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I Love Ya But You’re Strange – The Bizarre Tale of Transilvane

Every day this August I’ll be spotlighting strange but ultimately endearing comic stories, one a day (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books).

Today we look a two-parter by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta from Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #142-143, where Kirby puts his own particular spin on the newly lifted Comics Code ban on vampires in comics.

Our story begins when Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent are talking to the secretary for Morgan Edge…

As it turns out, she was also the secretary for the mad scientist, Dabney Donovan, who Dragorin really wants to find. When he heads off to a lab, Clark and Jimmy follow. They are soon accosted by a fellow named Lupek…

You “matted masterwork of murderous malignancy”?!? For serious?

Anyhow, once Superman gets involved, things change a bit…

I got to love that explanation for Superman’s powers.

In any event, as we find out, these creatures are denizens of an artificial world. Here it is…

In the next issue, we learn why they all look like horror creatures…

And we learn how they travel from their planet to ours…via coffins, of course!!!

Once there, Superman and Jimmy are captured.

As it turns out, Dabny Donovan created the race as experiments and now he wants to wipe them out with a “genocide spray.” They are not pleased about this and want to find Donovan.

Luckily for them, while he can’t find Donovan, Superman does save them from Donovan’s evil scheme.

But what to do with the creatures on the planet? Well, as Superman is a hero from the Silver Age (or early Bronze Age, depending on when you classify 1971 comics), he is cool with messing with people’s heads if he thinks it is the right thing to do, so he decides to program them with a NEW movie!!

Sadly, we never got to see Transilvane again after this (post-Crisis, Dragorin and his people have been re-introduced, just with new origins).


Hey, I was just rereading this in the Fourth World Omnibus a couple of days ago! I loved how they described Dragorin, both in dialogue and in cover text, as doing “the vampire bit.” One of my favorite things about these Kirby Jimmy Olsen stories is how everyone, even Superman, talks like deranged beatniks.

It got me thinking, though, about how DC has never really had any significant recurring vampire characters. Marvel’s got some terrific vampires, but DC, not so much. Sure, from time to time someone will pop up so we can say “good lord, he bit Superman!” but then they’re quickly forgotten. Crucifer? Idiocy. DC’s Dracula? Dracu-who? Looker? Hahahaha. Superman & Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves? Bite your tongue. The most significant DC vampire I can think of, aside from Vertigo titles, is I, Vampire, and Andrew Bennett is as z-list as they come. Maybe that’ll change with his new relaunch title, but I’d be very surprised.

Primaul, though–that guy’s going places.

So Superman turned them into Oklahomans? Truly a fate worse than death. (I’m from there, so I’m allowed to say that.)

Well, eventually he switched it out for a gangster flick. Then that was the foundation of their culture until the Enterprise came calling.

I always liked this story, it and the post-Crisis ‘remake’ they did in Legends of the DC Universe that was drawn by Ladronn.

Ah, gotta love that classic Silver Age Superman dickery. “Superman, I’m your fan for life!” “And why not!? Many of my innovations are rather spectacular!” Wow, dude. Full of yourself much?

I’m not a Kirby fan, so I’m amazed at how pretty his art is here. Was it Colletta’s inks, or was Kirby consciously drawing Kal’s face to resemble Curt Swan’s version?

Superman’s faces were provided by Murphy Anderson.

Talk about classic Kirby weirdness!

Those redrawn heads on Superman annoy me every time that I see them. Why hire Kirby to draw Superman if you won’t let him draw the face? Does anybody know who redrew Kirby’s Superman face? It looks like Al Plastino to me.

Brian Cronin: “Superman’s faces were provided by Murphy Anderson.”

Thanks Brian.

Plastino drew them initially and then Anderson took over.

buttler:”Well, eventually he switched it out for a gangster flick. Then that was the foundation of their culture until the Enterprise came calling.”

Kirby must have really liked that episode of STAR TREK, seeing as how he used the plot for the Skrull gangster arc in FF 90-93.

Ye Gods? I think Kirby forgot this wasn’t Thor.

seeing this issue proved how crazy dc was back then. even having the legendary jack kirby on board. for citizens of another planet acting and looking the way they do do to doing nothing but watching movies and superman changing them by making them watch okalahoma. interesting stuff back then.

