Wednesday, November 17, 2010


One of my favorite horror films (or in any genre for that matter) is "The Bride of Frankenstein" by James Whale. It is the perfect combination of horror, camp, comedy and style. It was extremely edgy for the time period, taking jabs at religion and alluding to homosexuality. Being the sequel to the hugely successful "Frankenstein", Whale had more freedom to put his stamp on the film. This style elevated "Bride" into a much more charming film (although less frightening than it's predecessor). A scene that has always tattooed it's image on my brain is Doctor Pretorius sitting in a crypt, having wine by candlelight with a pile of female bones which he exhumed. Whale, like Edward Gorey and Charles Addams, had the keen skill of knowing the exact measurements when it came to combining humor with morbidity.

Another reason why "Bride" has such an impact on me (again having to do with Whale's unique style) is the design for the Monster's Mate. The look for the bride came from James Whale and Ernest Thesiger, inspired by Queen Nefertiti of Egypt and Maria of Metropolis. Only a flaming homosexual would think to model a female monster after a Queen. But it is this exact vision that gave birth to the horror icon of beauty and worship that she is today. Those are big shoes to fill.

Over the past week, I've been working on the design for the Monster's Mate for my illustrated version of Frankenstein. Even though she doesn't play near the role in the book that she does in Whale's film, I think it is important that her image is as developed as any other character in the book.

I drew upon my own interests and elements of my modern world to piece together the character. Most of these "raw materials" came from my love for styles found in horror punk, death rock and goth culture. I don't see myself a part of any genre, but I'm fascinated by the spectacle of these fashions. I wanted my bride to not only capture horror and sympathy but also sexuality. Without making it evident, I allude to fetishism with imagery mimicking tights, corsets and platform heels. The result...

...a creation that is both horrifying and appealing. A tragic victim on the verge of the same misfortune delivered to the Monster.

It feels good to be getting back into this project. I am almost done wrapping up sketches for volumes 2 and 3, which means I will be moving onto illustrating pages. I will be contributing more to this blog, posting the page of the week and updating you on any and all progress. I look forward to resurrecting this community again.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I am not dead. I am still alive and working on Frankenstein. But now that volume one is illustrated and sent off to the editor, I am in the midst of reading volume two and three and deciphering these words into page layouts. It is a tedious and long process with very little to show. So I ask that you be patient and stay with me. I will soon, again, be posting exciting and new page illustrations to this macabre creation of mine.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Here is your page of the week (or should we say pages). There will be a few pages in the Frankenstein book where the text will overlay on top of illustrated entries in Victor's journal. Here are three of those pages to show you how different they are from the rest of the book. The idea here is to illustrate the story one way (the typical GG style) and the art that exists in that world another way (more realistic). This separates my story from their stories. You will see this reflected again when the monster is telling Victor his story. The artwork will be completely different from the rest of the book. All exciting stuff...don't you think?

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Here is your page of the week. In this scene, Justine has been taken to court having been framed for the murder of Victor's baby brother William. A fierce courtroom renders all the witnesses fearful to come forward. All, that is, except for Elizabeth. Elizabeth stands and addresses the court in hopes that her testimony will sway the jury into finding her good friend Justine innocent.

" I am well acquainted with the accused. I have lived in the same house with her. During all that period she appeared to me the most amiable and benevolent of human creatures. She nursed Madame Frankenstein, my aunt, in her last illness with the greatest affection and care; and afterwards attended her own mother during a tedious illness. She was warmly attached to the child who is now dead, and acted towards him like a most affectionate mother. For my own part, I do not hesitate to say, that, notwithstanding all the evidence produced against her, I believe and rely on her perfect innocence.”

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Here is your pic of the week. I decided to post this illustration to explain a certain process that occurs while working in almost any industry. That process is a little thing called compromise. The symbol used at the bottom of this illustration (the circled star with an eye) is the final design for the symbol representing an occult alchemist that influences Victor. I wanted this version of Frankenstein to put more of an emphasis in the black arts and supernatural rituals than any other version that I've encountered. To do this, I incorporated imagery of cauldrons, black robes, incantations, medallions, candles and occult symbols.

Realism is the key to all fiction and fantasy. So I turned to researching alchemy books to design the symbol that would represent the Alchemy Masters that Victor becomes obsessed with at an early age. The symbols that I liked most were circled stars. One, actually representing life and death which I thought was uncanny.

