First lines: Frankenstein

It’s not that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a bad book. It’s rather that it’s a melodramatic string of rickety plot-devices. The melodrama is shown every time Victor Frankenstein has a breakdown or mopes over another relative or friend lost to his creature’s lust for revenge. And the plot-devices, well, lets just say that the way the monster learns to speak and read is just a little to unbelievable. Like Stephen King suggested in Danse Macabre, Shelley should have focused on one of Frankenstein’s two main flaws (usurping the power over life and death or failing to take responsibility for his creation), which would have given the book more sense of direction. *

Unused Frankenstein illustrationBut the main reason I picked up this book wasn’t the story. It was Bernie Wrightson‘s illustrations for it. (The example you see here isn’t included in the book.) Ever since I first read Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf many moons ago, I have been aware of his work. But to say I’ve been a fan of it … no. Even his cover for Meat Loaf’s Dead Ringer album doesn’t do much for me. (So even if I would have a spare forty grand lying around, I probably wouldn’t us it to acquire the original painting.)

That said, some of Wrightson’s art for The Dark Tower IV: Wolves of the Calla led to some looking around, finding stuff, which in turn led to the out-of-print and hard to find Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein. Whenever I saw an illustration from that book, I was reminded of the work of Gustave Doré, which I happen to like more than quite a bit. So when last year a 25th anniversary edition was announced, I ordered a copy.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley — Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus
To Mrs. Savile, England, St. Petersburgh, Dec. 11th, 17—
You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.

* Oops. Forgot to end the first paragraph there.