Count Dracula conjures up an image in most people's minds of what a vampire should look like. Of course we have all seen the different variations in the vampires in our fiction. We all know that guy from twilight looks nothing like Count Dracula and we can all sort of relate to why that might be. As vampire's live through the ages, side by side with the human race they have a need to adapt and change and to be able to fit in with the society which they are living in.
I believe it is a fairly safe assumption to say that most vampires in fiction have been portrayed as gentleman, even aristocratic on occasion. Count Dracula however, was not the first instance of this aristocratic vampire making his way into novels. Way back in 1819, John Polidori released a short story "Lord Ruthven" essentially predecessing Bram Stoker's Dracula. Edward Cullen, whilst not an aristocrat in the same was as his earlier types, still is portrayed as something of a gentleman.
Vampires are so widely written now that it is becoming a little bit complained about in writing circles. Stephenie Meyer in no way destroyed the vampire fiction genre, if anything she elevated it from a small. dark, slightly gothic niche to a mainstream YA urban fiction level.
What is it that makes a vampire? Is it the basic mechanics such as sucking blood, turning into a bat or are all of these simply cliches that are overwritten. Is it the aristocratic behaviours? Is it the living in the dark? Is it simply the gentleman like behaviour?
Elves followed a similar literary path to that of vampires but they hit the high time with the Epic Fantasy series of Tolkien. The vampires decided to go down the YA route and I am not sure which of the two came off better because of it. Personally a big Lord of the Rings fan and there is no comparison for me. I suspect though that if you lined Dracula and Edward Cullen's sales up against that of Legolas I think that they might be pretty similar, (They are, I checked although Tolkien is ever so slightly ahead).
I would love to see vampires make the transition across to epic fantasy, I think that the stories would be absolutely fantastic.
So, what is your opinion? Are vampires hugely overwritten or massively undervalued?