From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: I, Frankenstein

The world of movies and comics have both had their massive shares of versions of Frankenstein’s Monster, and sometimes they mix as comics have been made based on the films, like Topps adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and even Dark Horse Comics’ adaptation of the Universal Frankenstein.  On this From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update we will be taking a look at a comic from Darkstorm based on the 2014 film I, Frankenstein that stars Aaron Eckhart as Adam aka The Monster. It’s amazing how this classic character created by writer Mary Shelley in 1818 has lived on through the decades and has grown and been shaped into many different versions, from normal looking human all the way to a giant deformed creature and everything in-between. So let’s head down to the lab and hope for some lightning as we take a quick look at I, Frankenstein in film and comic.

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Let’s take a look at Adam and who and what he is in the I, Frankenstein universe. His creator Dr. Victor Frankenstein made Adam when he stitched together corpses in 1795 and after being disgusted by his new creation he tried to kill it, only for Adam to return and take the life of Victor’s bride Elizabeth. After Victor froze to death trying to get revenge on Adam, his creation buried his one time master in the family cemetery and soon finds out that demons want him as they think he holds the secret of bringing life back from the dead.  They want to make an army of soulless bodies possessed by demon souls. Adam is taken in by the gargoyles that give him powerful clubs, and he finds out that they are the enemies of the demons.  Adam spends a large part of his life hiding from them, and after years in hiding, he decides to take the war to the demons. Adam is super strong and skilled with clubs that make demons burst into flames. He is also smart and can use his wits to come up with game plans to attack his enemies as well as get his own fat out of the fire. While soulless, he has the want to learn and even shows compassion for humans and hate for demons and even gargoyles alike. Adam’s go to for killing are his clubs and blades that are made with silver as well as his fists.  His brute power makes him a powerful foe to any man or creature that gets in his way. Adam also has an alliance with the gargoyles who will fight by his side against the matters of evil. His weakness is his rage as he can rush into things and doesn’t think them out.  He can also be hurt just like a human and this means he can also die like one. Another weakness for him is he can feel love as well as loneliness, and this leaves him open for matters of the heart. While he has only killed two humans, he has killed a massive amount of demons and his not afraid to fight making him a man (or is that creature?) to reckon with.

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So know that we know what Adam is about and why he is alive and filled with attitude! I think it’s time that we now take a look at the film, and as always our friends at IMDB will supply us with the film’s plot and I will share some little facts and information about it as well as my thoughts on the film.

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I, Frankenstein (2014)

“Dr Victor Frankenstein dies frozen to death and the creature buries him at the cemetery of his family. However he is attacked by demons but he kills one of them and Gargoyles save him and take him to a Cathedral where the Gargoyles Order gathers. The Queen of the Gargoyles Leonore keeps Dr. Frankenstein’s journal together with the treasures of the Order and gives the name of Adam to the creature. Then she explains to Adam that there is an ancient war between the Gargoyles that are angels and demons under the command of the Prince Naberius. She also invites Adam to join the Gargoyles in the war against demons, but Adam prefers to isolate in a remote place. Two hundred years later, Adam returns and finds a modern society. Soon he learns that Naberius has the intention of creating an army of soulless corpses to be possessed by demons. The scientist Terra is researching a process to create life and Naberius is seeking Dr Frankenstein’s journal to help Terra and raise his army.”

