“‘Twas a Dark and Stormy Night”
Writer: Dana Moreshead
Pencils: David Ross
Inks: Al Milgrom
Colours: Brad Vancata
Letters: Brad Joyce
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Original publication date: October 1990
Sink your teeth into an early Halloween spectacular as vampire expert Dr. Cait Coker, editor of The Global Vampire, joins Anna, Mav, and Andrew to talk Excalibur #30, “‘Twas a Dark and Stormy Night,” in which Meggan’s got new fangs and birthday boy Alistaire forgets Kurt’s always had them. We talk gender, sexuality, magic, and—yes!—vampires, sorting through the significance of Meggan biting Kurt, Kurt being locked in the closet, Meggan making it to the end, and Brian being confused about everything. Co-starring Dr. Strange and the always memorable Rintrah. (Not as podcast guests, unfortunately!)
On Alysande’s perspective as framing device:
“I like the way the story’s framed – this idea of Alysande as your viewpoint character at the start. It helps us understand Excalibur as a group and her twin brother Alistaire’s sense of belonging within that group. Alysande – a skepetic, a rule-follower – sees her brother completely immersed in this weird Excalibur world. He’s still her brother. But this is not her world anymore.” -Andrew
On Meggan’s version of vampirism:
“There’s no folkloric or literary frame of reference for the vampirism of Meggan in this comic. The insistence on turning to dust at dawn is from early cinema, and the green skin is probably inspired by the Wicked Witch in the film version of The Wizard of Oz.” -Cait
On sexual meanings of vampirism:
“Vampires are associated with the ‘guilt reduction hypothesis,’ which is the idea that the vampire represents a pressure release valve by which characters are empowered to fulfill their sexual fantasies in a way that civilized society otherwise wouldn’t allow.” -Andrew
On vampires as metaphor:
“Vampire stories are always about cultural anxieties, surrounding what you’re supposed to be versus what you are, and how you feel about it. There’s lots of queer coding. There’s also racial and ethnic connotations; fear of immigrants is at the heart of Dracula.” -Cait
On Meggan biting Kurt (off-panel):
“For me, the issue with this issue is an absence. I really, really, really want a scene where Meggan bites Kurt – to have that play out the way those types of scenes usually play out in vampire mythology, with all the sexual connotations at play. It would be hard to make that a bad scene.” -Andrew
On Kurt and the closet:
“Kurt’s locked in this closet, and Alistaire’s hitting on Rachel, who has a concussion – this really reads as some classic overcompensation. There’s a particular anxiety related to Kurt who, unlike Brian and Meggan, isn’t already part of a fluid bonded pair. Alistaire is convinced the exchange of bodily fluids has made him dangerous.” -Cait
On the Dr. Strange as deus ex machina:
“Dr. Strange is barely a character here. He’s essentially a Ghostbuster. Which is lazy. I would have rather if Kurt had called Amanda. There would be more of a story there.” -Mav
On the conclusion:
“The ending is cheesy and a bit out-of-character, but the joke worked for me. I liked the story beat of Kurt telling everyone to calm down, and everyone telling Kurt to shut up. To the extent we read Kurt as the leader – he’s the one who’s calm and manages the volatile personalities. I read this as riffling on that.” -Anna
Want more Cait Coker?
Check out her award-winning edited collection The Global Vampire: Essays on the Undead in Popular Culture Around the World!
And here’s some Halloween Voxpopcast episodes about monsters (and vampires!) if you want to keep the conversation going!
e78: Monster Studies-201: Course Syllabus
e30. Monster Mash 2: Breaking Twilight
And here’s Andrew’s Claremont Run video about toxic elements of Brian and Meggan’s relationship:
And as usual:
You can find Anna on Twitter (@peppard_anna) and on her podcast with Andrew and Michael Hancock, Three Panel Contrast (@3PanelContrast).
You can find Andrew on Twitter (@ClaremontRun).
You can find Mav on Twitter (@chrismaverick) and on his podcast, VoxPopcast (@VoxPopcast).