Monday, 26 June 2017

Dark Shadows

We never got Dark Shadows here in the UK, though let's face it, the idea of a daytime soap opera that happens to feature a vampire in it's cast is an easy sell for people like us, so I'm sure we would've loved it.
The newspaper strip came in 1971, and it's a solid piece, with lots of space given to the show's standout character, tortured vamp Barnabas Collins.
For those who missed the show, or who've yet to try it out on youtube, the Collins' family are a well-to-do matriarchal clan, lurking in their gloomy mansion of Collinwood, on the suitably windswept coast of Maine, New England.
Every one of them seems to harbour a terrible secret, including Barnabas of course, who tells everyone he's writing a history of the family and therefore mustn't be interrupted during daylight hours. It's he who can sense all the ghosts and ghouls wandering around Collinwood, and who must do something about all the weirdness surrounding them all.
The scripts are fine, if a bit slow, while the art is by Ken Bald, and is nicely grim and spooky in an early Bill Sienkewicz way, although it's obvious he was only supplied a handful of reference photos of actor Jonathan Frid as Barnabas, as the same poses show up again and again. Here's the intro story.


  1. Thanks for showing these; I never knew there was a daily strip - my only experience with Dark Shadows was the Gold Key comic, which I stuck with for a while, disappointing as it turned out to be.

    The TV show never screened here either, to my knowledge, though one of the cinema adaptations - "House Of Dark Shadows" played here, though it had some kind of "Adults Only" rating, and I was way too young to be able to finagle my way in to see it.

  2. There's actually two movies, I think. I did try the one you mention one rainy Sunday afternoon, but couldn't get into it for some reason. Maybe I'll give it another try.

  3. Ken Bald's art rocks. Even though he was very dependent on swipes of photos, etc., the storytelling was very solid as most newspaper strips were. Ken Bald, to my mind, is up there with Stan Drake and Alex Kotsky in terms of great strip illustration! Check out his Dr. Kildare and Judd Saxon strip work. A joy to the eyes.