Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Frankenstein's Broody Error


Dick Briefer's Frankenstein, written and illustrated by Dick Briefer, edited by Craig Yoe (1940-1953; collected 2010): Briefer's Frankenstein was the first on-going horror character in comic-book history, making his (its?) bow in 1940, in stories with a strong flavour of the misanthropic adventures of Marvel's (then Timely's) humanity-hating Submariner.

Briefer's first Frankenstein, his origin relocated to 1940, was somewhat like Shelley's original -- a highly articulate monster who worked to keep his creator alive while simultaneously wreaking havoc on everyone and everything else. In one gonzo bit of business, Frankenstein creates a crocodile-headed monster to fight his original creation. As this battle will take place on top of the Empire State Building, I'm thinking he should have gone with something other than a crocodile hybrid.

Over the next 13 years, Briefer's monster would be rebooted twice, once as the loveable star of a humour comic book, once as an inarticulate, murdeous, lonely brute. Yep, that's pretty much 90% of the history of Frankenstein riffs all in one comic-book series. Briefer, a chameleonic artist, altered both art and writing to suit each phase of his creature's comic-book adventures, though in all three cases, the creature's nose would be located freakishly high on its face. A terrific snapshot of a little-known series, impeccably produced by Craig Yoe and his people -- though I'd have traded the oversized pages for smaller pages and more stories. Highly recommended.

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