Gris Grimly's Frankenstein

Gris Grimly's Frankenstein (2013).Gris Grimly's Frankenstein. Digital image. N.p., 11 Sept. 2013. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

Gris Grimly's Frankenstein is an adaptation of Mary Shelley's original Frankenstein, published in 1818. The adaptation is in the form of a graphic novel, with full-color illustrations drawn by Gris Grimly. The book was published in 2013 by HarperCollins Publishers in New York and was released on August 27, 2013.


Gris Grimly's Frankenstein is composed of three volumes, each with seven chapters, and starts with five letters to and from Robert Walton and Margaret Saville. The seven letters are the exact letters from Mary Shelley's original novel Frankenstein, and the first chapter begins with the same words verbatim. Reading the entire Gris Grimly's Frankenstein, the reader gets the full plot of Mary Shelley's story line, only with seemingly unneeded details eliminated to make room for the illustrations, which makes it a graphic novel.

Gris Grimly's Frankenstein 3

An illustration from the book, found on page 166. Grimly, Gris. Frankenstein. Digital image. Writers House. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

Some of the pages are full text, some interspersed with both illustrations and text, and others fully illustrated. On the pages with text present, the illustrations add color to the narrative and visuals for the reader to connect to the words. Other parts of the story are told with illustrations specifically, without of any of the text about the matter.

Major Themes


While the monster is isolated from the rest of the world and feels like an outsider throughout the Frankenstein novel, there are still many friendships represented among other characters, primarily with Victor. Victor distances himself from people while working on the monster, which leads him to illness and stress. He locks himself away, slaving over a creature that, while under construction, cannot answer with him, and even when finally created, cannot relate to him. As Victor denies himself relationships during this time, both Henry and Elizabeth pursue Victor's well-being.

Directly after creating the monster, Victor is completely distraught at seeing what he has created, and runs out of his house. In the street he finds Henry. Victor instantly feels at peace in his friend's presence. Later, when Victor is again reunited with his friend Henry, the text is a large drawing of Henry full of color. Grimly emphasizes the light surrounding their friendship. Henry brings peace and joy to Victor, and Victor is the problem in isolating himself from the happiness that his friends are willing to provide him.

The same is true for when the text mentions Elizabeth. The illustrations are yellow and white, framed with flowers and fluid lines. The scenes of friendship are presented with light colors and smiles. Grimly is strategic in using his illustrations to amplify the important theme of friendship in his adaptation and showcase the importance of fellowship for Victor and his battle of isolating himself instead of joining with people that encourage him.


The illustrations by Grimly in this book are not the ordinary cartoon-like drawings you find in other illustrated books. Grimly's work is dark but also whimsical at the same time. The quirky characters with bulging eyes and wispy black hair are drawn wearing either striped or very structured black clothing. From the first illustration, the book screams "outsider" and points to the emo, Gothic type style that people often adopt when they feel alone or want to be left alone.

The original Frankenstein novel depicts the monster as being isolated from his surroundings when his creation is finished. He is expected to find his place in his new world where he doesn't connect with any of the humans that surround him. This is why he pleads with Victor to create a mate for him and and curses Victor when this wish is not granted. All the monster really wants is acceptance, but is constantly defeated in this endeavor by his absurd actions that aren't accepted by the world he's been placed in.

"Believe me, Frankenstein: I am benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity: but am I not alone, miserably alone?" (Shelley, 83). The monster says this to Victor in the original text, but in Grimly's adaptation, the illustrations also show the disheveled monster looking down, distressed and upset. The illustration adds to the emotion that the monster is feeling, and enables the reader to associate the face of the monster with what he says. Later, illustrations show the monster wandering around, alone, many of them with him looking down or holding his face, stressed. The reader could not grasp these mental images by merely reading that the monster had been wandering. The illustrations give depth to the feelings of the monster in his isolation.


Gris Grimly's Frankenstein was recognized on the Society of Illustrator's "The Original Art 2013 Featured Artists" list. While this specific book has not been recognized as a best seller by the New York Times, other works by Grimly have been recognized in the past, making him a best-selling illustrator.

The book has been reviewed by the New York Times Book Review, Publishers Weekly, YOYA, and Kirkus Reviews. Gris Grimly's Frankenstein has also been given five stars on the Barne's & Noble website and 4.5 stars on

Significance of Adaptation 

Gris Grimly's Frankenstein is the first fully illustrated adaptation of Frankenstein that uses the original text from the 1818 edition ([Creator Productions]). Mad Creator Productions is Grimly's personal website that honors and promotes the purchase of his work. Grimly's goal was to tell the true story of Frankenstein, but in an easier format that captures the imagination of readers. In an interview with NPR's Arun Rath, Grimly said, "...Maybe it wasn't this way for you, but the first time I tried to read Frankenstein, I didn't get through it. And I'm finding this is the same with a lot of people. Frankenstein is not the easiest read when you're young"(Public Radio). For this reason, Grimly found it important to remain faithful to the narrative of Mary Shelley's original work, but made it an abridged version, condensed to 200 pages.

This adaptation is different from others in that it does not add to or change any of the original text, but does bring a new perspective to the story with its illustrations. Grimly intended for the reader to be stimulated by visuals pertaining to the narrative without having to rely on film adaptations of Frankenstein, which he admits to being his first exposure of the story rather than the original novel (Northwest Public Radio). The pictures in the book ultimately bring the text to life, evoking emotion and a sense of connection with the characters in the story. More specifically, the book allows for readers of all ages to digest the very dynamic and long plot of the original Frankenstein novel without having to read the full novel, or watch a film adaptation that might leave out important portions or neglect feelings that are meant to be portrayed among the characters.

Grimly wanted to reveal the child-like, sympathetic side of the monster in his book that he thinks is often abandoned in the movie adaptations (Northwest Public Radio). The illustrations depict the dark sense that the novel surrounds, but is also quirky, which Grimly said he uses to parallel how the monster feels like as an outsider in his world (Grimly). His illustrations of the characters stunningly depict the emotions they are feeling and enable a connection between the reader and the text, even on the pages in which text does not accompany the illustrations. This adaptation is significant because it presents the story of Frankenstein in a new way, focusing on the emotional aspect, but is simultaneously faithful to the story line Shelley intended in 1818.


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