Special Book Review

From Scooby-Doo to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Back - A Review of "Scooby-Doo ! and the Vampire's Revenge"



As #6 of the "Scooby-Doo Mysteries" series, Scholastic brings us for Halloween 99 "Scooby-Doo! and the Vampire's Revenge" by James Gelsey. Although this is, not unexpectedly, a pseudo-vampire (rather than a vampire) novel for young readers, it is recommended to collectors of vampire books for the excellent graphic art and for the role Scooby-Doo has played in the history of TV monster culture for kids. In this book, Scooby and the gang help out with a Halloween auction in the fancy Brickstone hotel. One of the items on auction happens to be the Crostini Medallion, a 1878 artifact from Transylvania, whose inscription reads "Serip mav emoc lew" (read it backwards and you will see where we are headed). A collector of jewels from Transylvania, aptly named Lugo Belasi, (and who, in fact, looks like Bela Lugosi), explains that the Crostini Medallion is cursed and whoever reads the inscription will be haunted by a vampire. In fact, a vampire appears and chases Shaggy and Scooby throughout the hotel. Fred, Daphne and Velma try to find more about the vampire, but this proves to be difficult since a Halloween party is being held at the hotel and almost everybody is dressed as a vampire. Eventually, Velma finds some cues persuading her that the vampire should be a pseudo, and the villain is unmasked as usual.

Vampires (or, rather, pseudovampires) are frequent guest stars in Scooby-Doo cartoons, comics and now books. An interesting theme in the development of TV monster culture is how influential the Scooby-Doo stories have been in developing the characters in the hit TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". In the latter show, the young vampire hunters often refer to themselves as "the Scooby gang" and there are some obvious parallels between respective characters:

Daphne - Cordelia

Well before Cordelia Chase in "Buffy", Daphne (one of the most good-looking characters in the history of cartoons) was the first rich suburban girl to chase monsters on TV and to worry more about what the chase may do to their hairs than about vampires and zombies themselves. The "rich girl" Daphne stereotype is much clearer in the version offered in "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo", where the characters as young kids are almost caricatures of the teenagers of the regular Scooby-Doo series.


Velma - Willow

Again, the parallel is more obvious in "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo", where Velma is rarely seen without a computer. In general, Velma cannot compete with Daphne in the good looks department, but more than compensate as a computer nerd and genius in general, just as Willow Rosenberg does in "Buffy".

Shaggy - Xander

Shaggy is, of course, more afraid of monsters than Xander in "Buffy", but both appear initially as the weak link in the respective Scooby gang chain and, more often than not, end up saving the day. Xander has also some features of young Fred in "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo" (while the grown-up Fred as fearless leader is a less interesting character).

One may be tempted to add a Buffy - Scooby-Doo comparison (a talking, humanized dog and a slayer both win through being unusual), but this would be highly interpretive, while the Daphne-Cordelia and Velma-Willow couples are so close that assuming a direct influence on the "Buffy" series is not unreasonable.

There is, of course, the key difference that in "Scooby-Doo" at the end of the day monsters turn out to be ordinary human villains, and in "Buffy" villains who may initially appear to be merely human turn out to be monsters, devils, and vampires. In this sense, "Buffy" reverses "Scooby-Doo". "Scooby-Doo" is a modernist moral tale telling kids that there are no such things as monsters, while "Buffy" is postmodern and assumes that irrational creatures not captured by science such as vampires and demons may in fact exist. It is however true that some real monsters, for a difference, pop up in some "Scooby-Doo" episodes, and that a postmodern, less skeptical "Scooby-Doo" may be a possibility for the future.

Buy this book

CESNUR Home Page - DRACULA Library

Buffy Library