Apologies. My “other” job made some unreasonable demands of me, and now I am late on a few reviews.
Following with the Theme of “the modern Prometheus” (That’s the Frankenstein monster myth for the rest of you) of the post I made a little while ago, I will offer you my reviews on three very different works dealing with the monster. I will focus on three publications that stand out on their own merits.
So first batter up (for those not familiar with the sport of baseball, it’s just a sport metaphor) is a work by an author I quite enjoy, giving the myth his own spin.
Frankenstein’s Womb, a Graphic Novella
Writer(s): Warren Ellis
Artist(s): Marek Oleksicki
US Publisher: Avatar press in 2009
In Frankenstein’s Womb, we read in intimate and lovingly laid out portrait of the myth of Frankenstein, giving more relevance to the creator, Mary Shelley than most predecessors who re-interpreted the myth ever did. Warren Ellis is a writer that is able to find depths to any subject matter he picks, and is able to provide us with a narrative thread that manages to engage, no matter how convoluted or abstract. He usually resorts to a masterful command of the dialog, and here he doesn’t disappoint. The conversations of Mary with the Creature span throughout the whole length of the book, and are the most engaging and multifaceted type of dialog we can encounter, in the type of “an author gets to talk with his character” scenario.
Although Ellis will take us in a journey through time, the overtones in the book are in synch with the original source material : Baroque romanticism. The Creature appears like a mysterious figure of the period, and acts as a guide through the different levels of time circumstance. In graphic form, this interaction gets represented with imagery straight out of wuthering heights, with leaves blowing in the wind, stormy skies and ominous environments.
The cover reads “A graphic Novella by Warren Ellis” and dispels any notion you may be entertaining to call this a comic. It is an illustrated novella, both in size and in depth, and only mature young adults and older (and by older I mean in maturity, not age, we all know that is rarely well correlated) should bother with this.
Warren Ellis gives the figure of Mary Shelley an importance and relevance often deprived of in popular culture. The length of the novella is focuses in existential topics and thorny questions pertaining persistence, identity, the individual vs. society, using as butrasses elements from the original novel to support arguments, but extending the dialogue beyond what the readers hope. Make no mistake. This is a pretty brainy book, but it reads like a comic, masking complex issues and questions behind the language of simplicity. That requires skill, my friends.
The art is perfectly well chosen for the style of Ellis. Marek Oleksicki displays from the get go, a masterful command of the black and white art form. Black and white, being the most respected, but least recognize type of art in comics in the last few decades, many argue that it is because kids like to see “shinny colors” on their comics.
But we are not kids anymore, are we?
I don’t want to put out of work any of the masterful colorists out there, but we can enjoy a few black and white books and still put them on the top of our “must read” lists, can’t we?
Marek Oleksicki regeals us with splash pages, with double pages, with close-ups, with dream-like fluidity at times, at others with the harshness of a caravel adrift in a grey storm. He created a synergy with the writer where his art style kept pace at every moment with the narrative, and at the end, you have to divide the effectiveness of the Graphic novella on a 50/50 scale, half going to the writer the other half to the great artists. And that is a great rate, when you are keeping up with someone of the caliber of Warren Ellis!!
If you want an interesting well written companion to the original novel, a well developed extension that stays in sync with the style of the original author, this Novella is definitely for you.
So, on my Critics rating, gets
7 1/2 STARS