In 1971, the Comics Code Authority relaxed some of its longstanding rules regarding horror comics, such as a virtual ban on vampires. Marvel had already tested the waters with a quasi-vampire character, Morbius the Living Vampire, but the company was now prepared to launch a regular vampire title as part of its new line of horror books. After some discussion, it was decided to use the Dracula character, in large part because it was the most famous vampire to the general public, and also because Bram Stoker's creation and secondary characters were by that time in the public domain.
At first, Tomb of Dracula was plagued by an inability to keep a steady writer, with the first half-dozen issues written by Gerry Conway, Archie Goodwin, and Gardner Fox. But the title gained stability and hit its stride when Marv Wolfman became permanent scripter with the seventh issue.
The entire run of The Tomb of Dracula was penciled by Gene Colan, with Tom Palmer inking virtually all (although Gil Kane drew many of the covers for the first few years, as he did for many other Marvel titles). Colan based the visual appearance of Marvel's Dracula not on Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, or any other actor who had played the vampire on film, but rather on actor Jack Palance. Palance would play Dracula in a television production of Stoker's novel the year after Tomb of Dracula debuted.
Tomb of Dracula ran for 70 issues, until 1979. As cancellation loomed, plans were made to wrap up the storyline and lingering threads by issue #72. However, when management decided at the eleventh hour to terminate the title with #70 instead, the final three issues' worth of story and art had to be compressed into one double-sized book, culminating with Dracula's apparent death and dispersal.