Discworld Wiki

Otto von Chriek, more commonly called Otto Chriek, is a character in Terry Pratchett's longrunning Discworld series of fantasy novels. He is a vampire and a professional newspaper photographer ("Iconographer" in Discworld parlance). His job allows him to indulge his suicidal fascination with light.

Otto is one of the "Black Ribboners", vampire "teetotallers" who have forsworn drinking human "b-vord"(This stands for "blood", but it is not wise to say it around him, as it may lead him to revert to his old ways). Due to the supernatural nature of their "addiction", Black Ribboners must replace their craving for "the b-vord" with something else; in Otto's case, he has become obsessed with light and photography. Since sunlight reduces vampires to dust until someone administers a drop of blood, the flash salamander he uses (which gives off stored sunlight) constantly causes Otto problems. He now carries a small vial of animal blood on a chain around his neck, which smashes and reconstitutes him if his salamander goes off too brightly. Otto experiments with "dark light", the light you find when you go out the other side of darkness, but this has its own unique problems, such as not necessarily illuminating the present to the imp inside his camera (which paints the pictures he takes), but also possibly the future or the past. Most other people also object to being photographed with it, out of beliefs of it being "Unholy" or simply being uncomfortable with feeling "like your head has been opened up and icicles have been pounded into your brain", as William de Worde puts it.

Otto's first appearance in the Discworld novels is in The Truth. He then goes on to make further, though much less substantial appearances, in Monstrous Regiment, Going Postal, Thud!, and Making Money.

Otto is from Überwald, and it is implied that he is from the village of Bad Schüschein. He maintains a ridiculous and overly stereotypical vampire appearance (with a few concessions to his art) as opposed to the downplaying of these aspects that most Black Ribboners go for. By ensuring people find him funny, he is able to ensure they do not find him threatening.

Later, Otto branches out into a new venture, owning half shares in an iconography shop called Flach and Chriek which is located on Bluffwilder Street just off Rime Street and Easy Street, near the river. They cater to all iconographical needs and have the new compact Brownie iconograph in stock. Nothing other than the name is known about Mr (or Ms) Flach: their nationality, first name, gender and indeed species remain a mystery.

Otto von Chriek's name connotes "Ought to Shriek" - appropriate given the fact that he is a vampire, but in his case more comedic than scary. His character is likely inspired by the news photographer "Weegee", who was also known for his distinctive accent, self-taught skills, knack for appearing at the scene of a crime and flair for self-promotion, although not so much for any tendency to dissolve into dust. His name might be derived by the German actor Max Schreck, known today for his lead role in Nosferatu. Otto may also be derived from Otto Marseus van Schriek, the Dutch painter who loved lizards ands snakes and painted amazing but creepy dark floral themes.


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