While it may not seem to fit my current re-fascination, I’m not really a “fan”personality. My interests are far too diverse. Since I’ve been thinking about Dark Shadows a lot lately I decided to do some reading on it. There’s a genre of nonfiction that involves small format, short introductions to various media. I’ve read a few of the Devil’s Advocates series about horror movies and I recently discovered the similar TV Milestones series about, well, TV. They have a volume on Dark Shadows by Harry M. Benshoff, and I knew it would help scratch my current itch. You see, I wasn’t really a devoted fan of the show—I watched it after school like a lot of kids did in the late sixties and into the early seventies. I read a few of the novels. I never attended any conferences (they exist) and never wrote any fan fiction. I think my level of engagement was different.
Nevertheless, this is an informative little book. I found out that there’s even more to the phenomenon than I already knew I didn’t know. I never really followed the whole plot line. I didn’t realize just how complex the story is. Perhaps on some level I knew the series was culturally significant. As a child I didn’t know much about the wider culture. We were working class poor, how was I to find out about such things? For me, Dark Shadows was a kind of escapism, I suppose. A fantasy that met a need, not a plot to be unraveled. I wasn’t aware of how sophisticated, if cheap, it was.
By the time I got to college and started to meet different people, it was a moment that had passed. I really didn’t think much about Dark Shadows again until after my own gothic tragedy of Nashotah House. During the days of my career malfunction I rediscovered my childhood, perhaps looking for something better. I started collecting and reading the novels again, and if I’m honest, were it not so expensive I’d consider watching the original series again. Like all things nostalgic, I know my Rosebud will never be today what it was back then. My reading sense wasn’t developed enough to see what might’ve been going on behind the scenes. Benshoff does a good job of bringing much of that to the light. I’ll likely read more on the series as time goes on, but I now have a better framework for looking at this particular milestone. Not, however, as a fanatic.