that people are attracted to. Using the dreams and fantasies that people sent me, it became quite easy to connect the dots.

In many ways the appeal of the vampire is on a subconscious level, and dreams afford an opportunity to access these inner subconscious drives and motivations. As I say in the book, "Vampires are the stuff that dreams are made of."

AH: Why do you think Meyer's Twilight series has enjoyed such an unprecedented level of popularity? Many other vampire-teen-romance novels were published previously, so why did hers take off? Do you think its success will push vampire scholarship into the mainstream?

MVR: I doubt if anyone knows why one author is able to touch a chord in millions of readers. One aspect is characters that people relate to, another is good writing and interesting stories.

When Bela Lugosi played Dracula in the 1930 Universal film, that created a wave of interest in vampires that continues to this day.

The vampire novels of Anne Rice also had massive popularity. In future years something else will surpass the Twilight craze. The dark archetype of the vampire will always find new expressions that tap into repressed human longing and desire.

College level courses on vampires have been around for decades, and will continue to grow. I believe that vampire scholarship has been in the mainstream for some time. Vampires are out of the coffin, and there is no way to push them back in.
I'd like to take the time to thank Martin for his generous contribution to this blog. You can read some more about his background in vampire and paranormal studies here.

There's also a MySpace group (non-affiliated) dedicated to him, which you can join.

Q & A with Martin V. Riccardo, Part 1

Welcome to the second installment of "Q & A". My first guest was Danish vampirologist, Niels K. Petersen (Part 1 and Part 2).

This time around, we have Martin V. Riccardo, founder of Vampire Studies and author of Lure of the Vampire, Vampires Unearthed: The Complete Multi-Media Vampire and Dracula Bibliography (both 1983) and Liquid Dreams of Vampires (1996).

I presented my questions to him by e-mail ("Possible Interview", Friday, 22 January 2010 2:39:04 AM) and his response ("Re: Possible Interview", Sunday, 24 January 2010 8:25:52 PM) forms the basis of this interview.

I should point out that the questions were originally numbered, but I have changed them to names, i.e., "1." becomes "Anthony Hogg", etc. That's a format I'll continue to use for future interviews.

Also, due to formatting issues with the e-mail, I've had to insert paragraph breaks myself.

Lastly, he provided a correction ("Interview correction", Monday, 25 January 2010 4:51:29 AM) to one of his responses concerning the publication date of Sumners' The Vampire in Europe (1929), which I've edited into the interview.

Due to length, this interview will also be split into two parts.

Martin V. Riccardo
(Photo: "Bitten!: Chicago-Area Vampire Enthusiasts", Chicago Magazine)

Anthony Hogg: How did your interest in vampires start? What's their appeal to you?

Martin V. Riccardo: I loved monster movies when I was a kid, but vampires did not really appeal to me then. In the old Universal films they often just seemed to be standing around posing rather than actually doing anything.

When I was in college I heard a lecture on vampires by Leonard Wolf, author of the book A Dream of Dracula. He discussed the strange appeal of the vampire that manifested itself in popular media. Around the same time I saw the Christopher Lee film Dracula Has Risen from the Grave in which the Count is much more dynamic and physically powerful than the older films I was used to.

From these influences, I became intrigued with the vampire image. Over time I have learned that there are many aspects of the vampire that appeal to people, but the element that attracted me most at the time was that this creature was an outcast and outsider who was shunned by the world of the living.

AH: In 1977, you founded the Vampire Studies Society. What was its intent and purpose? How did it differ from existing fan clubs, like the Count Dracula Fan Club?

MVR: I have always had a strong interest in the paranormal. As a result, the Vampire Studies Society had a special interest in collecting true stories of vampire encounters and other otherworldly attacks. However, there was also an interest in everything related to vampires, including fiction, film, and television. In that regard it was quite similar to the Count Dracula Fan Club.

AH: The Society produced the Journal of Vampirism, which ran from 1977-1979. Why did it have such a limited run?

MVR: I believe the Journal of Vampirism was the first periodical that focused on the subject of vampires. The Journal came out during one of the major surges of popular interest in vampires, when Frank Langella was getting attention in his portrayal of Dracula on Broadway and in his new Universal film version of Dracula.

When that particular surge died down, there was no longer enough popular support for me to keep up the publication.

AH: In 1990, "Society" was dropped from the organisation's title. Why was that move made? Is Vampire Studies still operational today, and if so, in what capacity?

MVR: I decided that it no longer served a purpose as a membership organization. Vampire Studies now functions as an information clearing house in which individuals can contact me with questions on the subject.

It is not intended to compete with all the instant information on the Internet. People can email me if they choose to, but most inquiries are still sent to my mailing address: Martin Riccardo, Vampire Studies, P.O. Box 151, Berwyn, IL 60402 U.S.A.
To be continued...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Blogging Ethics

Brian Solomon wrote a great piece on the ethics concerning bloggers and promotional material sent along to them for review.

I confess that some of my posts have made use of such material.

What'll happen is, a publicist of some sort will send me an e-mail promoting the product they're trying to sell/promote. If I consider it interesting or relevant to this blog, then I'll incorporate it into a post.

