Vampirella Costume History
The character of Vampirella was created in 1969 by Forrest J. Ackerman and Trina Robbins. While Ackerman was responsible for her name and origin story, it was Robbins who designed her famous costume and hairstyle. Vampirella has gone through many character changes over her long history, but originally she drew her roots from the campy science fiction films of the 60s, as well as the women’s liberation and sexual liberation movements going on during that time.
Her first appearance would be in the self named title Vampirella #1. This black and white horror comic had Vampirella as a Vampiri from the planet Drakulon. The Vampiri were almost wiped out when one of their two suns exploded. Later, astronauts from Earth landed on Drakulon and Vampirella was sent to check out the situation. The astronauts attacked Vampirella and she fought back. In the violent battle, Vampirella drew blood and realized they had this substance (blood) that she desired. She commandeered the humans’ spaceship and flew it back to Earth. There she learned that her race of Vampiri were much like the vampires found in the legends of Earth. In an attempt to prove not all vampires were evil, she set out to do good on the planet Earth.
On her journey, she teamed up with Adam Van Helsing, Conrad Van Helsing and Mordecai Pendragon. While she fought against dark magic and other malicious creatures, she had personal struggles to battle as well. Not only did she have to adapt to an alien culture, but she struggled with her own craving for blood. A serum was eventually found to help her appetite, but if she missed a dose Vampirella would become more dangerous to be around than ever before.
Vampirella would then undergo a slight origin change. Drakulon was actually a part of hell. Her mother Lilith was the first wife of Adam. (That’s right, Adam as in Adam and Eve) However in her story, when Lilith was kicked out of the Garden of Eden, she mated with a demon and gave birth to vampires. Later, when she realized the error of her ways, she looked for atonement. She gave birth to Vampirella, who went to Earth to kill these evil vampires her mother had brought into the world.
In the 90s, Harris acquired the rights to Vampirella and tweaked her origins again. They wanted to move her away from the campy science fiction of the 60s and into the bad girls of the 90s. After disappearing for 10 years, it was discovered that Nathan Shroud, from the Cult of Chaos, had wiped Vampirella’s memories and she had been living as a teacher named Ella Normandy. The demon Nuberus, attempting to enter Earth, jump started Vampirella’s memories. All the things she and readers knew about Drakulon were not real. They had been implanted into her consciousness by her brother Madek and sister Magdalene. From here the origin is very similar to her second origin, while still under her original publisher, Warren Imprint. Her mother lilith was created by God to be Adam’s first wife and she mated with demons, after being kicked out of Eden. However, this time she gave birth to thousands of demons and not just Vampires. Rather than giving birth to Vampirella to atone for her sins, she had Madek and Magdalene. However, they turned evil and Vampirella was then born to complete their task of wiping out the evil demons plaguing earth, as well as her older siblings. Her first attempt at battling them, led to her memory wipe.
The title of this hub can be a little misleading, because despite her changing origins, genres and publishers Vampirella’s costume has remained relatively constant over the decades. Sticking with the same costume for over 50 years is a testament to Trina Robbins’ artistic design.
Vampirella’s red monokini bathing suit pushes the lines of decency no matter what decade she is in. This one piece swimsuit has the front almost completely cut out, with only two very thin strips of material running up the sides keeping it from becoming a full bikini. A gold ring attaches the top of her suit to a white collar. This collar served two purposes; the first is to play off the stereotypical vampire/Dracula costume and the second is to keep the top of her suit from falling down. The only other color on her costume is a gold bat located on the bottom front of her costume. This is really the only place there was enough fabric to include any design. The few strips of material covering her front aren’t wide enough to do more than keep the sensors away and the the lower half of her costume in the back is giving her an atomic wedgie. To complete this ensemble Vampirella also wore black boots and gold jewelry. Since Vampirella is not allergic to silver, her earrings, armbands and bracelets could have been any precious metal, but gold classed things up.
It is interesting to look at Vampirella’s costume when compared to her powers. Along with silver, sunlight has no effect on her. Why shouldn’t she walk around as if she is going to the beach. Her blood consumption augments her healing factor making sure that scars and aging would never get in the way of feeling comfortable in her wardrobe choice. Since she is vulnerable to a stake through the heart, perhaps the costume was designed to distract would be attackers who were focused on that area. This tactic could also cause problems, since she needs to look directly into people’s eyes in order to hypnotize them. I doubt many people (especially men) would be making eye contact with her, while she is wearing this outfit. Perhaps the lack of fabric was to make her transitions to and from a shadowy creature easier. Although, I could not find a reason for the gold bat on her costume, she does have the power to summon bats.
Talisa Soto: With an estimated Budget of 1 million dollars, a Vampirella movie would be released in 1996. (It went straight to video.) With the tagline “Thirsty for justice, she’ll settle for blood.”, you know it is going to be a B movie. In this version Vampirella chases a group of vampires who murdered her father, on their home planet of Drakulon, to Earth.
Although not really a costume change, Vampirella has been known to wear a cape over her standard clothing. This large black cape with a red lining has the gold bat on the back and is very similar to what might be imagined for a very stereotypical vampire costume, that goes off the Dracula mythology. At least she has something to keep her warm.
Publishers have used real models to pose as Vampirella for several of her magazine and comic covers. She has probably had more cover models than any other female comic heroine. With many Vampirella comic covers having her character in different pinup poses, this should not be too surprising.
Since Vampirella is so sensual, many models have been used to represent her. This has gone beyond her own personal comics and included separate magazines, posters, and promotional items.
Fans can’t pick up a Vampirella Costume at their local costume shop, but that has not stopped them from dressing up as their favorite bag girl in comics.
Google Images (Images appeared on several sites and was unsure of original)