X1: Barnabas Goes to the Circus

“You’re Barnabas Collins, the vampire. You leave me alone.”

Hi, you’ve reached Dark Shadows Every Day. I’m not here right now, because I’m away at a conference this week. But I know you need to fill the days and nights of your tomorrows, so I’m going to suspend time and space, and fill the week with five days of odds and ends that I can’t do in a regular post.

Today, I’m going to present two short stories from The World of Dark Shadows. Allow me to explain.

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The year was 1985, and Young Danny was taking an uncertain and frightening journey through high school. I discovered that the weird old vampire show that I watched for six months in middle school was running on a local PBS station, and I was thrilled to reconnect with this cheerfully bonkers show that wasn’t like anything else on television.

There was a big gap in the story for me — WNBC stopped with Dr. Woodard’s death, and when I picked it up on NJN, it was all werewolves and antique telephones. I had a lot to learn. But this was in the dark ages before websites and episode guides, so I was pretty much on my own.

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Then I ran across this book at Barnes & Noble called Cult TV: A Viewer’s Guide to the Shows America Can’t Live Without!! — with two exclamation points, because that’s how we rolled in the 85. It only had two pages on Dark Shadows, and they weren’t that informative, but in the back there was a listing of fan clubs, including an address for a mysterious thing called The World of Dark Shadows.

So this is the most 1985 part of this story: I actually bought the book just so I could have that address. That’s how precious information was back then, you would actually pay American money in order to have some.

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So I wrote to the address, and I received in the mail this gorgeous little 76-page booklet called The World of Dark Shadows #42, and that was pretty much the day that I officially became a Dark Shadows fan. It had news, and a transcript of an interview, and stories, and poems, and cartoons, and a three-page article about a Dark Shadows newspaper comic strip story — “A Night to Dismember” — all of it written in the tiniest possible font size, because they had so much stuff to say about Dark Shadows that 76 pages could not possibly hold it all. It was, and is, utterly beautiful.

The only downside was that on the first page, it said that Grayson Hall had just died, which was kind of a bummer. I mean, more of a bummer for her than it was for me. I’m just saying. And her family, obviously, and the people who loved her, and the acting community. Look, I was 14 and I had bad priorities, okay? Jeez.

So then there was this thing in my life called being a Dark Shadows fan, and it consisted of two things — watching the show, and reading The World of Dark Shadows. I was a subscriber from October 1985 until August 2001, when it published its last issue and then exploded into a thousand websites, a Big Bang that keeps expanding outward. Twelve years later, some of those fragments came together and became this blog, and that’s where we are now.

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The World of Dark Shadows was the core Dark Shadows zine, but it wasn’t the only one. The woman who made it, Kathleen Resch, was kind of the center of this circle of creative fans who each published their own zines and story collections.

The other ones that I subscribed to were ShadowGram, Wyndcliffe Watch, Inside the Old House, The Eagle Hill Sentinel, Dark Shadows Journal and Transcending Time. There were lots of others, including The Collinsport Chronicles, The Collinsport Call, Collinwood Revisited, Wolf Tracks, The Parallel Times, The Dark Shadows Archive, The Dark Shadows Quarterly, The Dark Shadows Chronicle, The Darkest of Shadows, Shadows of the Night, In the Shadows, Lurkers in the Shadows, Tales from the Shadows, The Collective, The Music Box, The Weird Circle, Shades of Grayson, KarlenZine and Fangs for the Memories.

In fact, there were so many that there was actually a zine-review zine called Cauldon, which promised “up-to-date, comprehensive reviews of all DS zines and other DS fan products currently available. Will contain cartoons, blurbs, ads, humor section, and as many full reviews per issue as there are new zines on the market.”

As I was looking through these, I noticed an ad for a zine called The Secret Room in the mid 90s: “A publication devoted to the DS lifestyle and the Gay fan, but all fans are welcome.” I can’t believe I never got that one. If anybody has one, I would love to see any of that. It must have been amazing.

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I don’t know if many of the people who worked on these made the jump to the internet — I know that Stuart Manning turned Dark Shadows Journal into Dark Shadows Journal Online, which is a really good site.

There’s also Adriana Pena, who comments on this blog practically every day, and who was a frequent contributor to The World of Dark Shadows. Her own zine, The Collinsport Chronicles, is online on fanfiction.net, and she is awesome. All of these people are awesome.

Young Danny did contribute a little to TWoDS — just a few letters and ideas, including a lengthy and spectacularly embarrassing theory about Parallel Time, which I will share with you in its entirety when we reach that storyline. If anybody’s got some back issues and you want to skip ahead, it’s on page 129 of issue #52/53, right after an even more lengthy piece on the same subject by Adriana. And so the great wheel keeps turning.

Anyway — as long as I’m taking the week off, I’m going to share a few of my favorite things from The World of Dark Shadows. You’re going to get a couple of short stories today, some poetry on Wednesday, and some fan theories on Friday, so stay tuned for that. I have asked exactly nobody for permission to post these, so I hope nobody minds.

