Seth Grahame-Smith: Vampire Lover?
Pop culture generally goes through fads pretty quickly. Vampires have been popular several times throughout the course of pop-culture history, but they never really had much staying power. That is, until the mid-2000s, when a series of high-profile entertainment projects began to be released to the public. Since then, vampires have been a mainstay in pop culture.
Writer Seth Grahame-Smith has been one of the people at the forefront of this vampire renaissance. His book "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" was one of a new genre of literary mash-ups where historical characters both real and fictional work against a common foe, in this case vampires. It was the second such book that Grahame-Smith released, the first being the wildly popular "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," based on Jane Austen's famous novel.
In "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," Grahame-Smith explores the life of the famously stoic president from his childhood to his time as the leader of the United States. Though Lincoln was a real person, Grahame-Smith infuses the book with fictional accounts of him being a secret vampire hunter and killer when not performing his presidential duties. Though the premise is highly implausible, the book was so popular that Hollywood is adapting it into a film.
In addition, Grahame-Smith had a hand in the screenplay and production of the modernized version of "Dark Shadows." The film is being directed by Tim Burton, who frequently dabbles in darker fare. This film is a comedic take on the campy 1970s television show with frequent Burton collaborator Johnny Depp in the lead role of Barnabus Collins. Though dark, it has a decidedly comedic side that allows Grahame-Smith to show some range as a screenwriter.
Both of these projects are very highly anticipated. With two big vampire projects brewing at the same time, it would be easy to assume that Seth Grahame-Smith is obsessed with vampires. A closer look at his work outside of the vampire genre reveals that this may not be the case. Despite the vampire projects, Grahame-Smith actually has quite a bit of other, nonvampire work on his slate. In fact, he has so many projects going at once that one wonders if he has time to sleep.
Production partner David Katzenberg has been collaborating on an MTV show called "The Hard Times of RJ Berger" with Grahame-Smith. The show is a comedy mash-up of the popular teen comedy "Superbad" and throwback television show "The Wonder Years." There is nary a vampire nor any other supernatural creature to be found in the cast.
In terms of books, Grahame-Smith has shown an affinity for comic books, writing an overview of "Spider-Man" that Marvel honcho Stan Lee approved of. Lee even wrote the introduction for the book. He collaborated with Marvel again for "Marvel Zombies Return: Hulk," an original comic book series that is drawn by artist Richard Elson.
In fact, if you take into account "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and the comic book series, you could deduce that Grahame-Smith is just as obsessed with zombies as he is with vampires. The only real difference is that the vampire projects are a little more high profile than the zombie ones. However, zombies have entered the pop-culture zeitgeist with a fury since the popularity of "The Walking Dead."
He is also attached to another high-profile project involving imaginary creatures, this time monsters. He is set to collaborate again with director Tim Burton on a stop-motion film called "Night of the Living." A movie about the living would be a big departure from the zombies and vampires that seem to be all over Grahame-Smith's resume.
In the end, it is almost impossible to say for sure that Grahame-Smith is obsessed with vampires. If anything, he could simply be cashing in on a big fad. With so many other projects simmering right now, Grahame-Smith seems to be trying to go beyond the monster and supernatural genre. Because things change so quickly in pop culture, this is probably a good idea. Diversifying is always good in business, and Hollywood is definitely a business.
It remains to be seen if vampires will turn up again in future Grahame-Smith projects. They do seem to have some staying power in pop culture, but that could all change very quickly. Pop culture is generally very fickle, but with his long-term success and diverse projects, Grahame-Smith will not fall by the fickle pop-culture wayside. He is well on his way to becoming and remaining an important publishing and Hollywood player, vampire obsession or not.