Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Auld Lang Syne

I wish my readers a safe and Happy New Year. I'd also like to thank you for your readership, too—but it's time to end this thing.

The posts here have been sparse—nothing since I mentioned the round table discussion I took part in for Real Vampire Life, an independent e-zine. But I haven't been quiet: I've just been blogging elsewhere. Under the same blog name, too. The aim I established in this blog's instigation on September 20, 2011, hasn't changed.

Comments will be closed for this blog, but I'm not shutting this down completely. The blog will stay up. After all, there's a lotta good stuff here: 142 posts (including this one).

One of my favourites is my interview with Edward Meyer, Ripley Believe It or Not's Vice President of Exhibits and Archives. We discussed "antique" vampire killing kits. I didn't expect him to be so candid about their origins.

I say "antique" because they're not. There's no evidence vampire killing kits were produced during the 19th century and sold to travellers. I've written about them on this blog several times: 

I was particularly proud to see my posts on the subject from this blog and its predecessor, Diary of an Amateur Vampirologist, cited in an article by Jonathan Ferguson called "To Kill a Vampire," Fortean Times, no. 288 (2012). 
If you want to read more about the subject, check out Joe Nickell's Tracking the Man-Beasts: Sasquatch, Vampires, Zombies, and More (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2011), pp. 125–9.

On a related note, I've also noticed a lotta hits for "Auguste Delagrange." His name turns up in association with vampire killing kits, because an image of his staked heart in a box has been circulating the 'net. No need to be alarmed, though: Delagrange didn't exist and the heart is only a prop.

Another popular subject's been the Nicolas Cage "vampire" picture. Remember that one? Back in 2011, an eBay seller claimed to have a photograph proving Nicolas Cage was a vampire because he had an old photograph that kinda looked like him. 
It probably goes without saying that the claim was a joke, but nonetheless, I covered that story—and its inevitable imitators—here:
I also unravelled the "Whitby Vampire" hoax—a story perpetuated by Sean "Vebjørn Hästehufvud" Manchester. His highly dubious claims about the Highgate Vampire aside, he also has a penchant for sockpuppetry and identity theft, attested by him ripping off my blog title, my spin-off Facebook group and its banner. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, eh? Not always.

On a lighter note, I've also had the chance to unravel a few other mysteries. For instance, I've long wondered who created this, one of my favourite vampire images:

Commentator "Little Socks" solved it for me. It's called Penanggalan and was painted by Chad Savage in 1994. He also answered some queries I had about it.

I've also delved into a supposed vampire investigation by the Duc de Richelieu—and been left wanting. Niels K. Petersen's commentary on it inspired a post, which I followed with another.

On the flipside, there's also stuff I've stumbled upon—which totally caught me off guard. For instance, I discovered that "undead"—a term virtually synonymous with vampires—existed long before Stoker supposedly coined it. And it initially didn't refer to vampires, either.

I was also surprised to discover a connection between the world's first murderer, Cain, and vampires that significantly predates Vampire: The Masquerade. I also came across a direct link between the plague and vampires, something I was previously skeptical of, due to lack of evidence. Both issues—as well as something linking vampires and bat metamorphosis—are covered here.

I've also been an advocate for certain people and books. I dealt with the theft of author Charles E. Butler's Dracula Facebook group. I used the post to promote a petition asking for it to be handed back to him. The imitative wasn't successful, but did lead to the creation of another popular Facebook group, "Count Dracula." I stepped in as administrator after Butler stepped down. As of this writing, it has 1,423 members.
I also ponied up money for a Kickstarter project: the publication of John W. Morehead and Kim Paffenroth's The Undead and Theology. That effort was much more successful: Pickwick Publications released it last year. It's available on Amazon.

I'd still love to see the papers from the Vampire (&) Science: A Trans-Disciplinary Conference held at Trinity College Dublin's School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies on April 20, 2012, published though. It truly is "The Book That Must Be."

There's so many other things I could cover, but New Year's Eve festivities await and I've gotta wrap this thing up. Thank you to my guest posters, Jane (part 1; part 2) and James Lyon. You both gave great reads.

Thank you, Peter Mario Kreuter for your patience and the brilliant interview you gave for this blog (part 1; part 2). It's great that writers like you are truly invigorating the field.

Last but not least, thank you commentators, correspondents, readers and followers. As much as I enjoy writing about this stuff in its own right, it's great to know you're out there, wending your way through my ramblings! Thank you. You're awesome.

Enjoy the New Year, everyone. I hope it bears good fruit. So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, au revoir and don't forget to join me on my WordPress blog. Here's to many more adventures together. 
Peace out!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Round Table Discussion

I recently had the privilege of taking part in a round table discussion called "Vampyre ~ Superstition, Society and Subculture" for Real Vampire Life, an independent e-zine.

