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I love Frankenstein. Always have, always will. For me, that love extends beyond its original incarnation in Mary Shelley’s novel into the many permutations in popular culture over the decades. Be it the movies, comic books, or just bizarre cross osmosis—there is something about the story that always resonates and builds upon itself. Whether the presentation of “The Monster” was scary and serious, or goofy and dumb, as with the 1950s comic series by one of my all-time favorite artist, Dick Breifer, there is that original spark that comes through. I had even started my own take on the Monster in graphic novel form some years back, but unfortunately other projects took priority. When The Bakken Museum asked whether I would be interested in working on the Mary and Her Monster exhibition, I jumped at the opportunity: I have been a fan of The Bakken for some years and I loved being part of this project.
Illustrations for Mary and Her Monster
The most important aspect when approaching the work for this project was to hit the right “note” with the drawings and presentation. Given the many forms the creature has taken over the years, the primary idea was to be faithful to Mary Shelley’s text and create an engaging and interactive installation that would appeal to all ages. And even though everybody loves the bolts on the sides of the monster’s neck, this feature does not appear in Shelley’s book and was, therefore, left out. While work on the puppet theater mainly involved character design choices and composing the different backdrops, the pieces for the comic book puzzle were more challenging. The blue and black color scheme, instead of a full color treatment, was chosen to evoke a feeling of being trapped in time. This meant using a technique whereby each puzzle piece had to be drawn individually and in multiple layers. A computer can be used to do this much quicker, but for this project every layer was done on separate sheets of paper.
Zak Sally is a writer, musician, educator, publisher, illustrator, and cartoonist. He has operated his own “micro press,” La Mano 21, since 2005. Sally has published his own works and those of other artists from the US. He received two Eisner Award Nominations for Recidivist Vol. 3 in 2005. Sally is currently working on a comic book biography of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, as well as a prose “memoir” of his early twenties entitled Folrath, both of which will be published in 2017. Sally lives and works in Minneapolis.