Here's the posts that have used such promotional sources and why I wrote about them. I should also point out, that in all posts, the source of the info was disclosed:
Blog Entry: "Vampires on Telly"
Product: Stephenie Meyer's appearance on Oprah.
Why'd I Mention It? Simple, really. I found the idea of a vampire fiction author's appearance on one of TVs most successful shows (ever), to be an incredible step in the mainstreaming of vampires.

Blog Entry: "For Twilight Fans with a Sense of Humour"
Product: "Emo Vampire" music parody.
Why'd I Mention It? The sentiment expressed in the song appealed to me. Yeah, I'm one of those "what happened to evil vampires?" types. I admit it. Not that I've done much to hide this attitude, mind you! Check out my Amazon review of F. Paul Wilson's Midnight Mass. To balance things out a bit, though, I gave coverage to the de-romanticisation of vampires, which, in a roundabout way, is romanticisation in itself. Anti-romanticising, that is.

Blog Entry: "Free Plug!"
Product: A new webseries by Ti West, called Dead & Lonely.
Why'd I Mention It? Two reasons: 1) the courtesy of the promotor and 2) Ti West. As I mentioned in the blog entry, he's the mind behind The Roost (2005), a flick I've been hanging out to see. I wrote about it to see if anyone would be interested in checking it out. I didn't.

Blog Entry: "Contributing Elsewhere"
Product: Vampire-themed "Haunted House" event in New York.
Why'd I Mention It? It combined vampires and Hallowe'en. Perfect! As I mentioned, I was actually offered to visit the place itself. This was somewhat prohibitive, as I live on the other side of the world.
Off the top of my head, those are the only ones I can recall.

I've also received promotional e-mails from other sources, most notably, The Weird World of Wibbell. They've got a film out called The Vampires of Bloody Island.

The problem is a) it looks incredibly amateur, b) this isn't a movie review blog.

I've made one notable exception, but mainly because I was discussing the film as an adaptation of Stoker's novel, as well as its impact on vampire movie history.

I doubt Bloody Island could claim the same level of critical status.

Nonetheless, if you wanna read about the film, I'm happy to forward you along to Andrew's review.

Other than that, I should clearly state that I'm not interested in being used as a promotional mouthpiece.

I can certainly appreciate the efforts undertaken in promoting a movie or other media. It's no easy feat. But I'm not gonna be a publicity sock puppet, either.

We do raise a teeny bit of a dilemma, here. I recognise that. After all, where does one draw the line on promotion? Don't I promote things? Don't I point to things on sale?

Sure I do. But that's cos they fit in with the purpose of this blog, that is, to entertain, share resources and knowledge I've gleaned in the field. No one's telling me to do it, or making subtle "suggestions".

You'll note that there's no ads incorporated into this blog, either. That was a deliberate move on my part. After all, as fellow Bloggers would know, there's an AdSense function one could make use of. Sure, I considered it. Came mighty close. But, I thought I might lose some integrity along the way. Not to mention that they ain't exactly aesthetically pleasing.

That said, I've got no issue with Bloggers who do use it. If they wanna make money off their blog, by all means! Nothing wrong with making a living - or getting some spare change - from your writings.

I should also point out that I'm certainly receptive to readers sending me items of interest. Sometimes, I might incorporate them into a blog entry. Take the articles sent to me by Martin V. Riccardo (as mentioned in "Localised Vampire Interest"). He didn't send them to me to promote anything, they just caught his fancy. They're news articles, after all.

But when we've got something as overt as a forwarded press release (I'm looking at you, Wibbell!), then clearly a line has been crossed. We're talking spam tactics here, people.

And dammit, I hate spam!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Verdict on the Ryan Murder

Got an update on the case covered in "Real-Life Freaks".

A court ruling's been made and the result might surprise you.

The connection to vampires is somewhat tenuous. The article mentions the subculture the murder victim - and the suspects - were affiliated with:
Throughout the trial, which began in October, prosecutors alleged the two used a cyberspace alter-ego to communicate with Ms Ryan and she proceeded to fall in love with the boy who was a member of the "emo" subculture.
Of course, the vampire angle has been touched on with this case, due to the name of the site the trio came into contact with each other:

Taking the Sparkle Out of Twilight

Ellen Donahue and Lane Bennett wrote an interesting little review called, "Real Vampires Don't Sparkle". Yeah, you can probably guess what the book is. Here's an excerpt:
From page 376-451 there is almost a plot. The “bad vampires” (you know, the vampires who actually feed off of human blood. We know, it’s shocking, how could they?) show up and decide that Bella is just so amazing that they simply must feed from her. This naturally upsets Edward and his family, but the problem is quickly ridden of and Bella and Edward can go back to staring at each other.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Buffy Disciplines

Even though I taped most of its episode on VHS (remember video cassettes, kids?), I was never really a huge Buffy fan. I just used it for my vampire fix.

Nonetheless, it's impressive to see what an incredible body of academia it's generated.

David Lavery's " 'I Wrote My Thesis on You!': Buffy Studies as an Academic Cult" for Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 13-14 (October 2004), managed to isolate fifty "disciplines, methods, and/or approaches" in the field.

Imagine how this could be applied to vampirology itself. The mind boggles.