I took these symbols and simplified them to be a basic design with intersecting triangles (one upside down/one right side up) in a circle. I liked this symbol for it's simplicity, derived meaning and similarity to the satanic pentagram. I started using this symbol in the final illustrations for the book.

I received a comment from my editor who had concerns that the symbol resembled the Star of David and did not want the message to be misconstrued that the dark resurrection of the dead was affiliated with the Jewish faith. I'm a respectable person and live by the motto that all faiths, their customs and gods should not be scrutinized or mocked. Although the resemblance to the Star of David was not intentional, I did like the reference to the silent film "Der Golem".

For those of you unfamiliar with the film Der Golem, it is a Jewish Folktale with a monster similar to that in the tale of Frankenstein. In the 1920 film by Paul Wegener, a Jewish rabbi creates a giant creature (The Golem) from clay and using sorcery brings it to life in order to protect the Jews of Prague from persecution. The Star of David is shown during the Golem's awakening, alluding to the power that brings him to life. Also, a star on the Golem's chest is used as a good/evil switch. When the star is upright the Golem's acts are good. When the star is inverted (like a pentagram) it works for EVIL. All really good stuff.

With all that being said, I didn't want to cause any problems. And even if the editor or I didn't care to offend anyone, there is always the publishing committee who can be a bunch of bastards to fight against. I couldn't just create a new symbol, because that would mean me illustrating pages over that have the old symbol in them. I had to take the old symbol and evolve it. I played around with many ideas until I came up with a simple solution. By placing an eye in the center of the design, it looks nothing like the Star of David and it looks super cool. It reminds me of something out of an HP Lovecraft book.

Let's just hope the Illuminati doesn't get offended.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Thursday, May 13, 2010


While I was in New York meeting with the editor, we decided to cushion my original layout with a couple extra pages. The reason behind this is a bit complex to explain. The main reason is to have strong page turning moments (take that and make what you want out of it). It was decided that one page would be added towards the end of the story where the text was too heavy in contrast to the illustrations. The other area we decided to add a page was the creation of the monster scene.
This was originally planned to be told in one page and the page was already illustrated. But there were many reasons why I didn't like the illustrations on the page. First of all, I thought the colors were too bright. I like the vibrant green representing the serum of life because it is a nice contrast to the gloomy world. It gives it that unworldly feel. But I didn't like the bright pinks, yellow and the overuse of the warm rust color. Also, I didn't care for Victor's face in the second and forth panels. So rather than just adding a page to this page, I did two new pages.
It seemed best to break the illustrations up between the first and second panel on the original page. The first panel is a good introduction. It fits well with "In a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house, and separated from all the other apartments by a gallery and staircase, I kept my workshop of filthy creation;". But the second and remaining panels on the original page seemed to illustrate the hardcore moments of the monster creation. So I split those apart and threw in some extra building scenes like playing with alchemy, buckets of guts, bringing in materials and starting to assemble the wretch. This was all done with a much more muted pallet which I love. This choice creates a dingy and stuffy tone for the workshop in which Victor confines himself for days, weeks and months assembling a monster.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Here's your illustration of the week. In this image, Victor is first introduced to the young Elizabeth, who is adopted and brought home by his mother. Victor's mother was so taken by this beautiful and gentle child that she immediately considers her to be the future wife of Victor. The part I like most about this page is the ribcage and heart binding the two as adults.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Here is your illustration of the week. This is another image that portrays the unique and stylized take I have chosen for the world. Here, Victor visits professor M Waldman and discusses science, chemistry and philosophy. Victor is given a tour of M Waldman's laboratory and his "various machines". I have taken this opportunity to visually narrate the technology used to create the monster. This idea came to me when I read the passages "He then took me into his laboratory, and explained to me the uses of his various machines" and "not to derange their mechanism". I thought about having these crazy machines that M Waldman created that operate on the reanimated muscle and organs of living creatures by a glowing green fluid. These bizarre contraptions become the springboard to Victor's imagination, using these same techniques to bring his own creation to life (by "deranging the mechanism" of course).

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Here's the page of the week. In this illustration, Victor's mother has just passed away and his journey to Ingolstadt to attend university comes to be. "This period was spent sadly; my mother's death, and my speedy departure depressed our spirits".

