One of my favorite things in the entire world is when a piece of media takes a monster, subverts the trope and gives us a more “human” way of looking at them. Too often, monsters are portrayed as evil invaders into our normal way of life. When we get stories where a usual monster isnt presented as some violator to what we can usually understand and perceive, it ends up being so fun and refreshing. I love stories where “monsters” have a world of their own, where they are just as petty or charming or loving as us. Why wouldnt monsters be unique, multilayered individuals in their own stories? One of the most enjoyable examples of this is The Curious Mystery Involving Dracula And The Wolfman.
The Curious Mystery Involving Dracula And The Wolfman is a 2018 Kickstarted work from the comics collaboration duo Dream Cake, made up of Ali Leriger de la Plante and Natasha Tara Petrović. Ali wrote the story and Natasha adapted it with her art into the final comic. They describe it as: a short romp into the world of spectacular spooks and fantastic fools. The day before the birthday of Dracula’s good friend Frankenstein, the Count is subject to his own attempted murder…but more importantly, the would-be killer has stolen his gift for the Monster! With the help of Wolfman, will Dracula be able to solve the mystery and recover the gift before the party? Obviously this description should immediately get you on board. If you’d like to read this delightful tale before reading my piece singing its praises, it’s for sale here digitally or physically. I HIGHLY recommend getting it.
“Fantastic fools” is mentioned in the description for this comic, and that really is the main theme here. Dracula, The Wolfman and everybody else that exists in this world of monsters are presented as foolish and as silly as we all can be, ESPECIALLY Dracula. I’m gonna talk a lot about the Dracula in here. Instead of some gothic super seducer, or Christopher Lee supervillain, we get a sassy, bratty, egotistical, selfish, super hyper scamp and I LOVE HIM. Ive rarely identified with a character as much as I do with this Dracula. I dont know if thats a good or bad thing.
Our story opens with Drac getting up in the morning, hopping out of the coffin, as you do, going through the usual morning routine before he discovers he’s been staked in his sleep. Appropriately, he FREAKS. He immediately calls his friend The Wolfman (named Lonnie, presumably for the actor Lon Chaney who played the Wolf Man in the Universal Monsters franchise, which is just such an enormous chef’s kiss). One thing I love here is how we get such a perfect sense of who these characters are by the word balloons used in their telephone conversation.
Dracula’s word balloons are these explosions matching the all caps of his overdramatic whining. In these panels, as well as most of the comic, his word balloons tend to be jagged, ever changing shapes to represent his hilariously unstable personality and his bursts of arrogant sass. Lonnie’s are always calm, properly punctuated, small rounded balloons, sometimes even rendered smaller to show he is a quiet, calm refined man opposed to his theatrical friend.
Dracula of course assumed this staking and trashing of his house was that bastard Van Helsing who always is messing with him, when he realizes the gift he bought for his friend Frank’s Birthday Party is also gone and the party is tomorrow!! I absolutely love what Petrović does with the art here. When Dracula gets really peeved, h, as well as the entire panel turns into a coalescence of angry energy. The facial expressions are also just SO GOOD here. The defeated, utterly destroyed face Drac makes when he notices the gift is gone, to the shocked and appalled anger he feels as he barks into the phone as his mouth turns into a tiny circle of shouting teeth. Also, Dracula’s Bat Pajamas are THE fit for the season. They bring me so much joy. I honestly just cant stop smiling looking at them. Petrović’s art is just a revelation and makes every page so uniquely fun. The characters are always so dynamic and you just GET their whole personalities at just a quick glance.
Drac and Lonnie eventually make their way to Van Helsing’s house where we get a sense that he is just a King of snark and lives to fuck with Dracula. Lonnie remarks how rude it is to just talk over a threshold and is invited in while Dracula, surprising even himself, is able to, with maximum effort, eventually force his way inside.
One of my favorite bits here is Lonnie sitting down to have tea with Mrs. Briggs, Van Helsing’s assistant, and it’s hinted they are both members of the same sewing club. The creators are always popping in tiny building blocks here that arent necessary but they really endear everything to the reader in a special way that makes this comic such a comfort food fave. It establishes even more how much of a sensitive soul Lonnie is. There is such a bustling world of charming wonder built here that we only get a peek into one day of. It’s just SO FUN!