I have to say I LOVED this story when it first came out.
It was unlike anything else DC was doing and like all of Kirby’s stuff at that time PACKED with ideas.
And even though it didn’t always make sense… The story was unforgettable.
Much as I love the more mature ‘decompressed’ comic tales of Bendis, Bruaker and the like – will any of them live in the imaginations of young readers the way ‘Transilvane’ did in mine?
(well – maybe some of Morrison’s…)

Good thing he didn’t leave them with a copy of “Eraserhead” or something!

Kirby also did “Creature from the Black Lagoon” in one of his last FF stories, and I think Kamandi’s future-Chicago had movie-mobster gorillas in it, as did some little planet the much later (non-Kirby) Micronauts comic. How many movie gangster planets are out there anyway?

I really hope that Morrison uses his Action Comics to reintroduce crazy shit like this the same way he brought Batman’s Silver Age weirdness into the mix.

Remember when Superman faces by Neal Adams looked like Jerry Lewis-his previous comic.

Well, There was Malibu in Leave It To Binky. I think vampires became Vertigo’s bailiwick and DC never ran with much supernatural after it was spun off to Vertigo. A pity. I think Night Girl of the Sub. Legion would have made a great vampire character.

Morrison’s Action Comics is supposed to be Golden Age all the way.

I really recommend reading those 1938-1939 stories, by the way. They’re very fun.

Oklahoma as a monster flick? We can only hope Morrison resurrect

s this piece of insanity.

In Australia we occasionally got to see these Jimmy Olsen stories via b&w reprints, and I’m SURE I’ve seen Kirby faces on Superman at least sometimes… it does bug me to see DC had more conservative artists redraw Supes’ face on these stories.

This was the book that got me hooked on the comics habit 40 years ago, as I discuss in my new blog. Great timing, Brian!

It must be only *my* deranged mind that wishes Superman had used a movie with a soundtrack that goes, “Boom-chicka-pow-pow”…. :)
He was quickly forgotten but wasn’t the Nightwing character in Team Titans (For those too young, this was DC’s attempt to capitalize on the success of the New Teen Titans which ended up being one of those books that, in fact, helped to hasten the *end* of that success.)

Didn’t finish my thought: Wasn’t that Nightwing character (some kind of future, alternate reality, X-Men rip-off version of Dick Grayson) a vampire?

In the Super Powers mini-series the Supe’s Kirby faces can be seen.

This reminds me of Neal Adams’ comment about DC’s lack of judgment in letting Kirby write his own dialog.

Don’t hold us in suspense, Fraser! What did Adams say about Kirby’s dialogue?

The only problem therew could be with it is that is shows up the other Superman line comics for the tedious, created-in-a-bank pap to which they aspired.

IIRC (it’s in the Krypton Chronicles, if anyone’s interested), it was that Kirby hadn’t written his own dialog in years and it showed.

What was their post-Crisis origin?

I remember Karl Kesel (of course) brought back Dragoran and Lupek in a Superboy storyline which seemed to keep the Transilvane origin – it even had a cute gag where they were shown inside a vehicle, and then when Superboy rips the vehicle open he’s baffled to find it empty … but a tiny missile comes shooting out of it, presumably containing its miniturised crew.

But no-one at DC seemed to care much what Karl Kesel was doing with Kirby concepts as long as he could tie them into a Super-Family crossover when required, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they were given an incompatible origin somewhere else.

Did they actually just have Jimmy say, “Ye Gods”?!

Pack, 2011:
“Wasn’t that Nightwing character (some kind of future, alternate reality, X-Men rip-off version of Dick Grayson) a vampire?”

No, but Dagon was.
Kind of a Michael Morbius (sp?) deal.
(In case you still care!)

P.S.: For a bit of context: Dagon and Nightwing are both from Team Titans.

I remember reading this back in the 70s. One thing I enjoyed was superman’s sense of being the smartest guy in the room, someone who was clued in on what was going on behind the scenes. Kind of like the Doctor in Doctor Who. Superman’s not always been written as highly intelligent, but he was written that way in this particular arc under Kirby ( which was also part of the ongoing set up for the Darkseid / New Gods story line).

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