Not just any dirt! No! This tiny coffin shaped charm contains one gram of actual earth from the grounds of Castle Dracula in Transylvania. It comes with a Certificate of Authenticity GUARANTEEING you that the dirt is real and it’s really from Romania. I often wondered how they got the dirt past customs of a then Communist bloc country. Maybe it was easier back then. Hand over half-a-dozen pairs of blue jeans and a couple Beatles records, and you could have probably waltzed out of the country with the very bones of Vlad the Impaler in a backpack.
The ad was from the back inside cover of Creepy #131 which came out in 1981. I bought it for the Frank Frazetta cover which was probably not the first time that Warren Magazines ran with that cover image. Inside, there was a werewolf story that had nothing to do with the cover and 5 other self-contained stories in a horror vein all printed in black and white.
Creepy was one of the Warren family of comics and magazines that were all in a magazine format and did not have to submit to the Comics Code Authority which oversaw the content of comic books. They didn’t do much without the restrictions outside of featuring bloody mono-chromatic murders and showing the occasional nipple or bare buttocks. The stories were generally stupid and fairly grim trying desperately to mine some of the ground that EC Comics had already picked clean decades before. The art was nice but printed cheaply and recycled endlessly. I was never sure if the Warren comics were old or new material that was published years before much like the recycled Frazetta cover.
The magazine was also packed with wall-to-wall ads of Star Wars toys, Don Post rubber masks, 8mm versions of old horror movies and a warehouse full of other science fiction related junk. That was half of the fun of the Warren books – the ads.
Warren’s stuff was usually sold in the same racks that had the cheesy true detective magazines and other cheap publications with lurid covers. I always felt dirty looking at them, and I was afraid to pick them up and peruse them lest I would draw the judgmental attention of the lady behind the counter of the drug store.
As far as the ad is concerned, I used to get Famous Monsters of Filmland in the mid to late 1970s. I swear I saw this same Dracula dirt ad in Famous Monsters years before the ad pictured here only they were priced somewhere around $40 to $50. Obviously, the guy had a lot of the pendants left and priced them to move.
I remember seeing this ad on the back cover of a Warren horror mag in the 70s or 80s, and just for fun I have browsed for it a couple times on eBay. Found a pendant for sale in Oct 2010 ($30) with the following information, as given by a comics dealer in Kentucky:
A bit of historic insight: “Life at Warren Publishing was never dull. One day, Warren was sitting in his Manhattan office when his phone rang. “The FBI is here to see you,” his secretary said.
OK, Warren thought, Which wise*** artist is trying to pull a fast one? “Sure, show them in,” he replied, then reclined back in his chair, awaiting the punch line.
But there was no punch line! There were two FBI agents out there, and they were not happy. Seems they caught one of Warren’s employees trying to smuggle in something from a foreign country. “It was dirt from Dracula’s castle,” Warren explains. “I had sent an airline stewardess friend over to Transylvania to dig up and crate a couple pounds of dirt from the estate of Vlad the Impaler.” A small scoop of the dirt was placed in tiny metal coffins which were hooked to necklaces. Which was another genius Captain Company item. “Wear Dirt from Dracula’s Castle Around Your Neck!” Says Warren, “After some careful explanation, the G-men decided to let me go with a warning.”
Thanks so much for commenting, TJ! That’s a hysterical story. I always wondered if the dirt was real and how it got into the country.