Thursday, December 8, 2011


I have some exciting news (at least I think it's exciting). I have just finished the last page of volume 2 in the mega Gris Grimly Opus Frankenstein. Weighing in at around 200 pages (and volume 2 finishes on page 131) I'm feeling pretty accomplished. My publisher will be receiving a surprise this holiday...the 50 painted pages that makes up volume 2. Here is the final page for you to partake in this joyous moment.

Now...onto volume 3.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Here is your Illustration of the week. The text to be printed on the page says it all:

Our house was the house of mourning. My father's health was deeply shaken by the horror of the recent events. Elizabeth was sad and desponding.

"When I reflect, my dear cousin, on the miserable death of Justine Moritz, I no longer see the world and its works as they before appeared to me. But now misery has come home, and men appear to me as monsters thirsting for each other's blood. Alas! Victor, when falsehood can look so like the truth, who can assure themselves of certain happiness? William and Justine were assassinated, and the murderer escapes; he walks about the world free, and perhaps respected. But even if I were condemned to suffer on the scaffold for the same crimes, I would not change places with such a wretch."

I listened to this discourse with the extremest agony. I, not in deed, but in effect, was the true murderer.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Sometimes, more often than I'm comfortable with, I will redo a page in it's entirety because I am unhappy with it. If I'm lucky, I will notice my discontent with the piece in time and start over before I've done too much work. But then there are times, where I try to fix the problems or am complacent with the piece, and it's not until the piece is finished that I realize that it needs to be redone. This was the case with the piece above.

When the monster starts to tell his story, it is done with simple black and white cartoons to reflect the infantry in the monsters development. This black and white treatment is done on illustration board which is ideal for ink work. The second chapter of the monsters story reflects a step in development by using black and white washes as my medium. I thought sticking with the illustration board would be the proper choice. But after completion and some time for reflection, I now see that black and white washes using watercolor on watercolor paper would produce a much cleaner result.

So, without getting discouraged, I took to reproducing the piece from scratch. I hope that you notice the difference. I sure do. Unfortunately, this won't be the last page that needs a redo. When all is said and done, it is for the good of the end result. My goal, as it should be with any artist, is to deliver a masterpiece.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Gris Grimly's Frankenstein is a daunting project. I've been working on it for almost three years now. There is approximately 200 illustrated pages, changes in style, historical letters, authentic diagrams and antiquated type fonts. The broad spectrum would make me vomit if I look at it as a whole. But I take it one night at a time.

At this point, all the artwork for volume one has been completed as well as a good portion of volume two. Editor Jordan Brown has teamed me up with designer Dana Fritts to begin putting all these raw materials together. I'm not sure if she is as mad as I am, but she seems to have a pretty good grasp on things. She has a knack for antique book design and typography. I really like what she is doing thus far.

October being October, it is my life force out of the year. So it is really hard for me to keep up with everything with the addition of events, Halloween affiliated projects and commissions. Some things have to be put on the back cauldron to place attention on immediate and encroaching deadlines. One of those things is the volume of Frankenstein work I can do in a week as well as the attention spent on blogs.

But I assure you, once November rolls it's ugly head around, I will be back at it. Posting like a madman and slapping new Frankenstein art around like I'm on campaign.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Here's your page of the week.

In the first chapter of the creature's story, I've chosen to illustrate completely in black and white to represent the creature's undeveloped mind and senses. In the second chapter I introduced grey tones and in the third...sepia. Now, in the forth chapter of the creature's story, I've introduced color. But still, even with color, these pages don't resemble the rest of the book. The cartoony line quality and simple color palate differentiate the creature's story visually from Victor's story.

Here's the text for the page:

"I generally rested during the day, and travelled only when I was secured by night from the view of man. One morning, however, finding that my path lay through a deep wood, I ventured to continue my journey after the sun had risen; the day, which was one of the first of spring, cheered even me by the loveliness of its sunshine and the balminess of the air. I felt emotions of gentleness and pleasure, that had long appeared dead, revive within me. Half surprised by the novelty of these sensations, I allowed myself to be borne away by them; and, forgetting my solitude and deformity, dared to be happy. Soft tears again bedewed my cheeks, and I even raised my humid eyes with thankfulness towards the blessed sun which bestowed such joy upon me.

