Off the Shelf: Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein

Gris Grimly's FrankensteinGris Grimly’s Frankenstein by Gris Grimly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been in love with Gris Grimly since I picked up a copy of Tales of Mystery and Madness in a Santa Fe bookshop in 2009. This version of Frankenstein is a meticulously, wonderfully illustrated edition for kids. Grimly’s visual take is an interesting mash-up of steampunk, psychobilly, saint cards, horror movies, and alchemical and anatomical textbooks. The graphics aren’t meant to be period, but a reinterpretation of Shelley’s classic tale.

I was especially taken with Grimly’s depiction of the monster. He is completely nightmarish with worms coming out of him constantly and not enough skin to cover him. But his face is drawn with poignant expression and there is beauty even in the hideousness of his form–the collarbones sticking out of the monster’s skin often looked like terminated wings.

The text is somewhat abridged; the most notable excision I noticed was Safie’s story. But this streamlines the story for reading ease. Readers will notice just how wordy the first section is until Grimly finds his word-to-visual ratio. This is marketed as a kids book, like Grimly’s other illustrated works, so there is nothing explicit. But parents should keep in mind that this is a story about love, corpses, revenge, redemption, and questioning one’s origins. Heavy stuff even for us adults.

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