Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel
Frankenstein is another of the great classic stories that has become so entrenched in modern society that the story is known to all. Victor Frankenstein uses science to create life with horrible, tragic results. Mary Shelley's novel is now a decade short of its 200th anniversary, so expect to hear and see even more about it in the next few years.
But why wait until the anniversary to partake of Shelley's monster tale? Classical Comics has just released a fantastic new graphic novel of Frankenstein in two formats:
Original Text: The text of Frankenstein, with the dialogue taken directly from Mary Shelley's novel
Quick Text: Frankenstein rendered in modern speech. The text has been modified and shortened for the graphic novel format.
The illustrations are bright and clear, but the majority of the characters have rather plain faces that tend to blend together. But then, there is no mistaking who the star of the book is, and artist Declan Shalvey's monster looks fantastic. Originally described by Shelley as “about eight feet (244 centimeters) in height, with translucent yellowish skin that "barely disguised the workings of the vessels and muscles underneath", watery, glowing eyes, flowing black hair, black lips, and white teeth.”* However, most of us would not recognize this creature as Frankenstein's monster: we tend to imagine Boris Karloff's green-skinned ogre from the 1931 film Frankenstein. Shalvey chooses to incorporate elements pf our popular culture creature with Shelley's creature, and the result is a menacing monster with glowing yellow eyes, greenish-greyish skin and sharp features. But the monster's face is expressive and intelligent, and his body muscled like a superhero. One glance at this monster and there is no doubt that he is capable of the wicked cunning that destroyed Frankenstein's life, and the remorse and horror of his actions.
I had the privilege of reading both text versions of the graphic novels. I thought I would surely be a purist, preferring Shelley's original text, but to my surprise I enjoyed the Quick Text more. Dialogue that we will allow in a novel doesn't always translate well to other media, and I think that is what happens in this case. Shelley's novel was not written with the intention of being spoken aloud, and the long, verbose sentences of the Original Text are so different than how we speak today that they seem strange in text bubbles. I thought that the Quick Text did a satisfactory job conveying the intention and emotions of Shelley's characters in a more natural way of speaking, and the text was much more accessible.