The film was released in theaters on January 24, 2014 by Lionsgate and was directed by Stuart Beattie, who had only directed one film before this, the 2010 film “Tomorrow, When The War Began.”  It starred such actors as Aaron Eckhart, Yvonne Strahovski and Miranda Otto and was sadly not a winner at the Box Office in America and beyond, only bringing in a total of $71,154,592.00 on a budget of $65 million and ranking at # 108 for the year only beating out other cult horror films like Devil’s Due, Vampire Academy, Tusk and The Pyramid showing sadly that this classic monster had lost steam with movie goers. The film’s score was done by Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek and is well done and is something that I play on the Sunday night WYSO show Alpha Rhythms. The weekend that the movie was released to theaters Juliet and I went to see it on that Sunday, and while not many other moviegoers where in the theater with us, we both found it very interesting and entertaining and for my Matt Goes To The Movies 2014 update I ranked it at # 5 out of the 11 Horror Films I saw that year. Aaron Eckhart does a great job as Adam and while he has some nasty scars, it is funny how his hair is perfect and his height is only a little over 6 foot tall making him one of the shortest Frankenstein Monsters I can remember since the likes of Robert De Niro! The producers of this film were the same people behind The Underworld series and at one time the rumor going around was that I, Frankenstein and Underworld were going to be mixed in a film that would have had not only Frankenstein’s Monster but also vampires, werewolves, demons and gargoyles for a monster battle royal of blood and pain! But with the film’s poor showing at the Box Office, the idea fell into developmental Hell and was just scraped. The film has been released on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital and has gotten a small following on the home media market. So while this film is not as popular as other Frankenstein motion pictures, it is an entertaining one that I enjoyed and am looking forward to reading this comic.  If you have not seen the film, I would say check it out if you like your horror mixed with action.

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I, Frankenstein was made for comics as creator Kevin Grevioux who originally had this story as a graphic novel idea that was made into a film thanks to the folks at Lionsgate and would get a comic based on the film by Darkstorm Comics.  So as you can see this property was very much a comic heavy one that is shocking that it never got the respect as other Grevioux series have achieved. I want to thank an Ebay seller who had this comic in stock so that I could do this update. I also need to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready to walk alongside Adam as he makes his leaps from the movie screen into the pages of this comic, we should get into the review.

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I, Frankenstein: Genesis # 1  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Price $0.00     DarkStorm     #1 of 1

Karlos and Miriam of The Order are in the Alps keeping an eye on Adam aka Frankenstein’s Monster as that is their job to watch him and report if he is in any danger.  They soon share some stories, and the first is about Prince Naberius the ruler of the demons who rose to power in England in the 1100’s when he was able to take over the body of a Templar Knight named Charles Wessex who was a traitor to the church and God and was sentenced to be hung for his crimes.  But upon escape, he made a deal with Naberius who possessed his body and became powerful and after the one time ruler of the Demons is found to be a traitor Naberius kills him and takes his place as ruler and set his sights on findings Dr. Frankenstein and his secrets of creating life. Back in present day, The Order members back at the home base share the story of Leonore the Queen of the Gargoyles.  Her story starts in 1621 when she was a young warrior for the Gargoyles.  After a mistake that left one of her fellow protectors dead, she was exiled from her tribe only to be found and trained by Ezra from another tribe who took her under his wing. She returned to the Gargoyles and told them of the Demon’s plans to use humans in their attacks so that the Gargoyles would fall from grace for taking a human life. After a big battle with the demons and saving human lives, she was made their Queen. The Order then goes on to share a story about Adam and how way back he fell in love with a blind woman named Rachel and that the Gargoyles wanted him to just follow them to their base and not live his own life.  When demons find him, they attack Rachel and Adam goes crazy and kills the demons and soon finds that Rachel is also a Gargoyle, and they set him up to show that he is selfish! Back in present time Adam has arrived into the city and The Order prays for his and their safety!

