Bram Stoker's Darcula is everywhere. Not many fantastic creatures have let a similar impression on their contemporary audience, quite like the light-skinned transsylvanian count has. Since his immigration to Central Europe in 1897, he has never stopped creeping about in our livingrooms. He comes disguised in many forms and inhabits various media. Unsurprisingly, it didn't take long until the US comic book industry started to celebrate the pale bloodsucker.
When the Comics Code Authority relaxed its politics and dropped the ban on vampires in comic books in 1971, Marvel Comics chose to jump on the little train of horrors. They launched a vampire comic book series in April 1972 and, of course, chose Bram Stoker's famous Dracula to become their main protagonist.
The first six issues of The Tomb of Dracula were written in turn by Gerry Conway, Archie Goodwin, and Gardner Fox, before Marv Wolfman took over and started to take command of the series' script. Together with Gene Colan (pencils), he shaped the series right up until the end - in August 1979.
With its 70 issues, The Tomb of Dracula had become the longest running comic book with a villain as its main character. Being a tricky creature by nature, "The Count" usually played the role of supernatural menace that was fought by a group of vampire hunters around Dr. Quincy Harker. Yet if it fit into his scheme – and Marvel's ideas for a storyline – he somtimes chose to join forces with his enemies to battle a common threat. And sometimes, he even fought other supernatural beasties on his own, embellishing the Marvel Universe quite a bit.
While the series was ongoing, Darcula often served as supervillain in crossovers. Other characters of the Marvel Universe like Blade, Spider-Man, Werewolf by Night or the X-Men were confronted with His Spookyness and a variety of Marvel heroes like Doctor Strange and the Silver Surfer had guest appearances in his series.
As Marv Wolfman had developed a very complex storyline around Bram Stoker's really simple character, it comes a s no surprise that he lost track eventually. In the end the story had become so twisted and entangled that Marvel decided to put a stop to it with the 70th issue. Dracula had outgrown them.
Still, a big portion of the series' sucess may well have been due to its closeness to other, more prominent media, such as film & television: Obviously, Gene Colan had based his interpretation of Dracula on the actor Jack Palance who played "The Count" in a film and almost forgotten TV show in 1973.
Other prominent artist also contributed largely to the story: Gil Kane drew many of the covers for the first few years, as he did for many other Marvel titles and legendary Tom Palmer inked the whole series.
MArvel also was quite active in the marketing department to further the series' success: The magazine, "Dracula Lives!" was published as a supplement by Marvel's imprint Curtis Magazines from 1973 to 1975 and a "Giant-Size" companion provided more quarterly stories and ran for five issues during the mid-1970s.
When the series ended in 1979, it featured Quincy Harker's death and Dracula's apparent death and dispersal. Soon The Count came back: Six issues of a black-and-white magazine also called The Tomb of Dracula followed, featuring stories of a freshly resurrected Bloodsucker - drawn by Gene Colan and inked once again by Tom Palmer. Well, sometimes they return especially when they are immortal.