“From the Stars... A Vampiress”
by Steven A. Roman, 2020
A big Vampirella fan since I was a child (some would say I was too young to be seeing such things), I dove right into this authoritative book about the most famous of female vampires. Yeah, take that, Carmilla.
I've known Steve Roman for twenty plus years, back in his Lorelei days, when I was writing and drawing my Cassiopeia the Witch series. As I recall, we even entertained the thought of a crossover that never got very far. I forget why.
While reading Steve's book, I did have to stop and research the DuBay-King lawsuit, as this was mentioned but was not really relevant to the subject at hand. But I quickly got back to the luscious subject matter. Um, the behind-the-scenes of how comics publishing worked in the 1960s, that is.
There's plenty of history here, showing how James Warren (whom I met once) and Forrest J. Ackerman hammered out the character. But the heart of the book is the listing of every Vampirella story to appear in the magazine that bore her name.
Fully half the book consists of mini synapses of Warren's Vampirella adventures and it's a delight to read them (and a sorrow for me, having lost so many of them in the Camp Fire). Roman is thorough—not only does he include her tales from her own mag, but her appearances in another Warren title, Eerie, were she teamed up with the Rook and others.
Kudos for the inclusion of Creepy 8 and 9 in the list, since the “Coffin of Dracula” story, written years before anyone thought of Vampi, is the direct prequel to one of her greatest adventures. Anyone less dedicated than Steve would have neglected the relevance.
Among other things I learned from reading this book, Pantha—a female were-cat, sort of the reciprocal to Vampi—was created by Steve Skeates, another friend of mine! She joined the cast after I'd given up on it. (Not because I wanted to. There were precious few comic book specialty shops in the world when I was a kid. I had to find the Warren mags in liquor stores. But after moving from the Bay Area to the boonies, I couldn't find them at all!)
After the synapses ends, Roman jumps into the most thorough study of the ill-fated Vampirella movie project by Hammer Films I've ever read. Ah, the vagaries of corporate greed. He also goes on to tell about the 1996 movie that, sadly, did get made.
This is followed by a unique overview of the many Vampirella novelizations by Ron Goulart. I either never knew or had forgotten these books existed.
The checklist of Vampi stories largely duplicates the info of the synapses, but its still worth a look. There's a where-are-they-now section which is frankly sad, given how many of the great Warren writers and artists are no longer with us. The book is thoroughly annotated and indexed. It's also highly recommended.
5 dying stars from which hot vampire girls descend.