I continued to wind among the paths of the wood, until I came to its boundary, which was skirted by a deep and rapid river, into which many of the trees bent their branches, now budding with the fresh spring. Here I paused, not exactly knowing what path to pursue, when I heard the sound of voices, that induced me to conceal myself under the shade of a cypress. I was scarcely hid, when a young girl came running towards the spot where I was concealed, laughing as if she ran from some one in sport. She continued her course along the precipitous sides of the river, when suddenly her foot slipt, and she fell into the rapid stream. I rushed from my hiding place, and, with extreme labour from the force of the current, saved her, and dragged her to shore."

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Here is a page from the same "sepia tone" chapter of last week. This is a good example of how I've chosen to change little details to make this story my own. The emotion and the story is the same, but I've changed the blocking in which specific actions are taken and when. In the illustration, the creature realizes his opportunity with the old man and goes to confront him. The quick beating of the heart and the failing limbs happens as he stand outside the cottage about to knock. Blocking the story this way strengthens the creatures emotions and anxiety, drawing out tension. When this occurs during a moment of no return it is more effective than if it happens inside the hovel.

Here is the original text:

"...the old man, at his own desire, was left alone in the cottage. When his children had departed, he took up his guitar, and played several mournful, but sweet airs, more sweet and mournful than I had ever heard him play before. At first his countenance was illuminated with pleasure, but, as he continued, thoughtfulness and sadness succeeded; at length, laying aside the instrument, he sat absorbed in reflection.

My heart beat quick; this was the hour and moment of trial, which would decide my hopes, or realize my fears. The servants were gone to a neighbouring fair. All was silent in and around the cottage: it was an excellent opportunity; yet, when I proceeded to execute my plan, my limbs failed me, and I sunk to the ground. Again I rose; and, exerting all the firmness of which I was master, removed the planks which I had placed before my hovel to conceal my retreat. The fresh air revived me, and, with renewed determination, I approached the door of their cottage.

I knocked."

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Here's your page of the week. The last two posts explained the visual transition from the first chapter of the creature's story (which is entirely black and white) to the second chapter (which introduces grey tones). In the third chapter of his story, I've brought in sepia tones. At this point the creature has evolved quite substantially, now capable of understanding most words of the local language and comprehending literature like Paradise Lost, Plutarch's Lives and Sorrows of Werter. It is at this point that he discovers the writings of Victor Frankenstein and uncovers his accursed origin.

Here is the text for this page. As you can see, some of the text will be printed whereas others will be omitted and represented visually.

"As I read, however, I applied much personally to my own feelings and condition. I found myself similar, yet at the same time strangely unlike the beings concerning whom I read, and to whose conversation I was a listener. I sympathized with, and partly understood them, but I was unformed in mind; I was dependent on none, and related to none. 'The path of my departure was free;' and there was none to lament my annihilation. My person was hideous, and my stature gigantic: what did this mean? Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination? These questions continually recurred, but I was unable to solve them.

Another circumstance strengthened and confirmed these feelings. Soon after my arrival in the hovel, I discovered some papers in the pocket of the dress which I had taken from your laboratory. At first I had neglected them; but now that I was able to decypher the characters in which they were written, I began to study them with diligence. It was your journal of the four months that preceded my creation. You minutely described in these papers every step you took in the progress of your work; this history was mingled with accounts of domestic occurrences. You, doubtless, recollect these papers. Here they are. Every thing is related in them which bears reference to my accursed origin; the whole detail of that series of disgusting circumstances which produced it is set in view; the minutest description of my odious and loathsome person is given, in language which painted your own horrors, and rendered mine ineffaceable. I sickened as I read. 'Hateful day when I received life!' I exclaimed in agony. 'Cursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God in pity made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of your's, more horrid from its very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and detested.'

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


That has pretty much been my routine since Frankenstein started up again. My little Boston Terrier wakes me up in the morning. I consume some breakfast and coffee while discussing the golden age that I was mistakenly plucked from and placed into this hi-tech one. I enter my studio, sit at my desk and ink out black and white comics which will become segments of the creature's story in the big volume that is Gris Grimly's Frankenstein.

