6/3/10

Dick Briefer's Frankenstein #9

Dick Briefer's Frankenstein comic has an odd history. It originally started in Prize Comics #7 (1940) as "America's first ongoing comic book series to fall squarely within the horror genre." (Don Markstein). But in 1945 the series was moved to a comic of its own, Frankenstein also by Prize Publishing, and Briefer turned him into a comical but eerie lunk, sort of a precursor to Herman Munster.

As Wikipedia says: "like many returning veterans, Frankenstein settled into small-town life, becoming a genial neighbor who began having delightful adventures with Dracula, the Wolfman and other horrific creatures."

It's hard to understand what made Briefer turn to humor, maybe a desire to lighten up after the oppression of WWII, but the humorous Frankenstein ran until issue #18 in 1952, when it reverted to the original horror format. That only lasted two more years, probably folding due to the unpleasant spotlight shed on horror comics by Frederic Wertham and his book "Seduction of the Innocent."

In Frankenstein #9 from 1947 several of the stories center around the housing shortage, which many of the veterans experienced after World War II. The first story, "Frankenstein and the Invisible Wall," begins with the witch Sessy Poole challenging Frankenstein and Bilge Wauta to a contest. Whoever enters a house first will win the house. "If you were to buy this same house today the price, tremendously inflated, would be $420," she explains. The two contestants run for the house only to discover it's surrounded by an invisible wall. Bilge Wauta stalks off to figure out how to break through the invisible wall, while Frankenstein continues to try to go over, under, or through. Meanwhile Sessy Poole makes a prediction about the winner.

Frankenstein is about to give up when two delivery men show up. They can pass through the invisible wall without any problems. Confused, Frankie heads home... The story takes an odd jump at this point, starting with the caption "Two years later Frankenstein tells the story to Veronica Honika." You can read the rest for yourself.

When I first read this story as a kid I assumed Bilge Wauta was a recurring character in the Frankenstein stable. Seeing it as an adult I get a different perspective. In any case, Briefer does a good job of making the story humorous while also retaining some eerie aspects of the Frankenstein world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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