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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 194

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at the classic introduction of Hannibal King in the pages of Tomb of Dracula #25, by the legendary Tomb of Dracula creative team of Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan and Tom Palmer…


One of the best aspects of Marv Wolfman’s run on Tomb of Dracula was the sheer VARIETY of story he wrote while sticking with the basic “people fighting against vampires” motif that the book was based on.

Tomb of Dracula #25 was Wolfman doing a vampire story that also doubled as a private investigator “film noir style” story, and it worked really well (it didn’t hurt that Colan and Palmer’s art style works beautifully for noir stories).

Having a P.I. investigate a vampire killing is a great idea, and Hannibal is an engaging fellow.

Here he is on the case…

As he gets further into the case, he eventually draws attention from the big man himself, Dracula, and then, well, the feces hits the spinning thing, and when everything is said and done, the twist of the issue is revealed.

It’s a great twist (and one set up admirably in the pages above), but it’s almost a shame that Hannibal King has become so well known, so that his twist really doesn’t work super well nowadays, since people know all about him.

Still, in a title that already contained the great creation, Blade the Vampire Hunter, Wolfman/Colan/Palmer strike again with the great character, Hannibal King, who has survived for many years since this title, in the hands of many different writers.

When we did the Greatest Marv Wolfman Stories Ever Told, this issue did quite well, finishing #7 on the list. It’s a well derserved honor!


I’ve been rereading all of the Wolfman/Colan/Palmer run through the B&W Essentials and the STILL hold up.
It’s pretty amazing, when you consider that about 90% of the entire run was through Newsstands and they were able to tell, well for want of a better word, mature stories like these. (Especially when they got to the whole Dracula/Dracula’s son/Jesus/Satan story-line).

And for anyone out there who complains or refuses to read any of these Essential reprints because they’re in black & white, Colan & Palmr’s artwork is spectacular in B&W!

Matter-Pooper Lad

July 14, 2010 at 6:55 am

At the time this came out, I remember thinking Hannibal King was the best supporting character comics had yet produced.

Whenever I look at Gene Colan’s great art, it makes me so sad that there are hundreds of artists cloning Liefield/Jim Lee/Michael Turner and NOBODY attempting to draw in Colan’s style. Tragic.

I thought you might explain in this post how Hannibal King went from being a fictional character to drawing a few issues of Matt Wagner’s Grendel. That’s quite the transition!

Hannibal King is awesome. I’ve… got to buy these Essentials.

They don’t have any collections of this that are in color, do they? The Essentials have been on my wish list for a while, but I’d much rather have a colorr version.

A great pick, Brian.A few comments:

Art: What is there to say? The Colan/Palmer team is one of the greatest penciller/inker match-ups in comics history.Even better, their stuff looks great in black and white, so there is no excuse not to buy the ESSENTIAL TOMB OF DRACULA.

Script: Wolfman does great film noir style dialogue.

Surprise ending: Although King’s popularity has , as you say, diminished the shock of the ending, one can still derive fun from spotting all the clues:

SPOILER ALERT: I will now list the clues to King’s vampiric nature in the issue:

Page 7, panel 3: King says to his client that he was “casing a factory” when a vampire killed everyone “everyone inside.”

Page 11, panel 2: King, thinking about the murder of his client’s husband, feels angry, “like I was on the night I met that other scum [ the vampire who killed him].”

Page 11,panel 4: Note how King casts no reflection in the mirror.

Page 11, panel 5: King can hear the barkeep’s heart beat.

Page 14, panel 2: King is hit over the head with a crowbar and is uninjured.

Page 15, panels 2, 4, 5: King thinks that he needs to travel ten miles; it is 10:41 pm. In panel 4, he states that he will be travelling on foot. In panel 5, it is 10:44, and King has arrived at his destination.

Panel 5: King sees a sign on a building that says “Welcome, come in.” MARVEL vamps (at least in TOMB OF DRACULA) follow the rules set down in Stoker’s DRACULA, and require an invitation to enter a dwelling.

Panel 6: It is implied that King has entered via the second storey window.

Page 16, panel 3: Dracula says that he is King’s master (Drac is lord of all vampires).

Page 17, panel 17: Drac throws King out of a second storey window. King survives.

Page 17, panel 4: drac states that he must leave before King returns.

Page 17,panel 5: The mist is not Drac leaving but King returning.

Page 22, panel 3: King says to a man armed with a gun, “You didn’t really think that you could stop me with that toy, did you?’

Page 22, panel6: King has to go two miles before he leaves the “stench” of Drac’s human thrall behind.

Page 23, panel 2: King can smell what is waiting for him.

Page 23, panel 4: Again, Drac uses the phrase master in reference to King.

Page 27, panels 4-5: King killes a vamp by ramming an axe so forcefully through its chest that only part of the handle protrudes.

Page 27, panel 5: Drac seaks of King’s “rebellion.”

Page 31, panel 6: The big reveal. King smiles, showing the reader his fangs. At the same moment, he states that he has been a vampire for three years.