Anyway, if you're interested, check out the rest of the journal's articles via its archive.

De-Romanticising the Vampire

Well, it looks like my jubilation over the Fright Night remake being canned, was a tad redundant.

As recent news from reveals, it looks like it's going full steam ahead. Even if they're only at first draft screenplay level.

However, there's an undercurrent to the article which conveys a backlash against the "romantic vampire" genre. It's even seeped into the current premise of the movie. Producer Mike De Luca elaborates:
You know, what about this idea is relevant to today and what could be done better than it was…maybe not better but different and different in a way that makes it exciting. And with Fright Night, again, going back to the vampire thing, with all the romantic vampire stuff going on with The Vampire Diaries and True Blood and Twilight, the most obvious. We thought it would be interesting if, in this atmosphere of the way the vampire is being portrayed right now as a romantic object, under the wire of all that in the culture the real thing moves in next door. And the real thing is a killer. Just a predator. It’s the shark from Jaws. On the outside it’s a seductive package and it looks like a human being, but it’s just about ripping your throat out and drinking your blood.
There's echoes of this attitude in Blade: Trinity (2004). Think the scene where "Drake" (Dominic Purcell) walks into the goth shop.

The basis of the idea, of course, is to regress the vampire back to its "monster" status. The creature of evil we grew to know and love through Stoker's Dracula (1897) and various other incarnations.

This nostalgia is typified by John Nettles' "Where Have All the (Real) Vampires Gone? (Or, "Bite Me, Lestat!")".

However, there's two factors that these monster buff miss out on: 1) the vampire of history (folklore) wasn't nearly as brutal as they'd like to think 2) even the monsters in fiction are sometimes shown to have a heart.

For a quick example, let's look at Count Dracula.

In the novel, he is depicted as a cunning, cruel being, looking to spread vampirism through the civilised world. Yet, he clearly has a soft side. Let's take this scene, in which the Count rescues Jonathan Harker from the attentions of his "brides":

"How dare you touch him, any of you? How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it? Back, I tell you all! This man belongs to me! Beware how you meddle with him, or you'll have to deal with me."

The fair girl, with a laugh of ribald coquetry, turned to answer him. "You yourself never loved. You never love!" On this the other women joined, and such a mirthless, hard, soulless laughter rang through the room that it almost made me faint to hear. It seemed like the pleasure of fiends.

Then the Count turned, after looking at my face attentively, and said in a soft whisper, "Yes, I too can love. You yourselves can tell it from the past. Is it not so? Well, now I promise you that when I am done with him you shall kiss him at your will. Now go! Go! I must awaken him, for there is work to be done."

This "emo" side of Dracula is also alluded to in Bela Lugosi's turn as the Count, when he says, "To die, to be really dead, that would be glorious."

When "monsters" are humanised in this manner, especially by giving them a "tragic" elelment, the natural outcome is to explore the emotional dimensions of their situation. What's the mindset of a being that lives for centuries and must subsist on blood for its own survival?

This, of course, lead to the diversion of vampire-as-monster into vampire-as-hero/protagonist. Thus, Fred Saberhagen's The Dracula Tape (1975) sought to tell the story from Dracula's point-of-view. Its subsequent sequels, in turn, recast the Count as a hero.

More famously, Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire (1976) was narrated by Louis de Pointe du Lac, a former resident of 18th century New Orleans, who describes the trials and tribulations he faces as a vampire. Probably the most successful vampire novel of the twentieth century, it was further expanded in Rice's elaborate "Vampire Chronicles".

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Hotel Transylvania (1978) transformed a mysterious historical figure into a vampiric Romantic hero and also spawned another successful series.

These approaches made the vampire much more "accessible" to the public. He was no longer an aristocrat living alone in a dank castle up in the mountains, but a fully developed "personality", one that could be found in an urban environment.

This also meant that the vampire became more of an accessible "fantasy" figure, too.

And so, from this genesis, the vampire romance genre was born. Its most successful incarnation is, of course, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight franchise.

Of course, this means that fans of the vampire genre, who either grew up with - or prefer - the "monster" variants, were stranded in an overcrowded market.

This in turn lead to a new wave of vampire depiction, in which the vampire's monstrosity is re-introduced, if not enhanced. The vampire hunter also resurfaces as a major character. Think
F. Paul Wilson's "Midnight Mass" (1990; 2004), John Steakley's Vampire$ (1991) and David Wellington's "Vampire Series" (2006- ).

Then, there are versions that walk the line, like Laurell K. Hamilton's "Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter" series (1993- ) and Joss Whedon's TV rendition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003).

The tug and pull between romanticisation and de-romanticisation will always be present in the vampire genre. There will always be debates and preferences over what vampires are "meant" to be like.

After all, one of the greatest attributes of the vampire in fiction and film, is its adaptability; the same characteristic that's ensured its success and survival in the present age.

On Psychic Vampires

I admit I'm not big into the whole psi-vamp thing, an off-shoot of vampire subculture and occultic dogma.

