Guest Post: The need for anti-vampire heroes by Jason Henderson
When I was a kid I loved vampires, but I loved Van Helsing more. Not just the doddering German professor of Stoker’s Dracula, but the version of Van Helsing that Peter Cushing played in movies I caught on TV and video—athletic, resourceful, clever. Always weaker than his opponent, with far less experience and resources. Van Helsing was my Batman—you could be Van Helsing, as far as what he was capable of. You’d likely never become a vampire, but take enough survival courses and do enough pull-ups and you could probably become Van Helsing. Take enough classes and you can learn Chinese.
This mattered to me as a kid, to think you could make something of yourself. You could change the kind of person you were, make good choices and bad ones and learn, and get better. Van Helsing was that for me.
So for me, pitching a series based around the classic hero of Dracula was a no-brainer. There was never a chance that I would write a story with the vampire as the hero. The real question is—why was this even unusual?
Now, there are a lot of vampire hunters out there—Vampire Princess Miyu beget Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Dracula beget Blade beget Van Helsing again.
We hear all the time that producers and editors and therefore the writers who feed them material think in “like X but Y” formulations. “It’s like Wizard of Oz but with Dolphins.” “It’s like Twilight but with Sentient Tractors.” And it’s true, we do that. But it’s not as mercenary as it sounds. “Like X but Y” is the way you describe in a conversation what writers do anyway. It’s the kind of game we played when we first started writing; the very first writing formulation for me when I was, “I want to write a story like the one I just read in Twilight Zone magazine, but here’s how I will make it mine.”
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