Gris Grimly's Frankenstein
The story is a familiar one by now. Victor Frankenstein creates a man-like being from parts of dead bodies pilfered from graveyards. In giving life to this “monster,” Victor has stepped into the world of the unknown. He is, at first, impressed with himself and his creation, but over a short period of time, he begins to realize that he has gone too far. In his fevered mind, he cannot stop what has been started, and he is overcome with madness as he tries to understand what to do --- but it is too late.
"Gris Grimly’s FRANKENSTEIN will certainly attract anyone interested in the tortured story of Victor and his monster. Fans of Grimly’s art are going to absolutely love the free, wild and marvelous interpretations on each page."
Long fascinated by Mary Shelly’s story, Gris Grimly has interpreted his own, awe-inspiring version in graphic novel form. Using text from Shelly’s original novel and his own wildly creative artwork, Grimly’s FRANKENSTEIN is a graphic novel masterpiece. Some chapters are represented by letters exchanged between Victor and his love. In other chapters, the monster is given a voice by introducing his own point of view. There are pages with no dialogue --- just marvelous pictures, silently telling the story. Ultimately, this is not just Victor’s story. Gruesome, twisted, and totally original, the book flows with the author’s outrageous illustrations. The book vibrates with the intensity of images and beautifully designed format.
At times the language seems stilted and archaic, but as you get into the story it all flows. The sense of Victorian life and the narrow structures of their morals are all beautifully captured between dialogue and illustration.
With his own flair and possible influences from other artists like Tim Burton, Grimly weaves his magic throughout. His characters and costuming are delightful --- from the sculls on Victor’s jacket to the shock of wild hair that wisps in one crazy tangle about his head. The monster is both hideous and distorted with an almost human face but most of the time is a terrifying patchwork. Victor’s friend Henry Clerval is gaudy in red-stripped jacket with a car salesman’s smile. His fiancé, Elizabeth, has miles of puffed out hair with a dramatic white strip. The Steampunk cars are whimsical and rackety as they bump along the muddy roads. Each page is filled with these characters and images amid landscapes of gloom and darkness.
In the afterward, Grimly describes some of the struggles he faced as he worked on the book. In strange ways, he parallels this time (four years in the making) with the trials of the mad scientist and his monstrous creation. The emotional ups and downs, the disappointments, the dashed hopes and the breakthroughs wear on the author/artist. In the end, Grimly is a winner with his startling and fantastical creations.
Gris Grimly’s FRANKENSTEIN will certainly attract anyone interested in the tortured story of Victor and his monster. Fans of Grimly’s art are going to absolutely love the free, wild and marvelous interpretations on each page.
Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts on October 15, 2013