Real Vampire Life

The other guests were The Dark Rose Journal's creator and editor, Julia DarkRose Ray; author Gabrielle Faust and Smoke and Mirrors administrator, Tania (a.k.a Hellkat). I was very impressed by the questions on offer. Here's a taste:
Many of the ancient “vampires” were associated with disembodied, or metamorphic, “spirits”, such as the Tagalog (Philippines) Mandurugo and the Impundulu of the Eastern Cape region of Africa, how important do you think it was for the mythical vampire to graduate from these type of creatures to “physical” incarnations to sustain the mythology?
Certainly not the stuff of "So, what got you into vampires?" variety! It was quite a challenge—in a good way. Be sure to check it out! In the meantime, I'd like to complement the host, Tim, for his thought-provoking questions and the fellow participants for their intriguing responses.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Upcoming Books 6

For the previous instalment, click here. Time for another round-up of upcoming non-fiction vampire books! Note: publication dates and titles are sometimes subject to change.

1 August 2013


Vampire Culture / Maria Mellins

The Vampire Community is notoriously prickly when it comes to coverage of their culture—Joseph Laycock's Vampires Today (2009) remains relatively unscathed. Will this "ethnographic study" pass muster? We'll see.

But if anyone wants a taste of her previous work on this subject, I recommend tracking down her 2008 article for the International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics, "The Female Vampire Community and Online Social Networks: Virtual Celebrity and Mini Communities: Initial Thoughts."

15 August 2013

Fanged Fan Fiction: Variations on Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries / Maria Lindgren Leavenworth and Malin Isaksson

The release dates are a bit hazy on this one. Amazon.com lists 30 September; the publisher's website lists "Spring/Summer 2013." I'm using the Amazon.co.uk date.

This is certainly a niche field—vampire fan fic. The book includes examples, apparently. Whether that'll make you want it more depends on your taste. Nonetheless, it's interesting to see a full-length work devoted to that genre.

1 September 2013

Images of the Modern Vampire: The Hip and the Atavistic / edited by Barbara Brodman and James E. Doan

It's rare you'll see a sequel to a non-fiction vampire anthology—and this is it. It follows on from The Universal Vampire: Origins and Evolution of a Legend (2013) by the same editors. According to this H-Net Discussion Network conversation by its co-editor, it
will be an eclectic mélange of essays, including a discussion of evolution and atavism in the vampire film, The Wisdom of Crocodiles (1998); critical pieces that examine the modern Asian vampire, on stage, in graphic novels and in film; images of the Vampire in contemporary Japan (where, according to its author, vampires should be “beautiful”); an analysis of the vampire in popular Russian culture; and the obligatory studies of vampires in The Twilight Saga and the True Blood series.
You had me at "obligatory"! In all seriousness, though, I'm liking the breadth of vampire scholarship Brodman and Doan have added to the genre. Quite eclectic.

11 November 2013

The Vampire in Contemporary Popular Literature / Lorna Piatti-Farnell

Amazon.co.uk lists 23 December 2013 for this one. I'm guessing it'll cover the usual Twilight, Vampire Diaries, Southern Vampire Mysteries stuff. Still, it's good to have up-to-date writings in this field.

20 December 2013

Sexuality in Bram Stoker's Dracula

Amazon.co.uk presently credits to "Greenhaven Press Editor", so I'm guessing it'll be another anthology. I tell you what, though, I'm really getting into non-fiction vampire anthologies. They're easier to digest.

It'll be interesting to see what they can squeeze out of a book Maurice Richardson once famously described as a "kind of incestuous, necrophilious, oral-anal-sadistic all-in-all wrestling match."

31 December 2013

Open Graves, Open Minds: Representations of Vampires and the Undead from the Enlightenment to the Present Day / edited by Sam George and Bill Hughes

Its publisher, Manchester University Press, lists "December  2013" as the publication date. "Open Graves, Open Minds" was briefly mentioned in my previous blog. It also made a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance—as a poster for a conference held on 16–17 April 2010. Yep, the conference's papers are finally being published. Going by its contents, though, there's precious little in the way of the vampire's evolution from the Enlightenment era. The concentration's on the literary aspect from the 19th century onward. As most vampire books tend to be.

1 July 2014

Written in Blood: A Cultural History of the British Vampire / Paul Adams

This book is so far along the line, that not even its publisher, The History Press, has a listing for it. However, I was able to dig up the book's description via JS Campus:
Vampires, chilling supernatural creatures of the night - do they really exist? The British Isles has a remarkable association with the realms of the undead, from the nineteenth-century world of Croglin Grange, Varney the Vampire and Stoker's Dracula, through to Hammer Films and the modern phenomenon of the Highgate Vampire. In this new and thought-provoking book, illustrated with many never before seen photographs and drawing on extensive original research, is a detailed and fascinating exploration of the history of British vampirism in both fact and fiction; a modern guide where every page is truly written in blood ...
It sounds pretty generic, but the promise of it being a "thought-provoking book, illustrated with many never before seen photographs and drawing on extensive original research" has got me on the hook. Here's hoping it lives up to its promise.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Nice Try, Parasite!