But this week there has been a slight change. Instead of the bold and contrasty black and white of every page before, I reached a point where I could add simple grey tones. I am introducing a new element to each chapter of the creature's story which symbolizes the development of his mind. The first chapter was all black and white. This chapter is flat gray tones.

Another thing that is interesting in these early pages is the lack of words. I would like to portray the creature's developing mind through his innocent interpretation. During this time, he does not speak or understand language. So the world he is interpreting is completely visual. Not only will his developing eyesight/brain be represented by a transition from black and white to color, his developing hearing/comprehension will be represented by a transition from icons to words.

All very meta.

Here is the text that is represented in the story of this page. The first paragraph of the chapter will be printed as a transition from the present (where the creature is relaying his story to Victor Frankenstein) to his past memories:

"I lay on my straw, but I could not sleep. I thought of the occurrences of the day. What chiefly struck me was the gentle manners of these people; and I longed to join them, but dared not. I remembered too well the treatment I had suffered the night before from the barbarous villagers, and resolved, whatever course of conduct I might hereafter think it right to pursue, that for the present I would remain quietly in my hovel, watching, and endeavouring to discover the motives which influenced their actions.

The cottagers arose the next morning before the sun. The young woman arranged the cottage, and prepared the food; and the youth departed after the first meal.

This day was passed in the same routine as that which preceded it. The young man was constantly employed out of doors, and the girl in various laborious occupations within. The old man, whom I soon perceived to be blind, employed his leisure hours on his instrument, or in contemplation. Nothing could exceed the love and respect which the younger cottagers exhibited towards their venerable companion. They performed towards him every little office of affection and duty with gentleness; and he rewarded them by his benevolent smiles."

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Here's your page of the week. If you've been following along, you will know why these pages of the Frankenstein story are simplistic black and white cartoons. If you're lost or curious, look at the past couple entries and you will be caught up to speed.

After a few months break from illustrating Frankenstein, "I determined to recommence my travels" or by notification of the editor I was able to continue my work. This segment of Gris Grimly's Frankenstein is the part where the creature is telling Victor Frankenstein his story. This has been broken up into four chapters. The first chapter is told in stark black and white cartoons. The second will represent an evolution of the creature's development by adding grey tones. The third will introduce color. And the fourth, the creature will see things as everyone else, by representing the artwork like the illustrations in the rest of the book.

In order to break the text down into a silent treatment, yet flow smoothly, some ideas had to be cut and others had to be tweaked for visual esthetic. For example, the illustration above will differ in minor details. The point is to get the story across which is passage of time, change of season and individual growth.

You can compare the text below to the illustrated page that represents this text. The best way to portray snowfall graphically is white on black. To do this, I changed the creature's travels to night. Or at least his day's travel ends at early evening. Not only does this clarify the white landscape and snowfall, but it makes an obvious passage of time from when he leaves the forest to when he arrives at the village. With this change, the shepherd's meal is no longer breakfast but dinner. Also, when the creature sets out again and it is daylight, the average reader will interpret that he spent the night in the cabin.

More to come.

"...wrapping myself up in my cloak, I struck across the wood towards the setting sun. I passed three days in these rambles, and at length discovered the open country. A great fall of snow had taken place the night before, and the fields were of one uniform white; the appearance was disconsolate, and I found my feet chilled by the cold damp substance that covered the ground.

It was about seven in the morning, and I longed to obtain food and shelter; at length I perceived a small hut, on a rising ground, which had doubtless been built for the convenience of some shepherd. This was a new sight to me; and I examined the structure with great curiosity. Finding the door open, I entered. An old man sat in it, near a fire, over which he was preparing his breakfast. He turned on hearing a noise; and, perceiving me, shrieked loudly, and, quitting the hut, ran across the fields with a speed of which his debilitated form hardly appeared capable. His appearance, different from any I had ever before seen, and his flight, somewhat surprised me. But I was enchanted by the appearance of the hut: here the snow and rain could not penetrate; the ground was dry; and it presented to me then as exquisite and divine a retreat as Pandæmonium appeared to the dæmons of hell after their sufferings in the lake of fire. I greedily devoured the remnants of the shepherd's breakfast, which consisted of bread, cheese, milk, and wine; the latter, however, I did not like. Then overcome by fatigue, I lay down among some straw, and fell asleep.

