“Those whom god wishes to destroy, he first makes mad.” With this quote begins Renfield A Tale of Madness, a graphic novel written by Gary Reed and a splinter tale from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, featuring the bug-eating madman as the central figure.
A minor character in the pages of Stoker’s novel, the Renfield portrayed here is loquacious, intelligent, and sympathetically motivated. The majority of the tale takes place from Renfield’s limited perspective, covering the events of the Dracula novel mostly from his room in Dr. Seward’s asylum for the criminally insane.
While a ‘Dracula’ related story, the Count barely makes an appearance in this book, despite his presence being the driving force behind the action and atrocity. Everything that occurs is an aftershock of the Dracula’s presence, driving Renfield’s madness to depraved heights as his shadow creeps across London and the asylum itself.
Initially Renfield is a willing pawn and dupe to Dracula’s dark designs for London. Dracula exploits Renfield’s madness and visions, promising the gift of vampiric immortality and preparing him for such by exacerbating his insanity with the words ‘The Blood is the Life.’
Renfield is driven to darker and more depraved acts as he acts in service to the dark count, yet through the course of the novel his motivations shift and change as the scope of Dracula’s horror is fully unveiled, and the real threat to his immortal soul and very humanity becomes paralyzing.
Upon meeting Mina Murray and realizing the count’s machinations for her, he is driven him to take action against his avowed master, finally understanding it is not merely his own humanity in peril, but all of it.
While fans of the novel know the inevitable outcome and the price of betraying the master vampire, Renfield’s journey through madness, darkness, and ultimately redemption is a haunting masterwork and exquisite read. Enhancing the narrative is Galen Showman’s breathtaking artwork.
Deceptively simple, each frame is drenched in gothic atmosphere and clean lines. His figures are beautiful and haunting, conveying equally the horrific vision and quiet innocence. Each panel is gorgeously detailed, with historically accurate details permeating each panel, even as they follow the novel’s narrative closely.
His portrayals of the characters are very accurate to the novel’s description, eschewing the more popular visions of Dracula and his hunters in favor of something more accurate to the book. For any fans of the Dracula tale in any interpretation, Renfield A Tale Of Madness is a beautifully rendered tale shedding light and insight into relatively minor supporting character, an artistic and literary gem than any vampire fan should embrace completely.
" One thing vampire children are taught is, never run with a wooden stake." -- Jack Handy, 'Deep Thoughts'