This oversized comic was a perfect release to go along with the movie as it breaks down the backstories of the three major characters from the movie and makes you care about why and how they became the creatures they are in the film. The comic’s plot has The Order following Adam in the Alps all the while they are sharing stories about Adam as well as the Demon Prince Naberius and the Gargoyle Queen Leonore while Adam is heading into the town below. Adam is quite and mission driven in the modern setting and in the past seems lost until he thinks he has found true love in Rachel, the blind woman who in turn is just bait to make him feel terrible about himself as the Gargoyles keep calling him selfish. Leonore is shown to have been an amazing warrior who had the extra sight that allowed her to save lives and the souls of her fellow Gargoyles. Leonore is also very interesting as she was put down and called names as those warriors above her thought she was nothing but a coward when in fact she was the purist and strongest one of them all. And it showed that Prince Naberius has been obsessed with the idea of finding the secrets of Dr. Frankenstein so that an army of soulless demon possessed beings can be created and rule the world and kill off all the Gargoyles. I also like that when his body has grown old, he chooses a new one that is a corrupted Templar Knight! Oh man, this comic should have had Adam fighting the Blind Dead…ha! I know that makes no sense in the I, Frankenstein universe, but it still would have been cool. I really liked the format of this comic as each person’s story had a different artist on it and each had their own style and feel making it really seem as if the different storytellers of this issue had different ways of sharing the legends and stories. The cover is eye catching and is sure to please fans of the film.  The only downside to the cover is the large print of the film’s release date. The comic has many artist attached and are the following: Dario Carrasco did the wrap around story and his style is solid and reminds me of early Dark Horse Comic stuff. Roberto Castro handled the pencil for the Prince Naberius story and his style is good and reminds me of Topps Comics. Edu Menna was the artist behind the Leonore story, and it’s fantastic and reminded me of a more tame Chaos Comics style. And lastly and my least favorite art style for this issue was done by Ryan Benjamin and to me it just seems a little too sloppy.  While it’s not terrible, it’s just not the style I like. Over all this comic that acts as a prequel to the film is a great read and truly does help add a new layer to the world of I, Frankenstein. While this is not the best Frankenstein comic book I have ever read, it is a really good one that Horror Comic Fans who like action mixed with their horror should check out. Take a look below for some of the art styles from this comic.

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I, Frankenstein would go on to get his own limited comic mini series that from what I can gather was only released digitally and that’s a shame as digital comics lack the soul of the physical and left this Horror Comic reader not reading it. But while we leave Adam and his quest to defeat demons, we are staying in the world of Horror Films for our next update.  While it’s not a comic based one, it’s something that is an event that me and my friends have always loved doing as well as something I have chatted about here at Rotten Ink on many updates as I feel it’s time you get The History Of The Horror Movie Marathon! So make sure to come back for that one as it’s a tale of VHS, DVD and amazing friends all enjoying the horrors of the small screen.  So until next time read a horror comic or three, watch a horror movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you for the marathon!

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The Lost And Found Frankenstein Monster

Hollywood has lost many films that could never see the light of day again.  Some have just been misplaced, and some have been lost to vault fires and neglect. But every once in a while, when a blue moon is in the sky, and the stars align just right, a “lost” film is found like 1922’s Nosferatu.  It had one print survive after all others were destroyed over copyright issues with the widow of Bram Stoker.  But many others stay lost like the Lon Chaney Sr. vampire mystery horror film, London After Midnight. One film that has been found by a private collector named Alois F. Dettlaff when he bought it from his mother-in-law in the 1950’s and later in the 1970’s was made known, is the 1910 version of Frankenstein made by Edison Studios. This “lost” film was like a Holy Grail for fans of the classic monsters, and many people wanted to see just what the first Frankenstein film was like, and with some film stills being around before the film was found, this just fueled the fire of fans wanting to get their hands on a copy to watch. The look of the Monster is not what most think of when the monster pops in your head.  He has no bolts from his neck, no black suit and no flat top head. Instead we have a Monster with wild hair, a crunched up creepy face, and he wears rags. Plus finding out that this 1910 Monster’s origin has him made in a vat of chemicals, not lightning, changes the image and style that we all grew up with. The first time I ever saw this version of the Monster was in the CrestWood House Monster Series Frankenstein book, and I was transfixed by the strange look of the Monster and how his hair almost made him look beast like. I always wanted to see the film to see just how the Monster acted and so that I could compare him to the classic Universal version. Below are some pictures of the Monster from the 1910 film.  I would like for you to take a moment and just look at this creepy guy, and pretend that you first saw this film in 1910 when it was made.  I want you to ask yourself, would you have been scared to sleep that night?

