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NOCC: Vampires Throughout the Ages

Company: Wizard World
Product: New Orleans Comic Con 2013 Coverage

Last year at the NOCC 2012, I sat in a panel about Vampire Lore and Other Urban Legends hosted by Lord Chaz. In that particular panel, he discussed the local vampire lore in New Orleans and the legends of the area. I really enjoyed learning about the local stuff. This year, the panel was Vampire Lore And Other Urban Myths And Legends w/Dr. Rebecca Housel. While the titles are very similar, the actual content was very different. Personally, I enjoyed having a fresh look and new things to learn this year. Dr. Housel is about as different from Lord Chaz as could be, but just as knowledgeable about the topic. Dr. Housel is an author of quite a number of books (and a very nice person to talk with!).

According to Dr. Housel, vampire legends date way back to 10,000 years ago to the Hindu god Kali. At least that is the first time that there is any written evidence. The stories probably go back even further than that. Kali is the goddess of life and death. She is called to Earth to stop these demons that have appeared. The problem is that every time a single drop of blood is spilled, a new demon appears. To defeat the demon, she has to suck every single drop of blood from all the demons to keep any more from appearing. She then uses her very long tongue and eats all the bodies as well. 4,000 years after Kali, the stories of Lilith appear. Lilith was Adamís first wife and she was exiled for being non-submissive. She supposedly drank blood and ate flesh. The term Lullaby actually came from Lilith. A lullaby was sung to keep Lilith from coming.

Vampires are used to represent "otherness." Vampires, werewolves, and witches were all rolled up into one legend in the Middle Ages, usually in the form of a woman. Werewolves actually came from the myth of King Lycaon who was hosting Zeus for dinner. He decided to serve one of his own sons to Zeus to test and see if he knew what he was eating. He did and as punishment, he ripped off King Lycaonís head and replaced it with that of a wolf. Originally, monsters were traditionally women, at least until the 1800s when Dracula was written. Bram Stoker based his stories on Vlad the Impaler, who was a real person. In the 1400ís, he would impale people on stakes to enforce the laws of the land. This is where the concept of a stake through the heart came from.

Bram Stokerís Dracula became the definitive vampire story. In 1922, the film Nosferatu came out based upon Dracula. The lead actor was a man named Max Schreck and Max was Jewish. When WWII happened, it really cemented the legend of Nosferatu as a real vampire simply because the man playing him was Jewish, an "other." Of course, you can go back even further to ancient Rome when the emperor passed a law that you could seize property of anyone arrested, legitimately or not, which lead to the first arrest of Jews as "vampires" just so that their property could be taken.

She also mentioned the "Coffin Girls," who I had heard about from Lord Chaz last year. They were brought over to be wives for some of the richer men of the city of New Orleans and the area. They brought all of their belongings over in giant wooden boxes that looked like coffins, prompting the stories of them being vampires.

In the 80ís and 90ís, there was a resurgence of "funny" vampires with movies like Dead and Loving It. Vampires werenít really romanticized until Anne Rice. She changed vampires from dark dwelling, dirty creatures to a very romantic look, which then lead to all of the later stories of vampires, including the now sparkling Twilight vampires. A lot of this is because of a need to turn these monsters into our heroes. Ever since 9/11, men have been seen as the villains which means that we now turn to monsters to become the hero rather than the villains. A lot of these characters were pulled from comic books as well.

Dr. Rebecca Houselís panel was quite different from Lord Chazís last year, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was a whole lot of information presented, but thereís still even more that you can learn if you read her books.

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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