Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel, adds a new and exciting spin on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Written by Martin Powell and illustrated by Patrick Olliffe, Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel makes it possible for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to come to life in its illustrations. Originally published in 1989 as a comic book , the novel's artwork was remastered and later published by Pulp 2.0 Press in 2012.
Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel is what one might consider an easy read. As an adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the characters in this novel come to life in a way that was not possible in Mary Shelley's novel. The novel makes it possible for readers to understand the fear Victor experiences after he creates his monster.
Social class plays an important role throughout Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel. Victor Frankenstein comes from a privileged background. He is afforded the opportunity to attend the University of Ingolstadt. At the University he begins to study medicine. Victor soon realizes he is not interested in the art of healing, but is fascinated by human by the structure of the human frame. He states, "to know the secrets of life, I probed the cause and progress of decomposition." Victor Frankenstein desires to bestow animation upon lifeless tissue (Powell, 14).
Victor took to the streets to find corpses to create his monster. He preys on those from a lower class. From filthy disease and street murder he wove his miracle (Powell, 19). He robs graves in order to form his creature. Victor soon comes in contact with an elderly man who is being attacked. He is concerned and wonders why the man is always tormented. The man states, “All men hate the wretched--it is simpler to blame me for their sins. But to despair is to turn your back on God." The attackers preyed on the man because he was elderly and of a lower class. The men may also blame the elder because their excuse for the crime is more believable when they blame the less fortunate.
Poverty and political exile also appears in Martin Powell’s novel. The DeLacey family is in poverty. Every day they work hard for what they have, and at night the monster steals from them. One day he realizes the cause of their struggles, and makes a vow to help them. The family is portrayed in a way that is easy to understand.
Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel and Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus both deal a lot with the theme of nurture. In Mary Shelley’s novel and in most adaptations, the monster is always feared by others. Victor spends months creating the monster. He does not eat or sleep until the “fires of heaven” obey him (Powell, 20). Upon creation, Victor immediately fears the monster. He is repulsed by his appearance and wants nothing to do with him (Powell, 25). Victor then casts the creature aside. The creature has the mentality of an infant. He is in a new strange world. He does not know how to communicate, but can understand others when they speak. He also does not understand his own strength.
The theme of alienation becomes evident in Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel early on. While studying at the University of Inglostadt, Victor is alone. As he molds the form of man, he is unaccompanied. Unlike in most adaptions, Victor is unaided in creating the monster. He does not have an assistant. With that being said, since Victor does not have an assistant, this also means he does not have anyone to reason with him. No one is around to help him think rationally.
The monster deals with alienation as well. Upon creation he is immediately alienated by his master due to his hideous appearance. He feels alone, bewildered, and terrified. He comes in contact with the DeLacey family. At this point in the novel, it is clear that the creature desires to have friends, family, and to be loved. He wishes to get to know the family and hopes one day he will take his place among the “simple gentle creatures.”
During his time spent observing the DeLacey’s, the monster becomes aware of their emotions, and learns how to deal with his emotions as well. He sees their struggles, and learns poverty is the reason for their tears. Instead of continuing to steal from them, he vows to help them with their duties. At night, he begins taking over the young man’s chores. The monster helps ease their daily duties and allows them leisure time (Powell, 45). Once chased away from the DeLacey’s, the monster seeks Victor Frankenstein. When he comes in contact with him again, it is due to William’s death. At this point, the creature explains himself and also mentions the desire for a friend. He pleads with Victor and asks him for a mate. Throughout the adaptions, the longing for a sense of community is evident.
Martin Powell's Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel was published by Pulp 2.0 Press in 2012 (Powell, 98). This edition is the fifth printing of Frankenstein (Powell, 98). This critically acclaimed graphic novel is still being enjoyed by people around the world. When asked how Powell felt knowing that new readers all over the world are still enjoying this book he responded, “Knowing it will continue on for a new generation is exceptionally gratifying.” Frankenstein lives on.
Significance of Adaptation
Adaptations help the text circulate. Whenever a new adaptation for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein comes out, her novel gains more light as well. "The character of Frankenstein's Monster has appeared in all sorts of media since his debut in the classic novel by Mary Shelley” (Powell, 99). As a graphic novel, Martin Powell's Frankenstein follows the basics of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus very closely. Frankenstein; The Graphic Novel takes a more modernized approach, but contains many similarities to the original text.
Victor Frankenstein's desire to create life is more clear in this adaptation than in the original. During his time spent studying medicine at the University of Ingolstadt, he realizes he was not driven by the art of healing, but he was fascinated by the structure of the human frame (Powell, 14). During this time Victor "discovered the formula of generating life." This adaptation fits in with others nicely because it follows the same approach. The creation of the monster is thoroughly planned; however, something goes wrong, and the brain is damaged.
In this adaptation of Frankenstein it is possible to briefly feel sorry for Victor. In the beginning of the novel, Victor states his desire to be worthy of Elizabeth (Powell, 21). It is also possible to feel sorry for Victor when he learns of his younger brother's death. After Williams death, Victor feels he owes his brother justice. One significant difference from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein that occurs here is the fact that the trial for William's murder was over by the time Victor made it home.
In several adaptions, the monster is created on a stormy night. Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel is no different. The creature comes to life on a stormy night in November, and like in most adaptations, Victor is immediately repulsed by his appearance (Powell, 23). Upon the monster's creation, Victor becomes ill. His friend Henry Clerval arrives for a visit and takes care of him.
This adaptation’s most notable quality is the ability to see the character's lives play out in front your eyes, much like a film. The readers can see Victor's struggles, along with his families struggles. The monster's struggles are noticeable as well in this novel.
References and Suggestions for Further Reading
"Classic Graphic Novels." Library Media Connection 29.4 (2011): 86. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 Mar. 2015.
Fournier, Pierre. "Frankensteinia: The Frankenstein Blog." Digital Image. N.p., 15 December 2013. Web. 5 Mar. 2015. http://frankensteinia.blogspot.com/
Gorman, Michele. "Graphic Adaptations Of Classic Literature: A New Kind Of Summer Reading." Library Media Connection 28.6 (2010): 46. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 Mar. 2015.
Powell, Martin. Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel. California: Pulp 2.0 Press. Text. 1 March 2013. http://pulp2ohpress.com/
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Susan J. Wolfson. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. 2nd ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007 Print.