Frankenstein in Culture
In this section, you will find resources detailing the various cultural remediations of Shelley’s Frankenstein. From near-contemporary to very recent allusions and adaptations, it is clear that Shelley’s Frankenstein lives on in our art and media.
Frankenstein: The First Two Hundred Years, Christopher Wrayling (Reel Art Press, 2017).
A good overview of Frankenstein in culture. “This book, celebrating the 200th birthday of Frankenstein, traces the journey of Shelley’s Frankenstein from limited-edition literature into the bloodstream of contemporary culture. With text by renowned Gothic scholar Sir Christopher Frayling, it includes new research on the novel’s origins; a facsimile reprint of the earliest-known manuscript version of the creation scene; visual material on adaptations for the stage, in magazines, on playbills, in prints and in book publications of the 19th century; visual essays on many of the film versions and their inspirations in the history of art; and Frankenstein in popular culture―on posters, advertisements, packaging, in comics and graphic novels.”
Henry R. Robinson, “A Galvanized Corpse” (1836).
Robinson’s cartoon dramatizes the reanimation of a corpse using Galvani’s bioelectrical methods.
John Tenniel, “The Brummagem Frankenstein” (1866).
This political cartoon, first published in Punch magazine, depicts a diminutive John Bright supporting suffrage while attempting to avoid the massive figure of the working man.
John Tenniel, “The Irish Frankenstein” (1882).
In the cartoon, Irish nationalist, Charles Stewart Parnell cowers before a Frankensteinian monster that represents the Fenian movement.
Clifford K. Berryman, “Are We Frankensteins?” (1940).
In Berryman’s cartoon, Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin look on as a monstrous Hitler destroys the world. (Note: large image not available except at the Library of Congress due to copyright restrictions.)
Frankenstein: Alive, Alive! (IDW 2014). Steve Niles (writer) and Bernie Wrightson (illustrator).
Niles and Wrightson bring Shelley’s novel to life in a beautifully rendered and introspective adaptation. Illustrated in black & white, and includes “close-ups” of Wrightson’s imaginative handiwork. Excerpts from Shelley’s novel also included.
Destroyer. Boom! Victor Lavalle (writer), Dietrich Smith (artist), Micaela Dawn (color artist).
“When the last descendant of the Frankenstein family loses her only son to a police shooting, she turns to science for her own justice…putting her on a crash course with her family’s original monster and his quest to eliminate humanity. An intense, unflinching story exploring the legacies of love, loss, and vengeance placed firmly in the tense atmosphere and current events of the modern-day United States.”
Frankenstein Underground (Dark Horse 2015). Story by Mike Mignola.
This Dark Horse book features Frankenstein’s monster in an altogether new adventure. On the run from the Marquis Adoet de Fabre, a collector of strange creatures, Frankenstein’s monster descends to the center of the earth where he encounters an underground cult. Features an encounter with the comic world’s favorite demon, Hellboy.
Frankenstein (DC Comics 2006). Doug Mahnke.
D.C. comics pushes the boundaries of adaptation with Doug Mahnke’s Frankenstein as part of the “Seven Soldiers” series (note the misnaming of Frankenstein’s creature). This steampunk patchwork creature re-awakens in the twentieth century to save humankind from Melmoth and his evil ilk.
Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (Super Human Advanced Defense Executive). Jeff Lemire (writer).
Includes a Frankenstein typeface and allusions to Milton and Keats. A less thoughtful adaptation, but much fun. Written by award-winning graphic novelist Jeff Lemire.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Tops Comics).
An adaptation of an adaptation of an adaptation! Tops Comics’ is a reproduction of the Kenneth Branagh film Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Of note are the Robert de Niro look-alike monster and trading cards featuring movie stills. Also includes a three-part essay in the back, “Inside Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” by Gary Gerani.
Frankenstein Mobster (Image 2003). Mark Wheatley (writer).
This Dick Tracy throwback is full of tough guys, cops, and . . . goblins.
Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus (Caliber 1994). Eric Jackson (writer).
This work remains faithful to Shelley’s original narrative. Abridged to fit a single volume, the combination of images with the entire story makes Jackson’s edition a useful teaching tool.
Frankenstein 200 (2016). ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, NSF.
The transmedia Alternate Reality Game (ARG) Frankenstein200 puts players in the middle of the action in a story where Mary Shelley’s classic tale collides with modern science. Perform experiments, explore hidden areas of research, and assist a pair of young scientists as they unravel a mystery in a cutting-edge digital experience.
Frankenstein’s Monster (1983). Designed for Atari 2600.
Make your way through the ghoulish castle of Dr Frankenstein where you must prevent Victor from completing his creation.
Frankenstein (1987). Released for the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, and ZX Spectrum home computers.
A standard text adventure with static graphics. In the first two parts of the game, the player takes the role of Dr. Frankenstein who must find and destroy his murderous, escaped monster. In the third part of the game, the player is the monster who must remain free and learn the reason for its existence.
Frankenstein: The Monster Returns (1990). Designed for NES.
Set some time after the Frankenstein story, the player is a young swordsman who is determined to stop a supernatural army which the monster has raised.
Dr Franken (1992). Released for Gameboy and Super NES.
Follow Frankenstein’s monster (Franky) on a mission to collect the scattered body parts of his girlfriend (Bitsy) and resurrect her to life
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994). Created for Super Nintendo, Sega, and Sega Genesis.
Control Frankenstein’s monster as he stomps through the streets of Ingolstadt and Bavaria seeking revenge against Victor.
Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster (1995). Created for the PC and Sega Saturn.
A point and click adventure game with Tim Curry starring as Dr Frankenstein. The game utilises full-motion video clips and is based upon situations in which the player’s actions decide the fate of certain characters. Such decisions branch the game out into multiple endings.
Presumption; or the Fate of Frankenstein (1823).
A three act play by Richard Brinsley Peake, containing songs, pantomime, and spectacle. This is a Romantic Circles digital edition of the drama, edited by Stephen C. Behrendt. Peake’s adaptation of the novel portrays the story of Frankenstein as he creates a mute blue-skinned Creature known as the Hobgoblin.
Frankenstein, or The Vampire’s Victim (1887).
Joined at the Heart (2007).
A musical with music and lyrics by Graham Brown and Geoff Meads, directed by Frances Brownlie. The show tells the love story between Victor and Elizabeth.
Young Frankenstein: A Musical (2007).
A musical by Mel Brooks based upon a book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan and on Brooks’s 1974 movie of the same name. The show is a parody of the horror film genre.
Frankenstein: A New Musical (2007).
A musical with music by Mark Baron, lyrics by Jeffrey Jackson, and a book by Jackson and Gary P. Cohen. Frankenstein’s creature takes revenge on Victor’s family after being rejected by his creator.
A Royal National Theatre Production, directed by Danny Boyle and starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller who alternate between performing the roles of creature and creator throughout the play. A performance was broadcast live across cinemas throughout the world as part of the National Theatre Live initiative.
Romantic Circles, “Responses to and Adaptations of Frankenstein in Film and Elsewhere”
A 1999 list compiled by scholars of some of the many film adaptations of the novel.
Searle Dawley offered the first film adaptation of Shelley’s famous novel using the Edison Kinetogram.
James Whale directed the still iconic adaptation of Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff as the monster.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Elsa Lanchester stars as the bride of Victor’s monster, reprised by Boris Karloff, in James Whale’s sequel to the 1931 film.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
In Charles Barton’s adaptation, the famous comedy duo Abbott and Costello play baggage handlers who encounter Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein’s monster.
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Mel Brooks offered a comedic spoof of the 1931 movie, with Gene Wilder playing the lead role as Victor von Frankenstein’s grandson, Frederick Frankenstein.
Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Jim Sharman’s musical adaptation stars Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter, a self-proclaimed transvestite from transsexual Transylvania who creates the Adonis-like monster Rocky.
Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation introduces several changes to the novel, including the creation of a female monster, played by Helena Bonham Carter. Branagh starred as Victor and Robert De Niro played opposite him as Victor’s monstrous creation.
Van Helsing (2004)
Hugh Jackman plays a monster hunter tracking Count Dracula, who is using Dr. Frankenstein’s research for evil ends in Stephen Sommers’s screenplay.
Tim Burton’s stop motion film reimagines Shelley’s novel, portraying a young Victor attempting to bring back his beloved dead dog, Sparky.
Victor Frankenstein (2015)
Daniel Radcliffe plays Igor, a young man who is rescued by and later befriends Victor Frankenstein, played by James McAvoy. Together the two work toward creating a monstrous creation.