Wolfman, Marv

Wolfman, Marv (1946–)

(pop culture)

Marv Wolfman, the writer for Marvel Comics’ The Tomb of Dracula has been the comic book world’s most prolific writer of vampire stories in the last decades of the twentieth century. He grew up in Brooklyn and Flushing, New York, and, while in high school, he became interested in comic books. He was intrigued by a fanzine called Alter Ego, produced by future cartoonist Roy Thomas (who would go on to produce the graphic art version of Bram Stoker‘s Dracula), and subsequently produced several of his own. He attended Queens College in the 1960s as an art major, during which time he wrote and sold his first stories for comic books.

Following graduation, he taught school on Long Island for a year and landed a job with a comic book house as an assistant editor. One of the earliest stories he wrote was for Skywald Publishers’ Psycho, a black-and-white comic magazine. At the beginning of 1973—a year and a half and one job later—Wolfman moved to Marvel (where Roy Thomas was an editor), and was assigned the task of writing for The Tomb of Dracula, already in its sixth issue.

Working with artist Gene Colan, Wolfman turned it into one of the longest-running vampire series in American comics history. At the time he took over the series, he had little background or interest in vampires or Dracula and got started by a first reading of Bram Stoker’s novel. While doing the series he created the characters Blade the Vampire Slayer, Frank Drake, Rachel Van Helsing, Quincy Harker, and Hannibal King, most of whom, especially Blade, continue to this day in Marvel Comics. At the same time he assumed duties for Marvel’s black-and-white magazine, Dracula Lives!, he was the primary writer for Werewolf by Night, and wrote additional stories for other black and whites, Marvel Preview and Vampire Tales. Wolfman left Marvel in 1979 and The Tomb of Dracula, which had become a black-and-white magazine, was soon discontinued. He became a senior editor at DC Comics in 1980s, where he worked on a variety of projects throughout the 1980s. Most notably, he created the second series for which he has become best known, Team Titans, the story of a group of teenage superheroes, including Night Rider, a vampire. The series won a number of awards and became one of DC’s top sellers, until the series was turned over to others in whose hands it languished.

Since leaving DC as an editor in 1987, Wolfman has worked on a variety of projects for different companies. In 1990 he wrote the four-part vampire oriented R.I.P. Comics Module for TSR, Inc. which was then developing its vampire role-playing game, Ravensloft. A year later he teamed with his old colleague Gene Colan to produce a four-part sequel to The Tomb of Dracula (Marvel was just beginning its brief vampire revival) which brought the characters (Dracula, Frank Drake, Blade) up to the 1990s. Frequently overlooked among Wolfman’s credits is the spoof on his Marvel series, which he did in the final issue of the Goofy comic book, The Tomb of Goofula, one of the very few vampire stories ever to appear in a Walt Disney production. (Wolfman served as an editor at Disney for four years, from 1990–1994.) In the 1990s, with fellow TV writer, Craig Miller, Wolfman formed Wolfmill Entertainment, a company dedicated to creating quality children’s television programming. The company’s first production, Pocket Dragon Adventures, an animation series for the Bohbot Kids Network, premiered in 1996 and ran for fifty-two episodes.

In the later 1990s, Marvel worked to bring Wolfman’s character, Blade the Vampire Slayer, to the screen in a film starring Wesley Snipes. It was successful enough to lead to two sequels. In 1999, Wolfman sued Marvel Characters, Inc. and its licensing partners, attempting to gain ownership of the characters he created while an employee at the company. Marvel, like most other companies at the time, considered themselves the owner of such characters. In the trial, held November 15–17, 1999, Wolfman attempted to argue that since he owned the characters, Marvel could not license characters such as Blade to motion picture companies. Unfortunately for Wolfman, the court ruled in Marvel’s favor.

Through the first decade of the twenty-first century, Wolfman has rarely returned to the vampire themes in his work.

Sources:

“Marv Wolfman Trial.” The Comics Journal. Part 1: 236 (August 2001): 22–84. Posted at http://www.tcj.com/236/wolfman1.html. Accessed September 15, 2009.
Wolfman, Marv. “Yes, Marv Wolfman Is His real Name!” Dracula Lives! 4 (January 1994): 49.
The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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