New Graphic Fiction: Gris Grimley’s Frankenstein

I hardly know where to start on this one. We’re selling this on the children’s side but I can’t imagine a collector of graphic fiction that who wouldn’t want to own a copy. This new edition of Frankenstein uses and abridged version of the original text and Grimly’s illustrations raise the story to a new level—it’s a wonderful melding of artistic visions. Grimly’s illustrated children’s books include Neil Gaiman’s bestselling A Dangerous Alphabet  and Grimly’s adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Death and Dementia. That book gave a clue what could be coming from this prodigiously talented illustrator. It’s a fully-illustrated prose/graphic hybrid–a genuinely fresh take on the story.

Grimly’s fans have been awaiting this reworking of Shelley’s 1818 classic for four years, and they will rejoice in the end result. Spidery ink lines and a palette of jaundiced yellows and faded sepias plumb the darkness of the writer’s imaginings. Frankenstein’s bone-embellished military jacket and pop-star shock of hair turn him into a sort of anachronistic punk scientist, but other elements of the work are more circumspect. Crabbed, tense portraits of Frankenstein’s friends and family combine historical detail with theatrical emotion. The images of the dissections that lead to the monster’s creation dwell on flesh and bone, yet show, for Grimly, a certain restraint. Even more notable is Grimly’s refusal to capitalize on the horror of the iconic scenes for which the movie versions of the story are remembered. The monster’s crimes are shown mostly in b&w thumbnails, as if Grimly were hastening through them to probe more carefully the monster’s self-loathing and Frankenstein’s ruin. Fans will return to these pages obsessively; readers encountering the story for the first time may find Grimly’s images rise to view whenever they think of it.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein (9780061862977) Mary Shelley/Gus Grimly. $24.99 hardcover. 8/27/13 on sale.

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