Who owns the rights to a particular depiction of a fictional character?

Very bad advice, in my opinion. No court of law is going to grant you such a rule.

Clothing designs are not protected under U.S. copyright law. However the way a fully formed character appears might include the appearance of clothing as part of the protected work.

Yes. That’s almost an easy case.

I believe Lugosi Jr. is mostly concerned with actual photographs or representations of his father, particularly those done for profit. I don’t think he cares too much about cosplayers and the like. Disclaimer: I don’t know Bela G. Lugosi and have had no personal dealings with him. My knowledge comes from what I’ve read and what I’ve heard other people talking about.

As I understand it, it stemmed originally from Universal Picures using Lugosi Sr.'s image in advertising, and licensing his image for use on various merchandise like model kits and jigsaw puzzles and things like that. Lugosi Jr. sued Universal for unauthorized use of his father’s image, and ultimately lost the case in the California Supreme Court, which ruled that personality rights belong to the person and may not be inherited. That was in 1979.

Subsequently Lugosi Jr. began lobbying for a change in the law, resulting in the Celebrities Rights Act, which was passed in 1985. Lugosi and Universal have since come to an arrangement, and the studio is able to use Lugosi Sr.'s image, for which his heirs receive a share of the profits. But people have reported running into him at conventions, where he keeps a wary eye on booths selling T-shirts and stuff, to make sure his father’s picture isn’t on any of them without permission.

Absolutely correct. According to Dracula historian David Skal, it was Raymond Huntley who played the role in England long before Lugosi did. His hallmark was a pair of white tufts of hair drawn up in front, suggesting horns. Huntley even had to provide his own suit for the production!

The cape was a bit of stage-magic (the production was filled with stage magic effects, including several different flying bats and a trick coffin in which you could see the stake driven in and the body apparently dissolving). The cape had a high neck to hide the actor’s head. It was a standard magician’s disappearance device – a wire frame inside could keep the cape standing on its own while the actor playing Dracula disappeared down a trapdoor (or snuck offstage to the side, if no trapdoor was available). The cape could then collapse at a touch, and a bat appeared overhead, giving the impression that the count had turned into a bat, as you say. (It was only later, as in Abott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, that the count’s cape transmuted into the bat’s wings).

Skal makes the argument that the stage play transformed the character. In Stoker’s novel, he was a pretty awful, antisocial creature (although he makes himself presentable to Harker in Transylvania, because he had to). But for a stage drama, which was necessarily a drawing-room play, Dracula had to become a more sociable, urbane character of the sort who would be invited into a drawing room. Hence the fancy duds.

Victor Frankenstein gets too much criticism in my mind. He’s not a monster or evil so much as he’s self-centered and careless. And he’s no Ph.D. He’s pretty clearly an undergraduate in the novel, and he’s not really studying to be a medical doctor. He’s a student of natural philosophy, albeit a brilliant one (he’d have to be, in order to discover the Secret of Life).

Not surprisingly for a young student who has made a brilliant discovery, he works in a fanatical fashion to see if he can make it work. Instead of testing his hypotheses out with making, say, a mouse or a dog, he goes straight for a human being. No laboratory full of electrical apparatus – it’s not even stated that he used electricity to bring it to life, despite all the movies. Not even a gurney or lab table. In a note not in the book, Shelley writes of him crouched over his creation o*n the floor, where he constructed it. To his own surprise, the creature does come to life.

But he faints away. He runs from his creation, and doesn’t take responsibility for it. He doesn’t teach and nurture it, so it’s not surprising that it makes mistakes and harbors anger. Its first killing sets the stage for the rest of the book, because there’s really no coming back from it. And so the story descends into tragedy. But it’s not because Victor is Bad or Evil. One critic suggested that the story is, in a way, the result of the bad results Shelley had seen of childbirth (her own mother died in childbirth), as if to say “HERE is what would happen if men, instead of women, created new life.”