Tag Archives: Halloween

Hey Franky! I’m Seein’ Double!”

Frankenstein 23 ReworkedWe’re com­ing up on anoth­er Hal­loween here, and it seems I’ve devel­oped some­thing of a tra­di­tion of doing some kind of Franken­stein piece when that hap­pens. Instead of doing just one this time though, you’ll see I got ambi­tious and actu­al­ly did two com­ic cov­er recre­ation­s/rein­ter­pre­ta-tions. Which seemed appro­pri­ate, giv­en the sub­ject mat­ter. I’ll explain.

If you ask most comics fans around my age which comics artist comes to mind first when they think of Franken­stein’s mon­ster, you’ll prob­a­bly get names like Bernie Wright­son or Mike Ploog. But fans whose aware­ness goes back a bit far­ther might give you anoth­er name: Dick Briefer.

Briefer­’s asso­ci­a­tion with the char­ac­ter in print was not only longer than any­one else’s (run­ning from issue #7 of Prize Comics through #68, as well as 33 issues of his own mag­a­zine), but he did three dis­tinct­ly dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the char­ac­ter! He start­ed with a straight hor­ror ver­sion, spin­ning right out of Mary Shel­ley’s orig­i­nal Franken­stein sto­ry. Kind of a gut­sy thing, to do an ongo­ing hor­ror fea­ture in a com­ic in those ear­ly days. From what I’ve read on the sub­ject thus far, there’s a good case to be made that it was the first of its kind.

Frankenstein #1 ReworkedThen lat­er, in 1945 it was decid­ed to retool the fea­ture as a humor­ous strip. The new, humor­ous Franky hit news­stands in Franken­stein #1. You might think it would be hard for some­one so involved with a dif­fer­ent ver­sion of the char­ac­ter to retool their vision so dras­ti­cal­ly, but Briefer did it. And the fans bought it.

That ver­sion ran its course in 1949, then in ’52 (when the ’50s wave of hor­ror comics was under way), Briefer was called to bring the mon­ster back to life yet again! Pick­ing up after the last issue of his pre­vi­ous incar­na­tion with #18, Briefer brought back a more seri­ous ver­sion of the mon­ster. This new ver­sion though was not sim­ply a revival of Briefer­’s ear­li­est ver­sion of the char­ac­ter. For one thing, the art I’ve seen thus far tends to be much more open for col­or. And the few sto­ries I’ve seen to date seem to play up more of the mon­ster’s pathos than Briefer did back when he first worked with the char­ac­ter.

I must con­fess that only recent­ly have I been learn­ing about Dick Briefer and his version(s) of Franken­stein, but it’s been fun learn­ing (I hope those who are more knowl­edge­able about this strip than I cur­rent­ly am will for­give any inac­cu­ra­cies here). Thank­ful­ly, though we no longer live in comics’ Gold­en Age, we do live in what could be con­sid­ered the Gold­en Age of comics reprints! Many old strips (like Franken­stein) that were pre­vi­ous­ly inac­ces­si­ble unless you had lots of dis­pos­able funds to buy back issues, are now being col­lect­ed and reprint­ed in qual­i­ty hard­cov­er edi­tions and trade paper­backs. A Briefer Franken­stein book is one of those that I would hope to lay hands on soon.

Oh, before I close, I guess I should get to specifics about what I did here. My Franken­stein #23 is a rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of Briefer­’s, and you can see his orig­i­nal here. Briefer­’s orig­i­nal ver­sion of Franken­stein #1 can be seen here.

Hap­py Hal­loween!

Frankenstein and Dracula

What? These weren’t the guys you were expect­ing? 🙂

Appar­ent­ly back in the mid/late-’60s, some­one at Dell Comics thought it would be a good idea to take some of the clas­sic mon­sters and re-imag­ine them as super­heroes. There had been a sort of resur­gence of inter­est in the old Uni­ver­sal Mon­sters, due to their expo­sure to a new gen­er­a­tion on TV. You cou­ple that with a burst of inter­est around that time in super­heroes from a pop/camp per­spec­tive (thanks to the Bat­man TV show), and you can see the rea­son­ing.

I’ve nev­er actu­al­ly come across one of these books to be able check them out for myself. My aware­ness of them is very lim­it­ed, gleaned only from their occa­sion­al men­tions in places like Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego mag­a­zine, or on var­i­ous blogs or comics sites.

Then why am I draw­ing these char­ac­ters? I guess there’s a fun sense of wonk­i­ness to the whole thing that kind of appeals to me. Sort of like watch­ing Plan 9 from Out­er Space. I thought it would be a kick to just take a crack at these guys and see what it might wind up look­ing like.

Hap­py Hal­loween!

The Man from Planet X

A con­fes­sion: I like a lot of old movies. And I have a bit of a soft spot for many of the old sci-fi or mon­ster movies. Recent­ly, I had the chance to watch The Man from Plan­et X (cour­tesy of TCM and my DVR), which I’d nev­er seen before. I had only ever run across men­tions of it as a kid from time to time in library books on sci-fi films. Turned out the film was decent, but noth­ing real­ly all that special…except for one thing: the title char­ac­ter. There was some­thing real­ly strik­ing about the alien design for this film.

When you boil it down, I sup­pose there’s not all that much to it. It’s just a nice bit of sculp­tur­al design for the head and hel­met assem­bly. The thing that prob­a­bly sells the alien and makes him mem­o­rable is the built-in up-light­ing they includ­ed in his hel­met, so he car­ried “dra­ma” with him wher­ev­er he went. Oth­ers’ mileage may vary, but the visu­al was strik­ing enough to lodge in my head at least. It’s a good exam­ple of mak­ing very effec­tive use of what was prob­a­bly a lim­it­ed pro­duc­tion bud­get.

So here’s my shot at the Man from Plan­et X. I saw it as a chance to play around with some dra­mat­ic light­ing and black-spot­ting. It’s a bit of an exper­i­ment, in that I tried to ink it the way Mil­ton Can­iff and Noel Sick­les used to do: bang­ing in all my blacks first with a brush (scary!), then going back in with pen where it still need­ed it. I do like the whole “lost edges” effect that work­ing this way helps to achieve.

This scene did­n’t exact­ly hap­pen this way in the movie, but so what? It’s my blog, and I can draw what I want! And any­way, it seems a rea­son­ably appro­pri­ate image for Hal­loween.

One last thing here, a bit of triv­ia: the female lead in the film was Mar­garet Field, the moth­er of Sal­ly Field. I don’t know if any­thing like that would ever come up in a game of Triv­ial Pur­suit or not, but if so, don’t say I nev­er did any­thing for you!

UPDATE: FCA Edi­tor P.C. Hamer­linck made me aware of the fact Faw­cett had actu­al­ly pub­lished a com­ic adapt­ing this movie, with art by Kurt Schaf­fen­berg­er, and that you can check out a b/w UK reprint of it here. Inter­est­ing to see Schaf­fen­berg­er take his art in a dif­fer­ent direc­tion from what we’re used to see­ing him do, and to note that there are places in the com­ic where they diverged from the movie! Thanks Paul!

Is There an Echo in Here?

Just mov­ing in to the new place here, fig­ur­ing out where to put stuff. Hope­ful­ly, it won’t take me too long. Bear with me while I try to get this sort­ed out.

Why the image? Well, it’s just a cou­ple days after Hal­loween, and I think this would look too bor­ing with­out a lit­tle visu­al inter­est. Plus it gives me an oppor­tu­ni­ty to try to learn how to work all the var­i­ous han­dles, noz­zles and gear shifts around here.