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Today’s stories were written by Lorelei Larking, and they were published in The World of Dark Shadows #71/72, August 1995. Please enjoy.

Barnabas Goes to the Circus
by Lorelei Larking (11 years old)

Barnabas Collins went to the circus. After the show, he went backstage to see the performers. There he found Timmy Tiger, one of the performer’s children. Barnabas was hungry, so he asked Timmy if he would like to live forever. Timmy said, “Leave me alone. I know who you are. I watch TV and I have a VCR. You’re Barnabas Collins, the vampire. You leave me alone.”

Barnabas showed Timmy his teeth. Timmy showed Barnabas his teeth. Timmy said, “You don’t scare me. My master, the animal trainer, has 30 stakes.” “He does?”  said Barnabas. “Sure he does,” said Timmy. “He uses them to hold up the tomato plants in his garden.” Barnabas got scared.

Timmy called up his friend, Tommy White-Bear. Tommy’s father was the circus dentist and he was his father’s apprentice. They gave Barnabas a good shot of gas and knocked him cold.

When Tommy looked at Barnabas’ fangs he said, “These teeth are terrible, they need immediate attention.”

He filed down Barnabas’ fangs and he put fillings in the cavities through which vampires suck blood. Timmy tried to tell Tommy he was dealing with a vampire but Tommy would not listen; he just kept saying that there was no such thing as vampires.

There would be no attacks in Collinwood for weeks. That’s how long it took Barnabas to pull the fillings out of his vampire teeth and for his fangs to grow back.

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Maggie Evans Gets Married to Willie Loomis
by Lorelei Larking (11 years old)

When Willie Loomis finally gave Maggie a stake and she killed Barnabas Collins, he turned into dust. Maggie and Willie decided that they would tell Elizabeth Collins that Barnabas went back to London and that Barnabas said that Willie could live in the Old House. Maggie and Willie decided they would get married. Maggie’s father did not want Maggie to marry Willie because before Willie had come to Collinsport he stole things. Maggie’s father tried to get Maggie not to marry Willie and to marry Joe. Joe tried to make Maggie want to marry him instead of marrying Willie, but Maggie still wanted to marry Willie. So the next day Willie and Maggie went to buy a wedding gown. A few days later they had the wedding, but nobody could believe that Maggie married Willie.

As a postscript, I believe that when Lorelei Larking grew up, she moved to England, got a job at Big Finish, and is now known by her pen name, Joe Lidster.

Tomorrow: Everything That Julia Says in Episode 361, in Alphabetical Order.

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Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

23 thoughts on “X1: Barnabas Goes to the Circus

    1. Tim Burton should have done a movie about the TV show Dark Shadows becoming a hit. A behind the scenes thing, like Ed Wood. That, I could live with.

    1. Imagine Johnny Depp playing Jonathan Frid, instead of Barnabas, with the cigarette holder, the white sweater, and the indoor sunglasses.
      Who could play Dan Curtis?

  1. CAULDRON was my zine–which I co-published with the talented artist Jane Lach. Ah, those were the days, all right! We also did a bunch of Julia-centered zines,one of which (Secret of the Chalice) is said to be the first zine with a Barnabas and Julia love scene. What fun!

            1. It was published in the early ’90s. My initial research made it seem like it was Dark Shadows specific, but apparently, it was a general queer vampire fanzine that sometimes talked about Dark Shadows. still wanna find it, though.

      1. You know, I ought to put some of them up on fanfiction.net, but at present I haven’t any up online. I do have scans of some of the ones Jane and I published–if anyone wants a digital copy email me at LPaigema @ aol . com (remove spaces)

        Enjoying the blog a lot! That fanzine post really brought back some memories!

        After my fanzine writing days, and inspired by Julia, I became Doctor Paige (Ph.D)–alas, I don’t cure vampires or build monsters but I do study Gothic literature as an associate professor at a small New England college. I also write professionally now and I do have an Amazon page with a vampire book on it. I’m still writing Gothic novels with a heavy DS flavor. DS really changed my life for the better!

          1. Well, you know, I never said I didn’t have my little hobbies on the side. LOL

            I actually developed a course on vampire literature and folklore and we discuss DS in it quite a bit. I’m working on a book-length study of Gothic romance right now. I will certainly be mentioning DS there (along with other “Marilyn” Ross titles).

            There is a scholarly book on zines called TEXTUAL POACHERS–our TALES OF HOFFMAN is mentioned in it. A proud moment! We were making history back then!

          2. Yes well it was the only thing I ever finished, ultimately almost descending into hell. However I have not written any magazines though. I want to read all the magazines!

    1. I would like to see that one with Barnabas and Julia. They probably were so cute! If you look at what it took to get them to that point, if they in fact did, would just be wonderful!

  2. I subscribed to about half the ‘zines that you mentioned, Danny, and had I known about the others I would have gotten them too. One of my friends published Shadows of the Night and I typed up the stories for him. Fun times! I still have my copies of the ‘zines. Pre-internet, it was exciting to get them in the mail and know that someone else cared about DS, enough to put the time and effort into creating these publications and sharing the love.

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