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As I said, the Monster himself was a odd looking creature and looked like a misshaped beast with a sinister look in his eyes and a twisted snarl for a smile. The actor who played this part was Charles Ogle, a character actor who went on to be in over 300 films of the silent era and played such characters as Long John Silver (Treasure Island, 1920), Bob Cratchit (A Christmas Carol in 1910) and a doctor in the 1923 version of The Ten Commandments. In the version of Treasure Island, he got to work alongside the master of silent film Lon Chaney Sr. This is a cool thing when you break down what both had done for the world of horror! Ogle worked in films from 1910 to 1926 and sadly passed away in 1940 from arteriosclerosis at the age of 75. While he is not as well known as Boris Karloff and while his version of Frankenstein’s Monster is not as iconic, it still remains that Charles Ogle was one of the first actors to play the part and scared the life out of those who saw the film at the time.  So here is to you, Charles Ogle, for being one of film’s first actors of fright! Oh I should also say that he is an Ohio boy like myself as he was born in Steubenville.

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The part of Elizabeth was played by the lovely Mary Fuller who was a stage actress and a very popular one at that. Her first major film role came in the 1910 Frankenstein film that helped launch her career as an actress and later as a screen writer. For a time she was one of the most popular silent film actresses just behind Mary Pickford, but her ride came to an end in 1917 when her last couple of films did not bring in the money the studios wanted.  She became a free agent when her studio contract expired.  She was offered stage work again on Broadway but turned it down and disappeared from the public eye for almost a decade. After her film career had ended and her attempt at a relationship with an opera singer (who was already married), she had a nervous breakdown and spent time trying to get better and get her life back on track. In 1926 she tried to make a comeback in Hollywood, and it was a failed attempt.  She felt alone and always felt as if she had a void that could not be filled.  When her mother passed away in 1940, she suffered her second breakdown that had her sister having to watch over her until 1947 when she was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Washington were she would remain for 25 years until her death in 1973 at the age of 85. Her sad tale doesn’t end there.  On her passing, no relatives could be found, and she was buried in an unmarked grave at a local cemetery. Mary Fuller was a talented actress with a sad and tragic life, but her work in films will live on and keep her memory alive. This update is for you, Mary, may you rest in peace and find happiness you were looking for.

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With a film of this age, merchandise was not even thought of.  No one in 1910 walked around with their Frankenstein t-shirt carrying a Frankenstein mug filled with hot coco thinking about going home and playing their Frankenstein video game…it just didn’t happen. But over time, with the film gaining a cult status and having the “lost” film mystique, merchandise was unavoidable! Masks, models and shirts were made as well as toys! One of the toys that was found everywhere for awhile was made by Mezco as part of their Silent Screamers line, and while a cool figure, it looked NOTHING like Ogle as the Monster. Another cool item that has sprung up is the film’s soundtrack done by Life Toward Twilight.  It’s a very well done score with just the right amount of mood and brood to chill one’s bones. So if you’re a fan, there is stuff out there for you to buy and enjoy.

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My brother was attending Sinclair, a local Ohio community college, and was taking a class alongside my friend Josh Weinberg about the History of Horror Films.  The early horror film class was taught by Rick Martin, owner of RMM Agency and manager of Horror Host Dr. Creep, while the modern classes were taught by Andy Copp, a local film and TV director. While in Rick’s class, Bryan and Josh were able to see the 1910 Frankenstein as Rick showed it to his class as a part of horror history. I was so jealous when I heard this and so wanted to see it! Flash forward some years later to when I was working a table with Andy Copp at Cinema Wasteland, a Horror Convention in Strongsville, Ohio near Cleveland.  All over the convention show room were flyers for the official DVD release of the Edison Frankenstein film.  It was paired with the 1922 film Nosferatu and called “Movies First Monsters: Back to Back,” and the dvd was $20.00. I rushed to the booth that was said to have had it, and to my shock and horror, it was sold out.  The DVD was so in demand that it was gone the first day of sales. I was so bummed, and Andy tried to keep my spirits up saying that we would be back next year and that I could try and get one then.  While his words were wise and true, I still went home DVDless. By the next Cinema Wasteland, I rushed to the booth and got a copy the first day and felt like I was on top of the world. When I got home, the 16 minute film was the first thing I watched and I loved it.  In fact, I rushed and did a review for Bloodline Video and gave it 5 out of 5 stars on the site! This is one of those films that makes you truly glad that some private collector found it and released it so the masses can enjoy a piece of horror film history. If you have not seen it and are a film buff and a horror film fan, then do yourself a favor and watch it.

