The Proposition

In the heady days before the Internet, connecting with vampire fans, enthusiasts and scholars meant joining a vampire society. Many published their own newsletters or journals: the Vampire Studies Society, for instance, published the Journal of Vampirism (1977–1979). Alternatively, you could’ve subscribe to stand-alone publications like John L. Vellutini’s Journal of Vampirology (1984–1990).

The link between these groups and vampirology is highlighted by Jay Stevenson: “Unlike demonology, which once enjoyed a certain degree of official support from the Church, vampirology has no major institutional underpinnings outside of fan clubs and research societies” (2002, 28). Indeed, from that bedrock, one of the most popular—and important—vampire books emerged: J. Gordon Melton’s The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead (1994):

During the course of writing this book, I met with numerous people involved at various levels with vampirism in the popular culture and corresponded with many of the leaders of vampire organizations and publishers of vampire fanzines. Martin Riccardo of Vampire Studies in Chicago was particularly helpful in call my attention to the location of needed material (xxii).

The problem is, most of these organisations and publications are defunct. I’m a member of one the few holdouts: the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, Canadian chapter. It publishes a yearly volume called the Journal of Dracula Studies and quarterly newsletter, The Borgo Post—which features “the first vampire-related article I’ve submitted for a print publication” (Hogg 2011). Articles published in the Journal of Dracula Studies are hosted online (“Journal of Dracula Studies” 2013)—but, to my knowledge, is one of few print-based vampire organisation publication available in this format. Even so, the journal is still in publication—and the articles aren’t scans, but unpaginated rtf documents. What about periodicals from other organisations—or stand-alones—no longer in circulation?

Occasionally, certain issues can be found on online bookshops, but they’re not cheap. A listing on AbeBooks.com for the “Vampire Information Exchange Newsletter #56 December 1991” (2013) is on sale for US$31.93—not including shipping. With prohibitive pricing and limited availability, how do we make the publications and their content more accessible? I addressed the issue in an article I wrote for the second volume of Vampire News and offered a solution: “host them online.”

Two years ago, I discussed the possibility of a “Vampire Journal Article Database” … Library users, researchers and university students will readily recognize this concept if they’re familiar with e-journal databases like JSTOR, Academic Search Complete and the Directory of Open Access Journals. My proposition is this: a database of vampire periodicals–journals, newsletters, ‘zines–with searchable and downloadable content.

Material could be accessed by category, title, author, publication type, date, you name it. The issues would be rendered and uploaded as optical character recognition (OCR) pdf files, available under open access principles–“the practice of providing unrestricted access via the Internet to peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles” … –or for a small fee divvied up between the host and the article’s author (Hogg 2013, 58).

Sounds simple enough, but we’re already walking through a minefield. Firstly, tracking down these various publications—and obtaining them—is no easy feat as I’ve already outlined. Second, copyright: would the authors or editors be willing to have the content hosted in the first place? If so, under what circumstances? Who knows. So, as an alternative, I propose something like the “The Locus Index to Science Fiction: 1984-1998” (2010), which hosts listings for authors, publications and stories. Barring that, there’s always establishing a wiki site like the Dracula Research Center which hosts the Journal of Dracula Studies—except, in this case, the articles wouldn’t be downloadable, just listed. That way, if the reader comes across an article they may be interested in, they could always try hunting down the specific issue.

I also propose a different name for the database than the one I suggested in my article. I’d call it the Vampire Periodicals Database—VPDb or VPDfor short—so it doesn’t restrict the database to journals, but opens the door to magazines and newsletters, too.

I don’t own as many vampire periodicals as I’d like to, but I have had a crack at cataloguing their contents with Microsoft Word 2010. Here’s an extract:

Vampire-Periodicals_Page_04cropped

What do you think? Does the project interest you? Does it sound feasible? Did you—or do you—publish, edit or contribute to a vampire periodical? Would you like to help get the project off the ground? Share your thoughts in the comments section or contact me, directly.

References

Hogg, Anthony. 2011. “Unearthing Nosferatu.” Diary of an Amateur Vampirologist (blog), February 28, http://doaav.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/unearthing-nosferatu.html.

———. 2013. “A Vampiric Proposal.” In Vampire News: The (Not So) End Times Edition!, vol. 2, 56–9. N.p.: Crazy Duck Press.

“Journal of Dracula Studies.” 2013. Dracula Research Center. Accessed August 31, 2013, http://www.blooferland.com/drc/index.php?title=Journal_of_Dracula_Studies.

“The Locus Index to Science Fiction: 1984-1998.” 2010. Locus Online. Accessed September 1, 2013, http://www.locusmag.com/index/0start.htm.

Melton, J. Gordon. 1994. The Vampire Book: The Enyclopedia of the Undead. Detroit: Visible Ink Press.

Stevenson, Jay. 2002. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vampires. Indianapolis, IN: Alpha.

“Vampire Information Exchange Newsletter #56 December 1991.” 2013. AbeBooks.com. Accessed August 31, 2013, http://www.abebooks.com/Vampire-Information-Exchange-Newsletter-%2356-December/88102280/bd.

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