One of my earliest memories of Dracula is a disturbing image of a Dracula doll with the arm pulled off. Over the last few years, I have tried to find out the origin of this image, and I finally tracked it down--the image is an illustration by Mordicai Gerstein from Frankenstein Moved in on the Fourth Floor, a chapter book by Elizabeth Levy. When I read this book as a child, I can remember spending lots of time poring over the illustrations, which have a rich shadowy depth. This image appears right before the end of the book, and it left me with a creepy, melancholy feeling that has always stayed with me. In this image, I love how the doll is partially in the shadow.
Here is another wonderful image of the doll:
I love the movement of this image--the viewer gets the feeling that they are walking down the sidewalk into the setting sun along with the characters.
Elizabeth Levy wrote a series of monster books starring Sam and Robert Bamford. From what I have read, this is a wonderful series that features the two brothers solving mysteries in which there might be a vampire or a monster. I see these as a precursor to Goosebumps, which would follow a little over a decade later.
When I special ordered a copy of Frankenstein Moved in on the Fourth Floor, I also ordered another title that intrigued me in the Sam and Robert series: Dracula is a Pain in the Neck. As soon as I opened this book, I remembered seeing these illustrations as well. This one in particular really captured my imagination:
This image tells a creepy and evocative story: two boys in summer camp outfits, burying a Dracula doll as the sun sets. It makes me want to find out more.
Frankenstein Moved in on the Fourth Floor was released in 1979 when I was about six-years-old. I probably read it a couple of years after than when I was about eight. It makes me wonder if this image of a creepy Dracula doll was planted deep in my subconscious, and that is why I wrote "The Vampire Bridegroom," which also features a creepy Dracula-esque vampire doll.
I was just marveling at how much creepy personality that Dracula dolls conveys when I noticed that his eyes are pointed in different direction in the illustrations. I am absolutely sure that makes a subliminal impact.