If you're unaware of what a "psi-vamp" is, then here's a definition courtesy of The Psychic Vampire Resource and Support Pages:
A Psychic Vampire is a person, Who by reason of a condition of their spirit, needs to obtain vital energy from outside sources. They are unable to generate their own energy, and often times don't have the best capacity to store the energy they do have.
However, I'm still gonna recommend this article from Inanna Arthen's By Light Unseen page, if only because it gives an historical overview of the subject. Interesting stuff.

Early Kaplan Work

Yesterday, I received an excellent addition to my library.

That is, Stephen Kaplan's In Pursuit of Premature Gods & Contemporary Vampires (South Setauket, Long Island, New York: The Vampire Research Center of America, 1976).

Won it off eBay for US $99.99 (AU $108.26), which was a hell of a bargain, especially as the seller notes that there are "ONLY 40 copies IN EXISTENCE!"

He only wrote one other book on vampires, Vampires Are (as told to Carole Kane), which was published by ETC in Palm Springs, California, in 1984. You can read my review of the book here.

Kaplan (1940-1995) was the founder of the Vampire Research Center and one of the first people to openly refer to himself as a "vampirologist". In many ways, his work anticipated the coverage given to the vampire subculture.

However, his search wasn't merely for people who drink blood and don fangs, as this article reveals:
When Dr. Kaplan speaks of vampires, he is not just referring to individuals who have a mania for drinking blood, but of individuals with a special genetic make-up that enables them to live extremely long lives by drinking blood. He has met with many of these individuals and has investigated their lives. He estimates that there are 80 to 100 vampires living in the U.S. today.
You can read more about him and his Center here, here and here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Q & A with Niels K. Petersen, Part 2

For the previous installment, click here.
AH: Part of the reason for your blog's existence, was to relay your attempts at finding a copy of de Schertz's famous Magia Posthuma, a work very few authors have read. Where did you find your copy and why do you think other writers have struggled to find a copy of this work?

NKP: If I wasn't seriously searching for that book, I may never have started my blog, and probably would not have attempted to launch the term "magia posthuma" as a kind of brand for the topic. Magia Posthuma is famous because of Dom Calmet who wrote about it in his Dissertation, but apparently it wasn’t widely read or even known in the 18th century, and probably never has been. Because of Calmet and those who have cribbed from him it has become a well-known title, even becoming the name of a Belgian metal band for a short period.

I was finally able to read a copy thanks to the Royal Library in Copenhagen, but I had to help them by pointing in the direction of a copy. As far as I know now, there are two copies in the Czech Republic and one in France, the latter one probably the copy that Calmet himself read.

Magia Posthuma originates in Catholic considerations on how to deal with beliefs in posthumous magic and probably was only known in certain Catholic circles. It isn’t mentioned by Giuseppe Davanzati in his dissertation on vampires, so those circles may have been pretty limited. That would also explain the scarcity and the current location of copies of the book.

AH: Most sources cite the book's publication date as 1706, yet you're fairly confident that it was actually published in 1704. What gives you the grounds for this claim?

NKP: I am not that confident as to the actual publication, but from the contents I can see that a censor read the book in 1704 and recommended its publication. So it must have been written in 1704 or before. I hope that future research in those parts of Europe, particularly in the Czech Republic, will shed further light on the actual background for von Schertz’s book. One would expect that archives and libraries could contain more information, or just information that is not currently easily available, but I honestly don’t know what to expect. As the magia posthuma cases and posthumous cremations of corpses in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia are closely related to witch and sorcery cases, hopefully someone will augment the work of Karen Lambrecht and Gabor Klaniczay, filling in some of the gaps in our knowledge about the posthumous magic of that region.

AH: Apart from finding a copy of de Schertz's book, what would you say is your proudest achievement, so far, in your vampirological studies and aims?

NKP: I am happy to have inspired people in Vienna to arrange a conference on vampirism and to have participated. That certainly has been one of the highlights of my active interest in the subject. I also want to mention my delight in inspiring and helping various people in their studies and research. It seems that I have inspired a couple of students in their choice of thesis. I am frequently surprised at the kind of response I get from my blog. Some of the feedback I have received can be seen on the blog, but a lot of it is only communicated by e-mail.

AH: To my knowledge, you haven't published any book-length works on vampires. Why is this? Do you plan on publishing anything in the immediate future?

NKP: I am frequently asked that question. But like I said, I started out working on a book in my native language, Danish, before even considering blogging about the subject. I must admit that my search for further material, blogging, and in particular all those other things that I am involved in outside of the field of magia posthuma has taken up a lot of time. But I have lately put more time into getting on with my book. So I am actually working on it, but my time is pretty limited, so I dare not put a date on when it will be finished.

AH: Lastly, what is the ultimate aim of your blog? What do you hope your readers will get from it?

NKP: I hope that people will find out that vampires and other revenants are rooted in "historical reality", that they differ a lot from the vampires of Buffy and Twilight, and that we can learn something about human history and concepts by following the history of the vampire. I hope that more people will be inspired to explore the reality behind the myth by not just accepting what some author, say Montague Summers, writes, but by reading the original texts.

I don’t think I have an ultimate aim with the Magia Posthuma blog, but its existence and aim is of course related to my own activities in the field. Curiously, even in periods when I only post a few times a month, I keep getting e-mails and commentaries from people who have just found it, so I suppose it works well as a resource of information and ideas.
I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Niels for his co-operation with this interview and should point out that his blog served as a key inspiration for this one.

