Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Around six to ten days of reading Frankenstein and I’m only on chapter II (meaning I’ve tackled a mere 20 pages). Why is this?

In keeping you informed on my progress in adapting this 1818 version of the classic gothic tale, I thought it appropriate to be thorough in all aspects.

As I said in my first post, there is more preparation to illustrating a masterpiece like Frankenstein than just reading the manuscript from preface to Fin. Not only am I illustrating, but I am also abridging the work of literature as well. I’m finding this more daunting than earlier abridgements I worked on like the Edgar Allen Poe series and Sleepy Hollow. This could be that I feel the writing of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is more refined and intact than the ramblings of Poe and Irving (no disrespect to either of those authors mind you), and it is much more difficult to narrow down what words, dialogue and paragraphs can be omitted.

I have three variations of Frankenstein at my desk. One is the 1818 version of the story printed out from my computer. I believe it is somewhere in the vicinity of 160 pages or so. This is my primary copy. As I read it, I scratch out with a highlighter any of the text I feel could be absent and still tell the story. Each paragraph is read a minimum of three times. Some single lines are read over and over and over until I can figure a way to subtract words and use the existing words to speak for themselves. This version will also be a journal for notes, sketches and doodles penciled among the noir landscape of paragraphs. I will have to expose a few of these pages to you down the road.

A second copy is actually in book format. This is hardly used in hopes that the print out I have is, in fact, the actually unflawed text from the book. But it is good to have the book by my side if I need to reference page numbers or get a sense of book length.

A third copy is the version that all the underachievers read for class when they are told they HAVE TO read Frankenstein. It is a digest thin (57 pages) study guide. This critical analysis of the book is read side by side with the manuscript. This helps me evaluate the story in depth; from the messages and themes of each chapter to 19th century analogies that may not be obvious in today’s society.

With this knowledge I can feel more confident with my dissection of the manuscript to bring you the very best abridgement and give life to a new monster: GRIS GRIMLY’S ILLUSTRATED FRANKENSTEIN.

Now, onto Chapter II.

Until next time…
Be Grim!
Gris Grimly


  1. Gris, that certainly is a task! However, it sounds as if you have an excellant plan. I am excited to see the end result and share it with my middleschool students if I can. Your illustrations along with Poes words (which are typically to difficult for my students to understand) help my students with comprehension and they learn how to define words using context clues with your art. So I thank you for that and encourage you to push through as we all know it will be worth it in many ways!

  2. Would you be selling the first journal w/ the little drawings on the pages? That would be interesting and nice to own.

  3. I am excited to be able to read about your progression in adapting this amazing tale. I am also an illustrator and I appreciate the opportunity to be privy to your work flow.

    Good luck getting through this, and I can't wait to see those sketches!