cover image Lugosi: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Dracula

Lugosi: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Dracula

Koren Shadmi. Life Drawn, $24.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-64337-661-5

Shadmi (The Twilight Man) delivers a poignant graphic biography of horror star Bela Lugosi (1882–1956) that depicts the Dracula actor’s real-life and on-screen personas with equal aplomb. Interspersing Lugosi’s dying days of morphine-induced hallucinations (colored in sepiatone) with black-and-white flashbacks, the brisk history narrates his rise to silver screen success, his extravagant lifestyle, self-delusions, and (many) marriages and divorces against Hollywood’s evolution from the silent era to the glut and decline of horror pictures. Shadmi’s artwork flows in uncomplicated but immensely expressive lines. Cartoon caricatures of figures including Boris Karloff, James Whale, and Tor Johnson are instantly recognizable, while Lugosi’s vampiric glare hits appropriately chilling, with detailed scene-work conveying the moody atmosphere of films such as Dracula or White Zombie. Both humorous and heartbreaking, Lugosi’s final screen appearance in Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space closes the book with a triumphant curtain call: “Perhaps I am... immortal,” Lugosi muses. Shadmi smoothly blends characterization with chiaroscuro to perfectly spotlight Lugosi’s uncanny magnetism. On the screen—and in this fine portrait—his legacy lasts. (Sept.)