EXCLUSIVE: Last year marked the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein but the bookshelf classic isn’t gathering any dust. CBS has just ordered a primetime pilot for Frankenstein from Elementary creator Rob Doherty that is set in present-day San Francisco and features a back-from-the-dead cop as the reanimated protagonist. That comes three years after Fox attempted their own updating effort with Second Chance (which, oddly, also centered on a California lawman who doesn’t stay dead) and just eight months after the opening weekend of Mary Shelley, the IFC Films release that starred Elle Fanning.
The 19th century novelist and her timeless novel will be back in the spotlight again in April when the inaugural issue of Mary Shelley, Monster Hunter, a new monthly series from AfterShock Comics, hits store shelves. Today we bring Deadline readers a special preview with an exclusive excerpt (found below) from the first issue. The series presents a question: Shelley made history with her fiction, but what if it turned out that her fiction was in fact made by history? When the late author’s secret journals are discovered their contents reveal her secret exploits as a 19th Century action hero in pursuit of a strange creature — a creature that would inspire her inventive 1818 debut novel, Frankenstein; A Modern Day Prometheus.
Mary Shelley, Monster Hunter is the work of writers Adam Glass and Olivia Cuartero-Briggs and artist Hayden Sherman. For Glass, a veteran writer for television (Supernatural, Criminal Minds), said one key early element to the project was deciding what its Frankenstein’s monster would look like. Shelley’s descriptions of the creature are vivid but they aren’t the definitive image of the creature — it’s the Hollywood portrayal by Boris Karloff in the 1930s Universal films that is most deeply entrenched in the public imagination. Karloff, who died 50 years ago this month at age 81, truly created a monster success that lives on.
“Karloff’s Frankenstein is definitely the most iconic and usually considered the first [screen] interpretation of Mary Shelley’s work — though a recently found silent Frankenstein film was unearthed,” Glass said. “You can watch it online it’s pretty cool and the monster looks nothing like Karloff’s version. Mary Shelley’s ‘monster’ is open to interpretation because it is the thing of nightmares. Olivia, Hayden and I saw this as an opportunity more than a challenge. A chance to bring the Frankenstein monster to a younger, modern audience who might have never seen the classic film, but even more importantly allowing Mary to be the heroine of her own story.”
Co-writer Cuartero-Briggs delved into the life and times of Shelley, who was just 20 when her groundbreaking novel was published. She found the research to be a riveting journey and its subject to be even more compelling.
“Mary Shelley’s life was very unusual for an early 19th century woman, so there were many details I found fascinating, but one I found particularly inspiring was her strength,” Cuartero-Briggs said. “Mary Shelley suffered the kind of loss you only read about in the saddest of gothic novels, and yet, she never gave up. Frankenstein was a huge hit in her lifetime. Mary even attended a theatrical performance inspired by her work, and yet she hardly made any money at all from its publication. Still, she wrote subsequent novels, hustled for editorial work, and raised her son on her own. She even curated a collection of her late husband’s poetry and had it published against his family’s wishes, which cost her dearly, but is why Percy Shelley is still known today.”
Cuartero-Briggs said shaping Shelley into an action hero didn’t require any major change to the temperament or courage found in the real-life version. “She took bold, brave chances, and despite blow after blow, kept her head high and fought for what she believed in. She is a reminder of the strength of an artist, and the importance of pioneering women who aren’t afraid to break the rules.”