Cycle of the Vampire
My first exposure to the vampire myth was through The Count on Sesame Street and his commercial counterpart, Count Chocula, who adorned the front of a sweetened cereal that I lusted after to no end.
So my youthful blush with the big bad bloodsucker was hardly the kind to spark fear, and I never put my head under my pillow and trembled through the night in fear of a vampire’s fingernails scratching against the window. I just didn’t really think of them as scary, since even at an early age I was fairly rational and had plenty of real-life horrors to choose from.
All that changed in 1972, when “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” made its appearance on network television. What made the most impact on my reeling prepubescent mind was that the vampire wasn’t flapping around the sky above a crumbling European castle or sleeping in a coffin somewhere across the ocean. Instead, it was right there, next door, down the street, in a world with cars, hospitals, traffic lights, newspaper reporters, and actual dead people.
I didn’t go on an instant orgy of vampire fiction, movies, or subculture, but I began paying more attention to them— Morbius, the creepy clown in whiteface of Marvel Comics fame, and the old Boris Karloff depictions—especially when I began writing horror. My trope of choice was often the ghost, because I found I could make up my own rules for their motives and behavior and, being willfully ignorant, I assumed all vampires had to do to survive was avoid the sun, garlic butter on toast, and pissed-off noblemen in top hats.
By the time I had made the jump from rock-n-roll to a dedicated writing career, Anne Rice, Poppy Z. Brite, Laurell K. Hamilton and others had rewritten the rules for vampires, and the established monster of centuries took a postpunk strut on the catwalk. The creatures of legend had gone into the closet and come back out again, wearing kick-ass heels, sunglasses, and attitudes.
And here were are, in the Twilight era, and You Suck, and Vampires Suck, and vampires are funny again, and before you know they’ll have their own brand of cereal, and the whole wheel will begin its slow turn again…
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Scott Nicholson is author of 12 novels, including the thrillers Speed Dating with the Dead, Drummer Boy, Forever Never Ends, The Skull Ring, As I Die Lying, Burial to Follow, and They Hunger.
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