There are color omnibi of the Tomb of Dracula run, I think the first book, which includes this issue stands up great. The second omnibus which covers the second half of the series starts to show some cracks in the formula. Pretty much everything up until the book was transplanted from England to the US was awesome though.

Mangir:”There are color omnibi of the Tomb of Dracula run, I think the first book, which includes this issue stands up great. The second omnibus which covers the second half of the series starts to show some cracks in the formula. Pretty much everything up until the book was transplanted from England to the US was awesome though”: I disagree with this evaluation. To my way of thinking, TOD witnessed some of its stongest work after Dracula relocated to the USA in issue 36: the battle against Dr Sun in 37-42, the great NIGHT-STALKER takeoff in 43, the classic battle with Dr. strange in 44 and DOCTOR STRANGE 14, the surreal confrontation with various literary characters in 49, the epic battle against the angelic Janus (50 through 70), the Woody Allenesque comedy of the VAMPIRE CONSPIRACY in 56, Dracula wielding a cross in 69, etc.

Besides the sheer aesthetic strength of these issues, the move to America also engendered a greater sense of realism in the title. Frankly, Wolfman’s depiction of the UK and Europe was always a bit off. He was on much firmer ground once he relocated the series to the USA

This is in my queue.

For some reason, the Essentials seem to have fallen out of print and the first volume of the Omnibus is extremely expensive. Also, I know that some of the Essentials volumes were censored. Marvel re-prints are extremely frustrating in that regard, since piecing together a run of a classic like this takes more effort than it should.

The first volume of color reprints tpbs (covering 1-12) was released recently. Even at 30 bucks a pop, it’s worth it (although most of the good stuff has to wait for the next volume and up). Incidentally, check out a rare self-inking job from Colan on issue 1, it’s stunning. Palmer did amazing work over Colan’s pencils, but I wish we could have seen more of Colan’s inks.

Essential Tomb of Dracula should be on every fan of the medium’s bookshelf. It’s one of the best comics ever made.


Censoring in the TOMB OF DRACULA ESSENTIALS: None of the reprinted material from the color comic book run is censored; the only censored stuff comes from the black and white non-code approved magazine stories. As near as I can tell, the censoring is fairly light, mostly just obscuring the occasional bare breast or buttock.

@jazzbo “They don’t have any collections of this that are in color, do they? The Essentials have been on my wish list for a while, but I’d much rather have a colorr version.”

At least do yourself a favor and the next time you’re at a comic shop or book shop, page through one of these TOD Essentials. You may prefer color (especially on super hero stuff) but the Colan/Palmer work in it’s B&W pure form is far superior to it’s colored versions. Especially with Palmer’s brush work and when they use zip-a-tone. Also, starting in Vol. 4 they begin reprinting all of the Dracula stories from the various B&W magazines.

@ syon:

That is my understanding. It is hardly the end of the world, but it does change the intent of the artists involved. I am never a fan of that.

Moreover, I am not sure what the point could possibly be. It is not as though the Essentials series is Code Approved (if the code even still exists).


Intent of the censorship: I seem to recall reading that it has something to do with the placement of the ESSENTIALS in bookstores.

The issue of censorship: I’m quite anti-censorship myself, but, as I previously stated, the censoring in the TOD ESSENTIALS is pretty light; if an obscured breast means the difference between an inexpensive mass market edition and no reprint at all, then I am willing to tolerate it.

THE GROOVY AGE OF HORROR: If you are curious about this issue, the site THE GROOVY AGE OF HORROR deals with it in some depth. For example, the site has some comparison shots between the original art and the censored ESSENTIAL reprints.

@syon- Also the fact that King’s office hours were at night.

I was lucky enough to buy this off the spinner rack. The ending blew my fragile little mind.

The art in Tomb of Dracula works very well in Black & White. In fact, it kind of helps to clear up some of the murkiness of the original issues.

This gets my votes in Greatest Single Issue and Greatest Runs and Greatest Writer/Artist Teams.

Colan + Palmer = awesome

"O" the Humanatee!

July 14, 2010 at 8:25 pm

The Colan/Palmer art may look as good or better in black and white, but the colorist on this and many other issues of TOD was no slouch. His name was Tom Palmer, and he was a great colorist as well as inker. (Richard J. Marcej: He was also responsible for the Zip-a-Tone.) Many of the later issues were colored by Wolfman’s (then-?) wife Michelle, who was nowhere near as good.

Palmer almost exclusively colored jobs he had inked, but I know of one exception: the Black Panther story in Jungle Action #13, which Palmer colored over the combination of penciller Billy Graham (the book’s regular artist) and inker Craig Russell, who was otherwise essentially working only as the penciller and occasional self-inker on Killraven. Russell of course would later become well-known for his opera adaptations. For me, as a teenage art geek, it was a fascinating, unusual combination of creators. (It was also memorable because after buying it, I headed uptown to a hospital where a longtime friend was just recovering after an appendectomy.)

Sir Manley Johnson

October 2, 2010 at 9:54 am

I concur with Richard. This a case where the artwork really stands out in Black and White. I had considered purchasing the coloured Omnibus but in my experience the colouring really distracts from the mood that is set by Colan and Palmer artwork.

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