There’s a war brewing on American soil — and the enemy is already dead. That’s the premise behind “The Dracula War,” the follow-up to 2004’s “Sword of Dracula” mini-series by Jason Henderson. Though not a direct sequel to the first “Sword of Dracula” series, “The Dracula War” taps into the mythology established by “SOD” and features the return of hero Veronica “Ronnie” Van Helsing.
“It’s the ’Casino Royale’ for ’Sword of Dracula,'” Henderson said, “This is a jumping on point for readers — a big scenario that can stand by itself.”
“The Dracula War” begins with an attack on one of Dracula’s blood reserves — blood he can manipulate into any weapon or building material. In retaliation, Dracula seizes the Denver International Airport, flooding it with undead soldiers, deliberately provoking a response from the United Nations.
Rather than follow conventional comic writing protocol, Henderson says he worked backwards on “The Dracula War,” writing the story as a feature-length screenplay before reformatting it with artist Greg Scott as a three-issue comic book miniseries. Along the way, a number of changes were made.
“Comics are about the illusion of movement and movies are about movement itself,” Henderson said on converting the script, “Where I had planned for there to be eight people in a helicopter, Greg would tighten it down to two to make things work,” Henderson said. “In the end they’re the same scene, but very different in how you accomplish ’land on the zeppelin, inject it, fight zombies and jump off.'”
Henderson’s modern, cinematic take on Dracula attracted Hollywood’s attention early on. “Sword of Dracula” was initially acquired for feature film development by Chuck Gordon, producer of the “Die Hard” films, and Adrian Askarieh of Prime Universe Productions. The film was shopped to major studios, but didn’t see production before the option lapsed.
Ironically enough, one of the reasons the film didn’t happen on its first go-around might’ve had something to do with an “X-Men” star.
“The movie was optioned (back in 2004) and then ’Van Helsing’ hit…” Henderson said recalling the release of Hugh Jackman’s critically-panned monster hunter film, “After that, nobody wanted anything with vampires.”
Though the property has yet to be picked up by Hollywood a second time, Henderson remains optimistic as he turns his attention to comics.
Right now we’re focused on getting the book to look good,” Henderson said, “Do we want a movie? We’d be idiots not to, and my best way of doing that is by making a great comic.”
Despite Hollywood’s current love affair with sequential art source material, Henderson understands fan skepticism.
“It’s based on a desperate fear that the next comic film is going to be really, really bad,” Henderson said. However, he still believes in comics as a cost-effective incubator for stories and a positive way for the industry to attract new readers.
With “The Dracula War” headed to stores in December, Henderson believes there’s plenty of possibility for a film.
“’Sword of Dracula’ has always been about the mindset that (the comic) has to look like a big-budget film,” Henderson said. “I really can’t imagine anything better suited for a movie.”
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