It was noon when I awoke; and, allured by the warmth of the sun, which shone brightly on the white ground, I determined to recommence my travels; and, depositing the remains of the peasant's breakfast in a wallet I found, I proceeded across the fields for several hours, until at sunset I arrived at a village..."

Friday, August 5, 2011


Thunder rumbles beyond the castle walls while Jacob's Ladders release lightning bolts up rabbit ears that dissipate into the damp cellar air. The electrical devices that whirl and electrocute can get inside your head like the annoyance of a bug zapper on a quiet night. But this is a sanctuary for a mad genius like Frankenstein (Sometimes pronounced Frawn'ken-stean').

Having just been lowered from the the castle rooftop with his smoking creation clamped down to a cold slab, the mad creator beats his fist on the monsters chest. THUD. THUD. He listens to the still heartbeat showing no signs of life. Again. THUD. THUD. THUD. Frankenstein flops over the hulking corpse and admits defeat. "Nothing".

"Oh Doctor", his blond bombshell assistant, Inga, tries to comfort, "I'm sorry..."

"No. No." The doctor throws his arms up. "Be of good cheer. If science teaches us anything, it teaches us to accept our failures as well as our successes...with quiet...dignity...and grace."

The Doctor caresses his creation's lifeless forehead. A sigh emits from between his lips and he turns away. "Son of a Bitch!" He lunges back to strangulate the stubborn life that he cannot procure. "Bastard! I'll get you for this! What did you do to me? What did you do to me?"

Inga tries to pull him away, "Doctor! Doctor! Stop it! You'll kill him!"

Beating down on the monster's chest like a bohemian percussionist, he screams to the heavens, "I don't want to live! I DO NOT...WANT...TO LIVE!"

CUT TO: Hours later...

The Doctor accepts his failure during a quiet dinner, "Oh. Maybe it's better this way. The poor lifeless hulk. Maybe it is better off dead."

But down in the cellar, the creature stirs. His finger twitches as it's lungs grunt. Frankenstein runs down the cellar stairs followed by his two assistants. Success. Pride. "Alive. It's alive. It's ALIIIVVVEEE!"

This little scene from Mel Brooks' classic YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN pretty much sums it up for me. After working on the book for over two years, I am put on hold while a few things are organized back at the publishing house. It was full of electricity and ready to be set free. Then, silence. A couple times I pounded at the life source thinking things were going to go. But "nothing". I turned away. I erupted in uncontrolled bursts of madness. I became suicidal. I became depressed.

Then months later, I accepted my fate. I moved on with my life and fooled myself into thinking it was all for the best. Then a sound came from the darkness. The sound was a chime signifying INCOMING MAIL. I checked my email to find word from my editor to proceed.

"It's ALIVE!...again.

For those of you who are new, here's what you can expect: I will be posting regular updates on my progress with Frankenstein. This will include a "page of the week" where I will give you a sneak of a finished page once a week. For those of you who have been following this blog, you already know what to expect. But the dead silence is over and you can check back regularly and expect to be horrified.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I have begun to illustrate pages from a section in my Frankenstein book that I am really excited about. When I first talked to my editor about how I envisioned the book, we talked about who's perspective the story is told through. The original Mary Shelley's version is really a story within a story within a story within a story... Mary Shelley is telling a story about an explorer, who is telling a story about Victor Frankenstein, who is telling a story about his creation, who is telling a story about himself. I choose to tell the story through the perspective of Victor Frankenstein.

At the heart of it, Frankenstein is a story about a man and his obsession; How he abandons family, friends and health for this obsession and eventually he abandons the obsession itself. So I've decided that the majority of the book would be illustrated a certain way to represent this perspective. The sailor's story is told through letters and Mary Shelley's story and Victor Frankenstein's story have been combined as she is the author. This leaves the monster's perspective.

What I wanted to do with the monsters story is present it in a way that was more childlike, yet does not feel foreign alongside the other artwork. When the monster starts his story, it is black and white ink art much like that in newspaper comics and completely pictorial. As the story continues and the monster becomes more evolved and familiar with the world, so does the artwork. The next chapter mid tones are introduced to the art. The chapter after that, monochromatic color is introduced... and so on and so forth until the art in the monsters story resembles the rest of the art in the book.

