This is “Look Back,” a feature that I plan to do for at least all of 2019 and possibly beyond that (and possibly forget about in a week, who knows?). The concept is that every week (I’ll probably be skipping the four fifth weeks in the year, but maybe not) of a month, I will spotlight a single issue of a comic book that came out in the past and talk about that issue (often in terms of a larger scale, like the series overall, etc.). Each week will be a look at a comic book from a different year that came out the same month X amount of years ago. The first week of the month looks at a book that came out this month ten years ago. The second week looks at a book that came out this month 25 years ago. The third week looks at a book that came out this month 50 years ago. The fourth week looks at a book that came out this month 75 years ago. The occasional fifth week looks at books from 20/30/40/60/70/80 years ago.
Today, I go back to April 1945 for the dramatic tonal shift in Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein character in Frankenstein #1.
Briefer introduced his version of Frankenstein’s monster in Prize Comics #7 in 1940, with what was, for the most part, the first regular outright HORROR feature in comic books.
As you can see, Briefer really played up the grotesque features of his Frankenstein monster.
The creation quickly attacks its creator…
The monster then goes on a rampage (the story is set in 1930 for some reason), which leads to a confrontation between the scientist on the top of the Statue of Liberty. The monster isn’t messing around. Dude just chucks people out of the monument to their deaths!
He then rescues the scientist and when he gets home later, he wonders why the monster spared him and suddenly, the monster bursts in to tell him he did it so that he could make the scientist see all of the death and destruction that would be caused by his creation!
Damn, man, that is DARK!
Well, almost five years later, Briefer launched a Frankenstein ongoing series and this time, he dramatically revamped the monster so that now he was a humor character!
This time, he was created by an outright evil scientist, who created a monster specifically TO go on rampages and kill people!
However, Frankie turned out to be a sweet guy…
The scientist sent him out to go find him “souvenirs” of his rampages…
And Frankie returns with a baby lamb!
A fire breaks out, though, and while Frankie is saving the baby lamb, the laboratory explodes.
Frankie then becomes a general do-gooder. In a story later in that first issue, he goes on an extreme diet once his clothes shrink in the wash, and he is mistaken for Frank Sinatra!
Later, he gets rid of a bunch of vampires and it turns out that it comes from the garlic in his sandwich…
The humorous version of Frankenstein was a bigger hit than the horror version and it lasted until 1949. Briefer tried to go back to the horror basics in the 1950s, but the timing was, you know, not good with the Comics Code and all of that. Briefer got out of comics period.
If you folks have any suggestions for May (or any other later months) 2010, 1995, 1970 and 1945 comic books for me to spotlight, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org! Here is the guide, though, for the cover dates of books so that you can make suggestions for books that actually came out in the correct month. Generally speaking, the traditional amount of time between the cover date and the release date of a comic book throughout most of comic history has been two months (it was three months at times, but not during the times we’re discussing here). So the comic books will have a cover date that is two months ahead of the actual release date (so October for a book that came out in August). Obviously, it is easier to tell when a book from 10 years ago was released, since there was internet coverage of books back then.
In their feature looking back on comics from 10/25/50/75 years ago, CSBG spotlights the April 1945 humorous reboot of Frankenstein by Dick Briefer.