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The people behind the ownership of this film had an amazing idea when they turned the 16 minute film into a 40 page comic book that holds the thrills and chills of the movie. Remember I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So let’s get the chemical vat ready and build ourselves a comic review of Edison’s Frankenstein 1910.  

Edisons Frankenstein 1910 Comic

Edison’s Frankenstein 1910   ***1/2
Released in 2003   Cover Price $7.95   Comic Library International   #1 of 1

Frankenstein is sitting in his study writing in his journal to his future children so that they can learn from his mistake.  You see, in his youth he wanted to learn the secrets of life and death and while away at medical school he grows tired of what he thinks is just close minded teaching and decides to drop out and conduct his own experiment to create the perfect human. In his quest to make a man, he takes elements from science, black magic, alchemy and even his own flesh and blood and mixes them in a chemical vat and watches in horror as his man comes to life.  But instead of a perfect man, he has made a monster, a twisted foul thing that looks straight from the pits of hell! The Monster’s sight tormented Frankenstein who was set to be married to his true love Elizabeth.  Even this joy is being taken away as The Monster wants his soon to be wife for his own.  When Frankenstein refuses and lies to The Monster, it goes in a rage and attacks its creator! The only thing that saves him is when the Monster gets a look at himself in the mirror and its own sight saddens it and causes him to flee into the night. The Monster returns on Frankenstein’s wedding night and attacks his bride Elizabeth.  This causes a huge fight between the Monster and its creator that leaves The Monster trapped inside a mirror and Frankenstein begging for forgiveness from God, his wife and The Monster! In the end Frankenstein lives happily with his wife, and The Monster is nothing now but a terrible memory.

This comic is pretty much just a more detailed version of the film and is what a comic adaptation should be! The film is told via the words of Frankenstein’s diary and this helps preserve the silent film feel and helps add to the raw emotion of his horrific experience. Victor Frankenstein is a likable guy in this comic, and while at one point his ego to create man takes over his soul, it’s the fact he knows he did wrong and wants to fix it when he see’s the terrible monster he has made. The Monster is a mean spirited evil twisted person who loves to frighten and push around Frankenstein because he can. The fact that The Monster wants to take and do foul things to Frankenstein’s wife shows just how untrustworthy this “man” is. The symbolism of the Monster being trapped in the mirror, and Victor looking at his own reflection and seeing the Monster is a nice way to show that we all have a monster in us and only when we take notice of this will we learn to control it. The comic is 40 pages long, and the rest of the issue is filled with some bios of those involved in making the film as well as the comic. The art of Robb Bihun is simply amazing and his drawings of The Monster are top notch horror comic stuff.  In fact, his style reminds me slightly of the artwork of Bernie Wrightson who did top notch Frankenstein art in 1983. This is a great read, and I would recommend it to those who love Frankenstein and his Monster.  I would also suggest giving it a read while you listen to the score done by Life Toward Twilight! 

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I have loved the story and films based on The Frankenstein Monster for as long as I can remember and reading this well made comic was one of the highlights of doing this blog so far.  That is why the next update is going to be another A-Lister as I take a look at the one and only Return Of The Werewolf two issue comic series based on the Paul Naschy werewolf films! You long time readers will remember that I talked about this comic during the Dark Horse Pumpkinhead comic review, and thanks to some friends, I was able to get my hands on copies and will take a look not only at the comics but also the films that inspired the comic…so be here next update for a howling good time! Until then don’t create a monster and don’t go out in a full moon, and enjoy an episode of your local horror host and read a comic or three!

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