Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dark Shadows Novels of the 1970s

1970s Dark Shadows novels

Secret of Barnabas Collins / Dark Shadows Novels of the 1970sDark Shadows wasn't broadcast in my TV market, not until 6 months before the show ended. I discovered the spooky soap in 1968 while twisting the dial on summer vacation in Wilmington, NC where Dark Shadows aired weekday afternoons. I was mesmerized by Barnabas, Julia Hoffman and that creepy kid David Collins who had some kind of demonic possession going on.

Returning home with the knowledge that this cool show existed, I was able to barely tune Dark Shadows in the next Monday at 3:30 from a station 2 hours away. Somehow, through the black-and-white snow and sound distortions, I was able to keep up with the Collins family until next summer's vacation would allow for a decent viewing of the coffin.

That's how I ended up one of the millions of kids frantically racing home from the school bus attempting to catch the last ten minutes or so of the show on the one portable TV set in our home that was able to receive that faraway channel.

There was another source of Dark Shadows entertainment that I latched onto around the same time, the novels by romance writer Marilyn Ross (actually a pen name for Dan Ross). They began publication in December of 1966 as typical gothic romance stories, more or less along the lines of the soap. In the books and the TV series (pre-Barnabas) governess Victoria Winters travels to a mysterious Maine mansion by the cliffs where secrets, betrayal, insanity and intrigue are offered in lieu of a decent paycheck.

In November of 1968 Barnabas Collins finally got his own euphoniously titled novel. Six more followed the next year with the vampire now at the center of the plots. The Secret of Barnabas Collins, The Demon of Barnabas Collins, The Foe of Barnabas Collins all featured storylines that would feel familiar to viewers with the witch Angelique, Josette Collins, Chris Jennings and other familiar characters playing key roles.