Vampirella

Tagged: Film | Publication | Comics | Character

Letter-size black-and-white Comics format magazine printed on newsprint-quality paper. Publisher: Warren Publishing. Character created by Forrest J Ackerman; costume designed by artist Trina Robbins. Editors included Bill Parente, Archie Goodwin, Billy Graham and Louise Jones. Artists included Tom Sutton, Pablo Marcos, John Lakey and José González (primary artist from #9 onward). 112 issues from September 1969 to March 1983.

Initially Vampirella was simply a host character like Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie in the sister Horror titles Creepy and Eerie. With issue #9 under editor Goodwin she became the star of the magazine. Her first origin story presented her as a Vampire with powers natural to her species on the planet Drakulon, a dying world whose rivers of blood (equivalent to water on Earth) are drying up. When a Spaceship from Earth crash-lands, Vampirella investigates, kills the crew when they attack her, and learns that humans have blood in their veins. She pilots the repaired craft back to Earth, there vowing to prey only on evil-doers and thus becoming a Superhero, albeit with a touch of the Antihero. Occasionally she makes uneasy alliance with other Warren heroes such as The Rook. Her character proved popular: according to published circulation statements, Vampirella was still selling well when Warren Publishing ceased operations in 1983.

When the Warren assets were auctioned later that year, rival publisher Stanley Harris obtained the rights to several titles and characters including Vampirella, which Harris Publications revived in 1987 with a changed origin story. Now she was the daughter of the Jewish demon Lilith (see Gods and Demons), and somewhat more of a traditional Vampire, though immune to religious icons such as crosses. Her powers increased to include Telepathy, extreme agility and speed, and a healing factor similar to that of the Marvel Comics character Wolverine. She also acquired various supporting characters and many new enemies.

In the late 1990s, James Warren filed a lawsuit against Harris Publications to regain the rights to Warren Publishing characters; though he won the suit in 2001, he has not attempted to republish the titles. For murky legal reasons, Harris was nevertheless able to continue publishing Vampirella until 2007. In 2010, Dynamite Entertainment obtained the rights to the character and relaunched Vampirella with a new issue #1, adding the spinoff title Vampirella and the Scarlet Legion in the following year. Dynamite is also reprinting her Warren-era adventures in archival book form.

Further artists associated with the title and character include Ken Barr, Frank Frazetta, Ken Kelly, Sanjulian (especially) and Wally Wood. A Vampirella film was planned in the mid-1970s, starring Barbara Leigh, who appeared in costume on the cover of Vampirella #67 (March 1978) and several later issues; filming reportedly began but was never completed. Much later a straight-to-video film featuring the Harris version of the character was released as Vampirella (1996), directed by Jim Wynorski and scripted by Gary Gerani (with a co-credit to Ackerman) with Talisa Soto in the title role. This was fairly successful but the announced sequel has yet to appear, possibly due to the still unclear ownership of the character.

Much Vampirella Tie merchandise exists, including model kits, posters, and puzzles sold for a number of years through Warren's mail order division Captain Company. Ron Goulart published six novels featuring the character, beginning with Bloodstalk (1975; vt Vampirella: Bloodstalk 1976) and ending with Snakegod (1976). [GSt/DRL]

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