suddenly mary

by Jesse Marinoff Reyes:

MONSTER UNLEASHED: Happy Birthday Mary Shelley 1797-1851

—Boris Karloff: The Frankenscience Monster
Ace, 1969
Illustration: Verne Tossey (1920-2002)
Forrest J. Ackerman was, of course, the founding editor—with publisher Jim Warren—of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. Frankenscience Monster was published as an homage to Karloff, who had passed away earlier that year.—

It was a “wet, ungenial summer” in Switzerland when Mary Godwin (traveling as “Mrs. Shelley”) went to Lake Geneva with Percy Bysshe Shelley and their son, and Claire Clairmont to spend that summer with Lord Byron, who brought along his physician John William Polidori. However, as the days progressed, and the rains made their retreat rather confining—often for days on end—instead of frolicking it was conversation that ruled the day and evenings.

Time/Life, March 15, 1968 issue
Photograph: Dmitri Kessel
Art Director: Bernard Quint
Boris Karloff appears for the celebration of Shelley’s novel’s then-150th anniversary.—

They talked about the work of the 18th century natural philosopher (and poet) Erasmus Darwin—who was said to have animated dead matter; and of galvanism (named for the scientist Luigi Galvani who investigated the effect of electricity on dissected animals, using electric current to stimulate muscle movement); and whether it was feasible to reanimate corpses. Sitting around a log fire they read ghost stories (German ghost stories!) to presumably, freak each other out, prompting Lord Byron to suggest that they each write their own supernatural tale…!

—Frankenstein, 1931
USA film/USA poster
Directed by James Whale for Universal Studios. Called a six-sheet. This poster is extremely rare and the only known copy exists in a private collection. This is supposedly the most valuable poster in the world according to the Internet Movie Database (estimated value, $600,000).—

Mary Shelley began what she thought would be a short story, just a bit of fun. But with Percy Shelley’s encouragement she fleshed it out into a full-blown novel. That summer, as dramatized in the prologue to James Whale’s film Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Ken Russell’s film Gothic (1986) the still teen-aged Shelley wrote “I stepped out from childhood into life.” She also stepped into the ages with Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.

—Frankenstein, 1932
USA film/French poster
Poster art by Jacques Faria (1898-1956)
Directed by James Whale for Universal Studios. Whereas American film poster art would generally be anonymous regardless of their beauty and craftsmanship, in France the studios hired name-brand illustrators or poster artists who would not only be credited but also be able to sign their work.
Frankenstein opened in France in March of 1932.—


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