Here are two pages from the monster's genesis.

Monday, March 14, 2011


For those of you who have been following along, you know that I am diving back into the epic workload that is Gris Grimly's Frankenstein; Based faithfully off the text of Mary Shelley but visually reinterpreted in a way that has never been done. That is my assignment. And what a daunting task it is.

With 75 pages completed for volume I, I still have another 100 pages to illustrate for volumes II and III. Volume one begins with Victor reflecting on the death of Justine, his guilt and a hopeless future. Emotionally, he walks into the darkness in solitude which sets the tone for his struggles that last throughout the rest of the book.

I have a huge workload to tackle which involves me entering my dark studio day after day in solitude. For the next few months, maybe as much as a year, I will be intertwining my mind with the writings of Shelley and the emotional and psychological manifestations of Victor. I too, am destined for a dark and solitary journey.

"I shunned the face of man; all sound of joy or complacency was torture to me; solitude was my only consolation - deep, dark, death-like solitude."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Greetings fiends,
It has been months since I've worked on Frankenstein and therefore there have been no updates or blog postings. But a couple weeks ago, I received an email from Frankenstein's editor with progressive information. "attached you’ll find a PDF template of all your sketches from these two volumes plugged in, with basic FPO text blocks, so we can see what we’re working with. Design created this and then passed it to me, and I used this PDF to create the notes below"

A bit technical, but this is the news I was waiting for to proceed. With this information, I am now able to proceed on a few illustrations. Yesterday I went through all the notes my editor sent me and composed an email pinpointing those that will work and benefit the book and those that are better left unchanged. So I should be having a conversation with him soon regarding this that will open the gates of hell and unleash me into the playground.

Today, I illustrated the first Frankenstein page in over 6 months. How exciting is that! What better illustration to tackle than the volume page for volume III. This page sets up the scene for the remainder of the book where Victor is moved to create yet another fiend from rifled graves. This time he creates a woman to wed the monster, in hopes that his problems will go away. But they only get worse.

I am now in a place, like before, where I am unleashed and free to create my madness. There's no holding me back and the creations will flow out like spilled bowels. Welcome back to the Frankenstein Blog which is once again alive. I leave you with this passage of vengeance from the mouth of Victor Frankenstein:

"By the sacred earth on which I kneel, by the shades that wander near me, by the deep and eternal grief that I feel, I swear; and by thee, O Night, and by the spirits that preside over thee, I swear to pursue the demon, who caused this misery, until he or I shall perish in mortal conflict. I call on you, spirits of the dead; and on you, wandering ministers of vengeance, to aid and conduct me in my work. Let the cursed and hellish monster drink deep of agony; let him feel the despair that now torments me."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I apologize for the lack of posts currently going on at Gris Grimly's Frankenstein blog. This has to do with the publishing industry. Here's a quick overview to help you understand what is going on.

My editor at Harper Collins is the big cheese on this project. He is a great man with an amazing taste in music. But that is neither here nor there and has nothing to do with what I am trying to explain. Along with Frankenstein, he is the editor of many other projects that he must oversee. It is imperative that he dedicates adequate time to each of these projects in order for the final results to reflect perfection. Sometimes everything lines up just right. When i send in my work for approval, he is just getting off another project and can jump right into mine and onto the next. Even though this takes time, the turn around with him is usually quick.

When does it all go to shit? During the holidays. Imagine me and every other artist/author (currently working on a project with him) turning in work for approval. Then DING DONG it's Christmas time and everyone is let off for the holidays. They usually come back between Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years. But seriously, do you think any work gets done during this time? By the time he gets to his office in the new year, everyone wants something. There is a stack of papers on the desk, the phone is ringing, coffee breaks happen much more becomes impossible to get anything done. But slowly, as time goes by, things start to get checked off the list and somewhere around March or April everything is back to normal.

So I ask you to be patient. Currently the editor of Frankenstein is sitting on pages and pages of Frankenstein sketches to go through. These sketches need all the text laid into them so we can tell where we have too much art, not enough art or if any text needs to be cut. This could take awhile. In the meantime, there is really nothing I can work on until this step is complete.

Take a deep breath, keep open on your computer and check every hour- day and night. Soon...very soon...I will be back with more gory updates on this much anticipated project.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly