Back in the Golden Age, many (if not most) comic book cartoonists had a “Bigfoot” as well as a more serious style depending on the assignment. Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein exemplifies that practice. This is the latest in Yoe Books’ (an imprint of IDW) wonderful collections edited by Craig Yoe. Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein started out as a modern update of Mary Shelley’s classic as part of the anthology title Prize Comics in in 1940. When the character was granted its own series in 1945, it became a humor feature and was given a new origin. The title lasted 17 issues before it was cancelled. Then, in 1952, jumping on the horror comics bandwagon, Frankenstein was brought back to life as a horror title from issues #18-33.
The first incarnation was set in present day America and was drawn in a style similar to that of Classics Illustrated. The collection contains only the first three stories from Prize Comics (#7-9), and I would have liked to have seen more. The features continued directly from issue to issue, serial fashion. The second incarnation presents a random sampling of humor stories and is drawn in a style reminiscent of Harvey Kurtzman’s. The “horror” version reprints stories from issues #20, 24, 28 and 31, with the last one in particular evocative of the style and to0ne of EC comics.
The packaging itself is very attractive, with die-cut hole cut in the cover featuring the “classic” monster, allowing the eyes of the “funny” monster to show through. It makes for a creepy effect which I was not allowed to leave sitting out because it upset my wife. The introduction by Craig Yoe presents an overview of all of Briefer’s Frankenstein work, supplemented by many illustrations including painted cover reproductions by Briefer from the collection of Don Glut.
This book is #1 in The Chilling Arhives of Horror Comics and the title page promises “future volumes of Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein and The Chilling Arhives of Horror Comics are planned.” I hope so, because I would like to see more of all three versions.