I've been cruising on these pages at a good pace. I look forward to completing the first volume and proceeding onto the next. The last few pages of volume one (which I am yet to tackle) pertain to the false accusal and execution of Justine Moritz for the murder of Victor's little brother. In these pages, I plan to illustrate the trial and execution in an entirely new way. I'm really looking forward to it. In a way, the illustrating of those pages will be the act of celebration to the completion of volume one.

Great things await ahead...

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Here is your illustration of the week. In this visual representation of the text Victor takes his friend Clerval back to his apartment, still paranoid that the monster may be lurking within the confines. His imagination gets the best of him and he collapses, begging his friend for help.

You may be asking, "Hey Grimly, where are all the neato images of the monster and darker/gruesome parts of the story?" The answer to that is simple. I want to keep you foaming at the mouth until the book comes out. Anticipation is torture. Is it not?

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Saturday, April 10, 2010


My trip to New York dumped me in a hostile climate much colder than I am used to living in Los Angeles. Although there was nothing I could really do about my toes going numb every day, I was able to bundle up with my layers of clothing and did alright. I even bought some brown gloves on St. Marks place with skull on cross bone prints. But after I purchased them, I realized how lame they were and wished I had just bought plain brown gloves. Oh well.

Harper Collins invited me and my artist friend Christy Kane in from the cold to have a design meeting with the editor on Frankenstein, Jordan Brown, and the art director. As you can see in the image above, I have a very opinionated view on the way I want this book to look. The art director had taken all of my sketches and finished images and placed them into a dummy version of the book with a temporary typeface. For the most part, the book is looking amazing. But there were a few changes I wanted made if the book was going to meet my expectations. I made my demands with an iron fist. Arguments broke out and objects were thrown. We said some things we didn't mean (or at least wouldn't normally express the things we were thinking out loud). It got a bit ugly and a brawl almost broke out. At this point, Jordan was questioning what he was getting into and the art director was rethinking her position working at a publishing house that would work with a psychopath like me.

We didn't really make amends, but the editor and I got a picture which captures the disdain we were feeling towards each other at the end of our meeting. Like gentlemen we shook hands and parted ways, even though we really wanted to bash each others heads in. We knew that we would have to meet again in a couple days to continue our discussions on Frankenstein.

A couple of days later we met over a steak dinner (nothing fuels the scrapping beast like near raw meat). We discussed promotional ideas for the book. One of these, which I am quite fond of, is to create a mock trailer inspired by old Universal horror film trailers of the classic era.

After dinner, we went to a bar and had some whiskey. We got a bit sidetracked from talking about Frankenstein and ended up talking most of the night about music and the bands that we like. We had some more whiskey, talking about Magnolia Electric Co., Bon Iver, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Iron and Wine and other great folk artists. More whiskey was consumed. We traded band suggestions for both of us to check out. I checked out his suggestions and they pretty much all sucked. And I gave him some horrible suggestions knowing that they would melt his face off. That's just the kind of relationship we have.

After a few more whiskeys, we got another picture. This time, it actually looks like we can tolerate each other. There is a lesson to be learned here; meetings always go better when there is whiskey involved.

Until next time,
Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Here is your illustration of the week. In this page, Victor visits one of his professors and is ridiculed for studying and following authors of alchemy.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


There are no illustration updates this week. I have just returned from a week in New York, and therefore have nothing new to post. While in the big apple, I saw an exhibit of Tim Burton artwork at MOMA (which was quite inspiring) and had a couple meetings with the editor on this Frankenstein project, Jordan Brown. A soon approaching blog post will cover this meeting more in depth. Now that I have returned home, I will be cracking the whip so I will have more art to show you next week.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I have now completed a third of the pages for the first volume of Frankenstein. That is approximately 24 pages I have illustrated thus far. There are three volumes to the book and I have estimated approximately 200 illustrated pages needed to tell the story in the style that I have chosen. That means I have completed one eighth of the book. Hell, is that overwhelming.

Here is the page of the week. In this scene, Victor receives a letter from his father informing him that his little brother has been murdered. His friend Clerval asks what he will do. Victor responds "To go instantly to Geneva" to see his family and home.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Here's another page to tease you with. Every week, I will choose one page to post up on this blog that carries something relative to say about it. I felt this page would make a good candidate because it exposes some of the strange elements (like the mechanical horses) of this fairy tale world I am developing.

More to come.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


It's been a long time since my last update. Most of this was due to some unexpected happenings that became a distraction over the past two months. But I'm getting back into the swing of things. Here are three pages posted in hopes to satisfy your appetite after leaving you parched for so long.

Until next time.