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.
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.