Q & A with Niels K. Petersen, Part 1

Welcome to a new segment for my blog; "Q & A".

I'll be interviewing people associated with vampire scholarship in order to give an insight into what draws them to the field and what they hope to achieve by their contributions.

Our very first guest is Niels K. Petersen, a Danish vampirologist and the man behind Magia Posthuma.

I e-mailed Niels some questions ("RE: Possible Interview?", Friday, 15 January 2010 5:26:18 PM) about his involvement with vampire studies, and he sent his response ("RE: Possible Interview?", Sunday, 17 January 2010 10:06:47 AM).

I should point out that the questions were originally numbered. I've introduced paragraph breaks not found in his original reply and split the interview into two parts, due to length.

Niels K. Petersen (Photo: Nicolas Barbano)
Anthony Hogg: What first inspired your interest in vampires?

Niels K. Petersen: It was reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a teenager that got me started. I had seen the documentary In Search of Dracula on Swedish TV, and I had read various vampire comic books like the Danish translation of Tomb of Dracula, so I knew about both the fictional and the so-called ‘historical’ Dracula, Vlad Tepes. Having read the novel, I began investigating and collecting everything about Dracula and vampires. I tried to compile facts about vampires and even had a box of index-cards with descriptions of vampires mentioned in various books. I must have been 13 or 14 years old when I started doing that.

Later on I got pretty disillusioned with the books I could lay my hand on. You should remember that this was way before the web, so books were often extremely hard to come by, and many books were out of print and almost impossible to buy. But the more books I found, the more I realized that most authors more or less just copied what others had written, perhaps adding some extra facts and the omnipresent Freudian analysis.

The chain of copyists led me back to Montague Summers, Stefan Hock and Dom Calmet, who were hard to come by then. I had to go the Royal Library in Copenhagen to find them, but that also meant that I could investigate a number of the original books on the subject from the 17th and 18th centuries. I also found a copy of Georg Tallar’s medical examination of victims of purported vampires or moroi, which wasn’t mentioned in any book I had seen before.

AH: You started your blog in 2007, but your readers probably aren't aware that you've been writing about vampires for a lot longer. Could you give us a background?

NKP: Well, I edited a fanzine on vampires and horror fiction when I was pretty young, so I wrote some articles on vampires that were based on books like Anthony Masters’ The Natural History of the Vampire. Later on, I was asked to write a couple of articles on similar matters, including a history of vampire cinema for a Danish magazine on horror movies to coincide with Coppola’s movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

But for many years I wasn’t actively doing anything related to the subject apart from perhaps watching the occasional vampire movie. I had become a father and was busy with other things. And I was still pretty disillusioned with most of the books that were published at the time. I suppose I had more or less dropped the subject.

But in 2006 I decided to compile the material I had for a book in my native language, Danish. However, when I began working on it, I started looking for extra information and for some of the books I didn’t have. I also discovered papers and a few books published in recent years, mostly in German, and thanks to the internet I was able to finally get hold of some of the books that had been almost impossible to find earlier on.

Initially I had no intention to go online with my interest. OK, I intended to make a companion web site to the book I was working on, but that would probably have been in Danish only.

AH: Your blog's primary focus are 18th century vampire reports and respective folklore associated with vampires. Why does this area interest you more than fictional literary contributions to the field, like, say Dracula?

NKP: So much has been written on Dracula, and I think that Elizabeth Miller in particular has done a great job in excavating Stoker and his count from the number of misconceptions and myths that he has been shrouded in for decades.

In general, a lot has been written on fictional vampires, but the historical origin of the vampire is quite another matter. Just take a look at a recent book like David J. Skal’s Romancing the Vampire, it thoroughly documents the fictional vampire, but when it comes to history and folklore it is very thin, and that is unfortunately symptomatic of the English-language literature on the subject.

But overall, one can say that most people who have seriously been investigating vampires have done so from an initial interest in the fictional vampire. When Aribert Schroeder travelled to a number of archives and libraries to look for source material on vampires, he wanted to trace the historical background of vampire fiction.

In later years, however, people, and mostly European researchers, have begun to investigate that history from other points of view. A growing interest over the past decades in the history of funerary practices and concepts of the dead with Philippe Ariès as one exponent, and the modern historical research into sorcery and witchcraft cases have, I suppose, led the way for an increasing interest in vampires and revenants from a similarly historical point of view. An example is the German book Gespenster und Politik, Ghosts and Politics, published in 2007 which compiles papers on e.g. Dom Calmet’s interest in vampires as related to his defense of the Church’s position in contemporary society against both those who questioned the Devil from the point of view of rational scepticism and those who superstitiously would believe all sorts of tales of revenants.

So, I simply aim at finding out “what really happened” by going ad fontes and trying to understand the events and concepts in terms of their context. By doing so, I hope to understand how the interest in and conception of vampires and other revenants have developed and how they are related to other aspects of society, religion, science etc. However, it is not only important to understand how vampire beliefs were interpreted and received by those more “enlightened” and educated people, who have communicated their experiences and thoughts on the matter in books and letters, but one should also try to grasp what kind of “belief system” that have made people genuinely fear the return and haunting of revenants.

In short, you may say that I am interested in the vampire as part of history, as a concept of "historical reality", rather than as a concept of some author’s or filmmaker’s imagination. Still, I am fascinated by the way vampires caught the 18th century imagination and transformed into something quite as different as the vampires of Dracula, Interview with the Vampire and Twilight. Within very few days of the incidents in the Serbian village Medvedja, people were writing about vampires in a way that carried the seed of modern vampire fiction.
To be continued...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Author Seeks Publisher!

Dr. Tina Rath obviously has a thing for vampires.

She gained her doctorate from London University by writing her thesis on "The Vampire in Popular Fiction". Her MA was obtained by a dissertation called, "The Vampire in the Theatre".

You can read more about her writings here.

She's appeared in a variety of media, discussing the vampire phenomena, but even though she's had a variety of short vampires and dark fantasy stories published, and edited a short story anthology called Conventional Vampires (2003), she's seeking a publisher for her thesis.

Due to the subject of her work, I think a few university presses could accommodate her book. For example, SUNY Press recently published Mary Y. Hallab's Vampire God: The Allure of the Undead in Western Culture (2009).

Maybe we could go for a bit of a different tack. I'm thinking Vamplit Publishing. Sure, their submission guidelines specifically state they only publish "Gothic, vamplit, horror, fantasy and crime fiction in ebook format", but surely this'd be a worth addition to their output?

Barring that, how about Transylvania Press? Here's their mission statement:
Transylvania Press, Inc. publishes high-quality vampiriana for collectors, libraries and fans. Our limited editions are printed on high-quality, acid-free paper and bound in library binding.
If that doesn't suffice, there's always Lulu.

Any other reader suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Props for Perky

Speaking of anthologies, I inadvertently stumbled across the contents pages (pdf file) of Jan L. Perkowski's Vampire Lore: From the Writings of Jan Louis Perkowski (2006).

A listing for the book appears on its publisher's (Slavica) website.

I've already got Perkowski's Vampires of the Slavs (1976) and The Darkling: A Treatise on Slavic Vampirism (1989) and a few of his articles. But there's others I don't have.

Even though I prefer original source works, I'm looking at getting a copy of this book for the hell of it. He's right up there with Paul Barber (Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality, 1988) in terms of major contributions to vampire studies, as far as I'm concerned.

That's not to say that his works haven't been met with some criticism.

It's also nice to see that he's still teaching Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Virginia.

Friday, January 15, 2010

More Garza

And speaking of Garza, here's a little quote from him concerning the romanticisation of the vampire in modern times, courtesy of Gina McIntyre's "Fresh Blood for Vampires and Their Followers" for the Los Angeles Times (the quote appears on the second page):
Thomas Garza, a University of Texas professor who has taught a class on the subject, "The Vampire in Slavic Cultures," for the last 12 years, said the metamorphosis of the vampire from repugnant fiend to alluring Lothario was a natural and necessary update for the modern era.

"You see the devil standing before you looking all hideous and grotesque, you're not going to walk over and join him," Garza said. "But if the devil appears to you looking like some romantic character and speaking beautiful British English, you might want to sit down and have a cup of coffee."
He also has something interesting to say about keeping the vampire a frightful figure in Chris Garcia's "Fangs Bared: A Vampire Expert Bites into the Undead Mythology":
On books and movies making vampires more human-like and easy on the eyes (or: What's wrong with today's vampires): "It's exactly the antithesis of where we should be going with vampires. We've been trying slowly but surely to get them away from this count (Dracula) from a faraway country and making him a guy down the street, sort of Joe the Plumber, only a vampire.

"As a movement of the whole mythology of the vampire, it's wrongheaded. The vampire had to be created out of what is not of this earth. These are mortal men who have moved to another plane of existence, another dimension. What made that first great vampire movie 'Nosferatu' so incredibly uncanny was that there is nothing about this creature that's of this world. There's nothing about him we find attractive. He's horrific. That to me is the myth and where the story begins. It's the Dracula story. It's the epitome of how creepy this creature should be.

"As long as we can tap into our xenophobia, then we get into the kind of vampires that make us squeal and jump."

He's also commented on TV series, True Blood in Tara Dooley's "Power, Money and Blood" for the Houston Chronicle:

The theme may not be an entirely new one for vampire stories, though True Blood updates the story line with themes about a vampire rights amendments and interspecies dating. In Season Two, it delves into story lines about the boundaries and bonds of faith, community and cult.

“It also does play on the questions of our concerns about sexuality and what is right, what is ethical and moral,” said Thomas J. Garza, chairman of the Slavic and Eurasian studies department at the University of Texas.

There's also a listing for the book its publisher's site, Cognella. Helpfully, they've also added a pdf "sneak preview" of the book. But somewhat disappointingly, it reveals that the majority of the book's contents are composed of extracts from other works covering the subject.

What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is an anthology. Ah, dammit.

Still, it could still be useful as a springboard to the original works.

The Garza Strip

Before I begin this post, a little correction: there was a little spelling mistake concerning Garza's name, thanks to a faulty Amazon listing. The listing has since been corrected.

Thus, his name is properly written Thomas J. Garza, not "J. Thomas Garza". I've adjusted his label on this blog, accordingly.

Anyhoo, in the same blog entry linked above, I gave brief coverage to Garza's book, The Vampire in Slavic Cultures (University Readers, 2009). What I didn't mention, was that he has been teaching an eponymous course since 1997 at The University of Texas at Austin.

You can read his profile through the University's website, which also provides the course listing.

Vivé Griffith's article, "Vampires Never Die", mentions it and gives a brief overview of the vampire myth.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Notes on Fiends

Several years ago, I provided a teeny correction to a webpage covering one of my favourite vampire stories, "Fiends of the Eastern Front", which was written by G. Finlay-Day and illustrated by Carlos Ezquerra.

I was able to provide the correction, thanks to my (very tattered) copy of The Best of 2000 AD Monthly 95 (Aug 1993), in which it was reprinted.

Since that time, it spun off a series of novels by David Bishop and another story arc in Judge Dredd Megazine. All this and more covered in Fiends' Wikipedia entry.

More on Vampire Apocalypses

A recent addition to the vampire apocalypse genre is Daybreakers (2009), set in an alternate future in which the vampires have taken over and enslaved the remnants of humanity as a food source.

Andrew's written a great little review of the film.

Its premise is slightly reminiscent of an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called "The Wish", which, in turn, echoes a plot device used in Blade (1998).

However, the blood-farming motif had already been used as far back as 1979, in Rod Hardy's Thirst.

As a general entry into the Vampire Apocalypse genre, I should also mention E. E. Knight's "Vampire Earth" series (2003- ), which chronicles humanity's subjugation by a race of extraterrestrials called Kurians, who prolong their lifespans by draining people of their "vital aura".

Fangs N' Sunlight

Theresa's written an interesting little item on standardised vampire attributes, but I do have a coupla points of contention with it.

For instance, here's what she has to see about a classic vampire attribute:
Equally as common among the vampire are descriptions of long sharp teeth and nails, but this should not be surprising in the least to anyone. Vampires are often painted as being strict carnivores, and having the dull and rounded teeth and fibrous fingernails that we humans have would be of very little use to a creature that needs to be an efficient hunter and killer.
If one reads through folklore on the subject, as well as the various reports by Austro-Hungarian authorities, one finds nary a mention of elongated canines. This caused Jean Marigny to remark the following in Vampires: The World of the Undead (London: Thames and Hudson, 1994):
The overdeveloped teeth so dear to filmmakers are reminiscent of the werewolf's fangs but are an attribute that seems to have been invented by the literature of fantasy. In general, the vampire does not bite its victims; it prefers to get blood by sucking the skin's pores. (55)
To be fair, the stories aren't generally specific about blood being sucked through the pores, but as fangs were noticeably absent, this is a seemingly logical conclusion in itself.

As to her bit about sunlight...
People also assume that vampires are susceptible to sunlight and that their flesh will combust into inextinguishable flames if they spend even a moment in it. Although this is true for a scant few species of vampires, it is hardly the case for the larger portion.
I'm not really familiar with any (folkloric/mythical) vampire that disintegrated in this manner. Vampires were mainly nocturnal beings, that is true, and the occasional Russian tale had them needing to return to their tombs before sunrise. But, this was because they'd return to "death". That is, they'd revert back to being a corpse...only to rise again at night, anyway.

The whole death-by-sunlight thing was an invention of Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922). Try and find a source prior to that flick in which vampires disintegrate by sunlight. Go on! I dare ya!

Indeed, the film was even more specific about this modern-day "lore":
One can recognize the mark of the vampire by the trace of his fangs on the victim's throat. Only a woman can break his frightful spell--a woman pure in heart--who will offer her blood freely to Nosferatu and will keep the vampire by her side until after the cock has crowed.
When this lore was incorporated into other vampire stories and flicks, this portion was excised.

The vampire literature of the 19th century had no recognition of this form of vampire destruction: Varney (Varney the Vampire, 1847), Carmilla ("Carmilla," 1872) and even the Count (Dracula, 1897) are all depicted walking about in sunlight.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Navigating the Vampire

Came across an interesting little online article on vampires over at Solar Navigator.

It gives an overview of the vampire myth as well as recent examples of vampire belief.

I gotta say, it's got an impressive references list, too.

X-Rated Twilight

I should warn you that this post is gonna be dealing with some adult content! So, if you're of somewhat delicate sensibilities, I advise you to turn away!

Oh, you're still here.

Anyway, I was having a read through CRwM's "Link proliferation: John can give you cancer", which leads into a subheading he calls "My Most Blatant Bid Ever to Drive Traffic to My Blog":
Stephanie Meyer's, Twilight, the word "porn."

Those search terms alone should pretty much guarantee that this becomes my most read blog post ever.
And it got me there Twilight porn? Y'know. Purely for curiousity's sake.


It didn't take long to find out. And don't worry, I didn't Google "images"!

Jenni Miller gives coverage to the "inevitable" pornographic spin-offs of Meyers' success. In particular, a flick that was released in October last year called This Isn't Twilight: The XXX Parody.

Rule 34, indeed.

Uh, that link isn't "worksafe", by the way.

You would've noticed the emphasis on "parody" appearing in my previous post. Obviously, these artistes are trying to avoid a lawsuit.

Although, one wonders what conservative Mormon housewife Meyer must be making of this stuff. If she's aware of it, of course.

Mind you, the main appeal of such flicks is the cheeky titles they use. It's no wonder that Cher Tippetts laments This Isn't Twilight's lack of originality: "Frankly, we were disappointed they didn't even attempt to come up with a vampire-themed pun for the title."

Much more effective titles have been used in other "parodies" of popular vampire franchises. A few of my favourite titles (none of which I've seen, mind you) are Muffy the Vampire Layer (1992), Intercourse with the Vampire (1994) and From Dusk 'til Porn (2004).

Twilight Backlash

In the previous post, I mentioned that the success of Meyers' books had spawned off a massive resurgence in vampire literature.

As usual, there's always a flipside to such things. A backlash, if you will.

Several parodies of
Twilight have been written. They include Stephen Jenner's TwiLite: A Parody, Stephfordy Mayo's New Moan: The First Book in the Twishite Saga: A Parody and The Harvard Lampoon's Nightlight: A Parody (all 2009).

Oh, and you check out a Twilight-based tune

Obviously, not everyone's so keen on vampires at the moment. Hell, the good folk of Flatmancrooked have even gone out of their way to publish an anthology with the following title:

That's right. It's called, Not about Vampires: An Anthology of New Fiction Concerning Everything Else. It was edited by Deena Drewis and is due for release on the 15th.

If the bloke on the front cover looks familiar, then you'd be right. It's David Duchovny.

Why'd they choose a rendering of him for the cover? Here's what the book's publishers have to say:
On this season of Californication, Hank Moody decried the Twilight series, and in so doing nearly drove one of his students to suicide. Though we don’t want Stephenie Meyer to die, or anyone else for that matter, we’d like to combat the recent spate of popular vampire fiction, some of which is parading itself as literature. Therefore, Flatmancrooked presents Not About Vampires: An Anthology of New Fiction Concerning Everything Else, with cover graphics by the white hot Kevin Best depicting Professor Moody dispatching some teen bloodsuckers.

Trekking Through the Amazon

The success of Meyers' Twilight series has seen a veritable boom of books written on vampires.

Here's some more items of personal interest that have turned up in my Amazon browsings:
Title: Creatures of the Night: In Search of Ghosts, Vampires, Werewolves and Demons
Author: Gregory L. Reece
Release Date: October 30, 2010
What's the Appeal? Going by the book's description, it seems to be taking an occultist tack featured in works like Tom Slemen's Vampires (2007) and Brad Steiger's Real Vampires, Night Stalkers and Creatures from the Dark Side (2009). Sure, they're generally not all that scholarly, but for a different approach, they're not without interest.

Title: A Brief History of Vampires
Author: M. J. Trow
Release Date: July 29, 2010
What's the Appeal? Trow is the author of Vlad the Impaler: In Search of the Real Dracula (2003). This is dubious in itself, as the connection between Vlad and vampires his highly contentious. However, reviews of that work complain of his attention to the undead, so maybe devoting this entire book to the subject will give him a enough legroom to explore it properly.

Title: Vampires: From Dracula to Twilight - The Complete Guide to Vampire Mythology
Author: Charlotte Montague
Release Date: March 4, 2010
What's the Appeal? Ok, I admit it. I'm sucked in by the title. That said, I'm not expecting it to be much more than a standard wade through the same old stuff. The author has an MA degree for History though, so it might rise slightly above the usual drivel.

Title: The Real Twilight: True Stories of Modern Day Vampires
Author: Arlene Russo
Release Date: March 1, 2010
What's the Appeal? This one's a bit shaky. You see, I didn't think much of her previous work on the subject, Vampire Nation (2005), but for an insight into the modern day concept of the vampire, there might be something going for it.

Title: The Legend & Culture of the Vampire
Author: Peter Henshaw
Release Date: February 28, 2010
What's the Appeal? The title on the book cover reads The Legend & Romance of the Vampire, which is much more indicative of its contents. So, I'm expecting a usual run-through of why the vampire is so appealing to readers. Well, it's gotta be better than Corvis Nocturnum's abysmal Allure of the Vampire: Our Sexual Attraction to the Undead (2009), at least, from what I've read of it thus far.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Title and Cover Variations

When vampire books are translated into other languages, their covers and titles can vary quite drastically.

Here's an example I came across on eBay:

It is a retitled Spanish edition, called Los vampiros aun existen ("Vampires Still Do Exist"), of a popular American work on the subject. See if you can guess which one.

Give up?

Look no further than Konstantinos' Vampires: The Occult Truth (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1996):

This process sometimes occurs even in English language works for British and American markets. For instance, Gabriel Ronay's The Dracula Myth (1972) is more commonly known by its American retitling, The Truth about Dracula (1972) and Christopher Frayling's The Vampyre: Lord Ruthven to Count Dracula (1978) was published in the US as Vampyre: A Bedside Companion (1978).
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