Drac and Lonnie “J’accuse!” Van Helsing but he says he had no part of the staking robbery break in. In fact, he was at choir practice. This prompts probably my favorite part of the entire comic showing how deeply disgusted Dracula is that Van Helsing is such a goody goody that he attends choir practice. It deflates Dracula so much that Lonnie must scoop him up and carry him out. The vampire is defeated by pure wholesomeness. It’s such a hilarious overreaction. I just love it.
Lonnie and Drac eventually return to Drac’s mansion where he paces about whining some more as Lonnie investigates. I love Dracula’s moral rationing here as he says he doesnt deserve any malice thrown his way because he pays his taxes and only kills tourists these days. Then his dramatic swoon in his chair as he tells Lonnie to stop judging the smell of his abode. This is how I talk with my friends. Again, it may not be the best thing that I see myself on the page here.
Lonnie thankfully, smells the remnants of sewer on whoever broke in and actually has a nose to investigate as Drac blankly stares at him, preferring to perform his Maudlin woes. Lonnie leads them to the basement where a drain leads to the sewer where another UNSPEAKABLE act has been committed against Dracula. The thief has also absconded with a wine bottle from his private stock. This is me complaining when my wife throws away a novelty cereal box on me – “Did you throw away that Mario cereal box we got at Target!?!? IT WAS CUTE!…and very rare!”
The duo continues deeper into the sewers where they find Van Helsing, who is following them because he is intensely curious who is stepping in on his “mess with Drac” schtick. They eventually find a secret living space within the labyrinthine sewers.
I love how enamored Lonnie is with all the bizarre decorations in this lair while Dracula and Van Helsing are seriously offended by it. Drac yelling “It’s Tacky!” is me yelling at friends and family that like Big Bang Theory. “It’s Tacky, Dad!” They find out this is indeed the place where the thief resides and he returns home to find the group. The thief is……………
………..The Phantom of the Opera! Van Helsing, through one of his choir friends, fills us in on who he is and how he’s extorting the theater. I love grumpy little Drac saying “That’s bizarre. That’s a bizzare thing to do.” Again that’s me , replying to my friends who actually want to leave their homes for the outside world sometimes.
We find out The Phantom broke in and stole the gift thinking it was one of Lonnie’s trademark high quality capes he only makes for his buddy Drac. The Phantom is also a cape connosueir and just had to have one. Dracula gets that but angrily demands to know why he also had to stake him. It’s here we get a romantic twist!
The Phantom has a crush on Van Helsing!! He’s heard his angelic singing in the choir and hates that he wastes his time messing with Dracula all the time. I love how childishly dense Dracula is here to not get it. It fits his silly character so much. If Drac is out of the picture, maybe The Phantom and Van Helsing could spend some time together. Dracula is like “sweet, I hate Van Helsing. I got my gift back, I’m out” and we are treated to this happy little roll he does to exit. Look at how happy he is!! It’s so cute! I love him!
While Dracula is perfectly fine ditching Van Helsing down here, Lonnie, as we’ve come to see, is the responsible level headed caring one of the group. Lonnie settles things by offering to make The Phantom a cape IF he replaces the wine he stole and to stop messing with Dracula and to make sure both he and Van Helsing don’t crash Frank’s birthday party bash. With that the monster duo take their leave and we get a cute awkward panel of Van Helsing and The Phantom now having to talk to each other alone without all the theatrics. Again, just such a nice little touch, perfectly paced. We’ve all been there before and this tiny little moment really hits and sticks with you.
The comic ends with another few perfectly paced panels leading into a MAGNIFICENT double page spread of Frank’s birthday party that is jam packed with ghouls and ghosts and has Frank finally receiving his gift from Dracula and loving it, ending on this panel:
And that right there is what it’s all about. Dracula may be a whiny, overdramatic, selfish, egotistical, brash and loud person but he’s also a really good friend. No matter what you may be in life, as long as you try to be a good friend, love and happiness will follow. It’s a lovely and heartwarming sentiment to wrap up this fun adventure. But that’s not all as the feels keep coming with the final final outro being a look into a window as The Phantom and Van Helsing play the piano, making sweet music together. This book seems to be all about spooky monsters, but really it’s about love and relationships. This book is why this site exists. Those special comics that defy all odds and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, eliciting the kind of emotional responses that defy imagination. It doesnt hurt that these two creators are also absolute masters at their craft, from pacing, story, extraneous character and world building, expressions, emotions, landscapes and all the art as a whole. I would die to protect this Dracula, so clearly this work of art REALLY resonated with me. Again, please support these wonderful creators and Trick Or Treat Yoself and pick this one up.