Just a couple of hours ago, I sent one of the books from the vampire and horror collection off to New Zealand. It was a fine copy of a rather scarce book – Vampyres – Lord Bryon to Count Dracula, Christopher Frayling, Faber & Faber, London, 1991. I corresponded a bit with the buyer, and he mentioned that rather than horror or vampires in general, he had a specific interest in Dracula, and that he also collected books in several other areas. Please note that I did not say MY vampire and horror collection. It was, until I decided to stop collecting books in this genre and I chose to move the entire collection over to the book business. Now this book is going to HIS Dracula collection.
What made me start and then stop collecting in this area, you might ask? In previous musings, I have stated “collect what you like”. I started my H. G. Wells collection for the wrong reason. I came across a nice, signed Wells item in the early days and so I decided to build upon that one book. But I did start my vampire and horror collection for a good reason. As a teen and through my 20s, I loved watching the classic old horror films – Dracula and Frankenstein films; Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney. And even better was the whole Hammer Films series of horror movies featuring the great Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. And so, I started buying books on the horror cinema, followed by horror literature. On the literature side, I bought a new book, only the second book by a fledgling horror writer – Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. One of the greatest and scariest vampire books ever! We sold this book last year. And then along came Dean Koontz. One of his early books was Whispers and it is a great horror story focused on “evil” rather than on vampires. Another great vampire novel is Fevre Dream written in 1982 by George R. R. Martin well before his Game of Thrones series. Fevre Dream has been referred to as “Bram Stoker meets Mark Twain” and the vampire’s domain is a Mississippi riverboat.
This collecting interest spilled over into my academic education! In the early 1990s, I was taking my MBA at the Kellogg Graduate School of Business, Northwestern University, Evanston, Il. One of my courses was Entrepreneurship, and each study group of 6 people had to choose a business to start up and write a business plan. I will always remember the evening when the 6 of us got together to choose a business. My mates had drugs, medical devices, helicopter commuting service (Chicago, after all), and high-tech wizardry. When they looked at me, I simply stated “Transylvania Video”. They were stunned then laughed and at the end of the evening we were into the horror business. This was before the wonders of the internet, so our correspondence into the industry was by letter and telephone. We garnered some real interest in the plan and at one point we were corresponding with Elvira’s agent. We passed with high marks.
I am convinced that if we had actually started the business, we would have made a killing (sorry)! For in the mid-90s, young adults and women discovered the genre and it took off like a rocket. Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie came out in 1992 and the television series ran from 1997 to 2003. Then True Blood followed by The Vampire Diaries. And many more but there were even more book vampire series such as Undead, Love at Stake, Bloodlines and Twilight.
The re-energized horror genre was of little interest to me. I found that I was buying less and less in this area and by then I had discovered Fanfrolico books, Beresford Egan, and Phil Rickman. So, when Raven & Gryphon Fine Books was started, I looked at the collection and said “Bye”.