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


  1. Hexagrams show up over 10,000 years ago...

  2. You know, what's funny about that is the star of David was originally a seal that was a part of the Solomonic texts. It's actually the Seal of Solomon, & he practiced what today would be known as "dark arts". Four of the points represented the elements, and the remaining two were for heaven and earth. He gave this to his son David to protect him from harm.
    In some of the folklore, Solomon had a ring with the seal on it which he would throw into the flesh of demons in order to control them. It was utilized later in alchemy as being the symbol for transmutation. Sounds pretty fitting to be illustrated in Frankenstein... the real Frankenstein actually did practice alchemy (he died of lead poisoning, or something of the like, because he swore the liquid he created was the philosophers stone. Haha poor mad genius).
    So, I have to say, you're pretty dead on and I'm happy to see the illustrations that way. =)