July 24, 2008

The Covers of Frankenstein: The Frankenstein Dracula War No.1

Two classic monsters strike poses on a Mike Mignola cover for The Frankenstein Dracula War No.1, published by Topps Comics in 1995.

The title, a three-issue miniseries, was inspired by the company’s recent comic book adaptations of two Francis Ford Coppola productions, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994). Focusing on public domain characters allowed Topps to exploit the monster franchise unburdened by licensing fees.

The story, devised by Roy Thomas with an assist by Jean-Marc Lofficier, has the Frankenstein Monster, a literate giant close to the original Mary Shelley concept, forced by the alchemist Count Saint-Germain to seek out Dracula and bring back the vampire’s heart. It’s a terse, curiously cruel tale. The inside art, penciled by Claude St-Aubin, is workmanlike, but the best thing about this series is the striking cover treatment, by Mike Mignola.

Mignola was then just getting started on his own creation, Hellboy, fated for success. As a cover artist, he was already a master, displaying a designer’s eye for dynamic compositions done in a distinctive, razor-sharp, chiaroscuro style. Notice the tension created by the wooden spikes and the generous use of blacks. 

Mignola’s details are always telling. His Frankenstein Monster, much more striking than the one portrayed within the book, wears a torn cape, a rope belt and a chain, indicative of his rough life. Falling leaves and accessory skulls provide a graveyard ambiance.
The second issue’s cover featured languorous vampire brides under a stark moon, one of them holding a nail-studded skull. Issue number 3 shows the monsters’ climactic confrontation, attended by a flock of bats and The Monster’s murdered friend, Irena.

You could fill a book with a collection of Mike Mignola’s brilliant comic book covers. In fact, I wish someone did!


Danél Griffin said...

I actually enjoyed the series, especially the huge battle in the end that explains Castle Dracula's ruins. Stoker, of course, had the Count explain it as an earthquake. Perhaps, if by earthquake he means a collossal battle between the Count and the Monster.

Incidently, are you familiar with the book "Frankenstein Resurrected" by Joseph Covino? I'm working my way through it now, and it's probably the best blending of the Frankenstein/Dracula mythologies that I'm currently aware of.

Justin M... said...

I also own this entire series. Being a Topps series it was a bit hard to track down, I found the first two issues at a local comic book store and then spent several years searching other stores and conventions before I finally just decided to ordered the last issue off eBay. As a huge fan of Mike Mignola it was his covers that attracted my attention to this series in the first place. I was a bit disappointed that he didn’t do the interior art like on Topp’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula series, but thought that it was still good and was impressed by writer Roy Thomas and artist Claude St-Aubin’s attention to detail in painting accurate portraits of both Stoker’s Dracula and Shelly’s Monster. Dracula’s off handed reference to the Golem was nice as well. Topps was a great publishing company back in the day producing not only great Dracula and Frankenstein books but comics for both Jurassic Park and The X-Files as well.

rob! said...

niiiiiiifty covers.

Dave said...

Nice covers. Thanks.

They bring to mind this LP:

Dracula, Wolfman And Frankesntein".


kindertrauma said...

Love Mignola, these covers are amazing.