Sunday, January 30, 2011

Retro-Review: Frankenstein #1, Part 2!

frankenstein01_09Next up in this issue, it's Frankenstein in “The Ghouls and Vampires” by Briefer! There's a lovely splash page (it would make a great poster) featuring Frankenstein playing cards (tho what game it is I can't figure out from here, given he's holding six cards and drawing a seventh) and looking askance at what is either a vampire or a ghoul (not sure which) who's trying to advise him what to do, and meanwhile, another ghoul (dressed in top hat and cape) and a vampiress both look happy (even though they have crap for hands, so far as I can tell). The game, naturally, is played on a casket with a few spiders crawling about!

frankenstein01_10The story opens at the town of Mippyville, where the setting sun sets the citizens all a-flutter to get home! Well, all but the town bum, anyway. At night, apparently monsters roam about until the dawn, when the people of Mippyville discover that once again, the graves have been robbed of their bodies! And even worse, the town bum has been killed by a vampire! The mayor unhappily reports that he's found no way of dealing with the monsters, but suddenly, a ghoul approaches the mayor with a suggestion! Yes, he's a ghoul, but since he's a vegetarian, he's ostracized by his own “people”! The ghoul suggests that the mayor send for Frankenstein, which he agrees to. Soon, the ghoul puts signs all over Mippyville proclaiming that “Frankie is Coming to Mippyville!!!” Seems he can't figure out how to spell “Frankenstein.”

Well, Frankenstein gets the mayor's letter, and he's quite honored by the request, planning to leave as soon as his clothes are dry (they're hanging on a line). To his dismay, his clothes have shrunk to half their size! So, since his clothes don't fit him, he'll fit into the clothes, by preparing a special reducing potion comprised of certain roots and shrubs, as well as a dozen spider eyes! He drinks it down and it works immediately! But he does observe that he should wear a shirt and tie. Back at Mippyville, two teenage girls run into each other, one of whom is carrying a new record with her (not the record in the sleeve, just the record itself). She always carries it with her, because even though she can't hear it, it's his voice Suddenly, she screams and faints, because she's seen the sign saying “Frankie is coming to Mippyville,” and she immediately assumes that it's referring to Frankie Singatra! This news causes her friend to also pass out. They go to the mayor, who says that it's true... “ 'Frankie' as you call him is coming here – to get rid of the ghouls and vampires.” One of the girl responds with “He'll croon to them and they'll just die!” while the other suggests they welcome him at the station... which they do, with apparently every other teenage girl in town! The train soon arrives, and the thinned out Frankenstein emerges, “happy and gay – singing a tune in his cracked, croaking voice.” I'm sure you can figure out what happens next, eh?

frankenstein01_11Yes, the reducing formula, plus the shirt and tie, makes him the double of Frankie Singatra (his nose has even moved down to between his eyes, for a change). Of course, all the bobby soxers faint at the sight of him, blocking the train track. A panel helpfully notes, “But to this day no one knows whether the coma was caused by their believing the visitor to be their idol Frankie Singatra, or their recognizing the emaciated monster Frankenstein. In either case, “Frankie” was a horrid, pathetic, ghastly sight.” Later, at the mayor's office, Frankenstein is fed until he regains his normal size, and he meets with the vegetarian ghoul, who tells him to go to the old grotto behind the cemetery. At the cemetery, the ghouls and goblins are getting ready to go out for the night, although three of them are busy playing a game at the table (the name of which escapes me, but is similar to dominoes). One of the newer vampires is warned to stay away from garlic. Frankenstein approaches the grotto, but before he enters it, he has a thought...

Yes, he had to eat that last sandwich! Anyone care to guess what might be in it? Anyway, he enters the grotto and says very politely that it is his duty to get ride of them, and asks them why they're doing it in the first place (the response is they lost all their red ration points). Frankenstein walks closer to them, and then he suddenly burps! His breath causes the ghouls and vampires to flee the grotto, and they evaporate as they leave! The mayor asks him how he did it, and Frankenstein says, “It was simple.” But I'm sure you can guess what really happened...

Well, he didn't know it, but we certainly knew that the sandwich had to have contained plenty of garlic! Still, even though the ending was rather obvious, it's still satisfying (at least, to me). Now, this is a classic story! Let's break it down, shall we?

Page 1 – Splash page, which has nothing to do with the story itself, but is still fun.
Page 2 – We learn about the troubles in Mippyville
Page 3 – A solution to the problem is found, and we even get the pleasure of meeting an outcast ghoul, plus there's the set-up to the first major gag
Page 4 – Nearly the full page is spent getting Frankenstein into the situation for the big gag
Page 5 – More set-up for the gag, with some fair ribbing of fans of the real Frank Sinatra
Page 6 – The punchline for the big gag, which doesn't really have anything to do with the story, before Frankenstein is back to normal
Page 7 – Frankenstein heads to the grotto, eating his sandwich to set up the final gag
Page 8 – The confrontation with the ghouls and vampires, with the garlic burp!
Page 9 – The final page of the story, explaining how he got rid of them!

Now, I have just two little tiny nitpicks with this tale... the first is, the gag is kind of spoiled on Frankenstein being mistaken for Frankie Singatra because the revealing panel was pretty much in the middle of the page. Ideally, that panel should've been the first panel of a left-hand page, so as not to spoil it. The second nitpick is... where did Frankenstein get the new clothes in his size?

It has occurred to me as I read this that the humorous version of Frankenstein would probably make a hilarious series of animated shorts!

A two-page text feature follows, “A Bat in the Belfry,” by Bruce Elliott. As with the previous filler, my eBook doesn't include this!

Next: “Frankenstein's Wife”!

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