Originally from Syracuse, New York, Kovacs roomed with a country boy named Rip, who wrote letters home about Kovacs.
Kovacs began to suspect something was strange about Zoltan Nagy in September 1917, while the Browns were on a road trip that took them through Boston, New York City, and Detroit. In Detroit, he noticed that when they passed by a mirror, only Nagy's clothing cast a reflection. He convinced his roommate, Rip, that Nagy was a vampire and when Nagy tried to get into their room that night, Rip and Kovacs killed him, with Kovacs driving a stake through Nagy's heart. The next day nobody, including Nagy's supposed father, Gyula Nagy, remembered Zoltan, save for Kovacs and Rip.