Vebjørn Hästehufvud is up to his old tricks again. Not content with ripping off my blog title and Facebook group, he's now trying another tack: suggesting I ripped him off. 

My friend, Angie "Blackorchid" Watkins, posted a link to my exposé on her Facebook group, "Highgate! Highgate! Highgate!". Here's what Hästehufvud had to say:


On the surface, that's pretty damning—only if you completely ignore the times the respective groups were founded. Here's mine:


And here's Hästehufvud's:


If you don't see the same times appear when you check the links out, there's a reason for that. Fellow "Vampirologist" member, Roger Peterson, explains:


Hästehufvud also failed to explain how my time travelling capabilities were responsible for the way his fellow admin, Veritas Aequitas, was able to crib my banner design:

Fortunately, Hästehufvud addressed that issue—by not acknowledging the theft, retaining the title design, changing the background pic and adding another shitty filter on top:


Apart from this pathetic attempt at revisionism, Hästehufvud has also edited out references to Sean Manchester in the banner. Pretty timely, in the wake of my outing Manchester as one of the group's admins.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Parasite Strikes Again!

Readers may be familiar with a parasitic plagiarist who has tailed my online writings for several years. If not, read on

Not content with stealing my blog names, the parasite in question has now ripped-off my Facebook group's name, too. This shady character masquerades under several usernames, including "Demonologist", "Vampirologist", "Dennis Crawford", "The Overseer" (ripping-off a username I used to use), "Gothic", "Arminius Vámbéry", "B.O.S.", "British Occult Society" and "Vebjørn Hästehufvud". And those are just the usernames I can confirm. I'm sure there's many others.

For the record, I established and promoted my Facebook group on 25 June 2013. Hästehufvud's rip-off was formed on...26 June 2013. The shifty bugger doesn't wait long, I can tell you that!

As per usual with Hästehufvud's Facebook group rip-offs, it has three admins: himself, "Veritas Aequitas" and Bishop Seán Manchester—the unholy trinity of dodginess. His group also apes postings I make on my group. For instance, when I shared a link on Jewish vampirology, Aequitas did the same thing, shortly after.

My group's banner—wonderfully designed by David MacDowell Blue—was also ripped-off. Compare the original...

...with this mess:


Pay close attention to the title fonts. Here's a close-up of the original:

Now here's the rip-off, close-up:

That's right: all he's done is cropped and copied my group's title and added some shitty filter to it. 

Naturally, the group's admins are banking on none of its members noticing their pathetic identity-thieving behaviour. Hopefully, with this exposé, they'll get a better appreciation for it!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Vampirologist on Facebook

Soon after writing the previous entry, I decided to do something I've been holding off for a while: create a Facebook group spin-off of this blog. It's now set up and you can join it by clicking here.

David MacDowell Blue, editor of The Annotated Carmilla (2011) and author of Your Vampire Story (And How to Write It) (2012), created the group's banner:

Nifty. I've also created a Facebook page, too. Feel free to like that. Although there'll probably be a lot of crossovers, I'm aiming to feature different content on the group and the page. In the meantime, hope to see you on either of them!

Bite This!

I've been intermittently reading Kevin Jackson's Bite: A Vampire Handbook (2009). Bought it at a local book stall for $5 on the 10th. 

Anyway, there's a passage which caught my attention: "The word 'vampire' entered the English language in printed form in May 1732, in an article in the Gentleman's Magazine entitled 'Political Vampyres'" (p. 33).

No, it didn't. The article Jackson's referring to is actually an extract from another periodical. Indeed, if the author had actually consulted the Gentleman's Magazine issue, he would've seen its source writ large:

Google Books

Though the article in question is popularly titled "Political Vampyres", that wasn't its original name. It was the title Gentleman's Magazine bestowed upon it. It must've been for convenience, because the original article was untitled:

Eighteenth Century Collections Online

But most importantly, both sources point to an earlier source for the word: the London Journal's 11 March 1732 issue. This is the relevant portion of "Extract of a Private Letter from Vienna":

The issue incorporated a report from "Medreyga in Hungary [sic]" dated "Jan. 7, 1732", detailing a vampiric outbreak in the Serbian village of Medvedja, then under Austro-Hungarian rule. Savvy readers will recognise this as the famous Arnod Paole case.

So, to correct Jackson's assertion, The London Journal 's 11 March 1732 issue was actually responsible for the word's introduction to "the English language in printed form".
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