Today we begin a “Three Faces Of Frankenstein” theme week featuring three very different incarnations of Dick Briefer’s legendary take on the Frankenstein monster.
When the Creature debuted in Prize Comics #7 (Crestwood Publications, December 1940), he was portrayed as a rampaging monster that hated mankind with every fibre of its being. The premise remained intact until Prize Comics #24 (Crestwood, October 1942), when Frankenstein’s primary antagonist – an adventurer named Denny “Bulldog” Dunsan – teamed up with the super-heroes that shared the comic with Briefer’s characters and captured the monster.
Frankenstein eventually reformed and even took on the Nazis but still succumbed to his darker impulses – a la the modern-day Hulk – from time to time.
After the war, Briefer transformed the “Frankenstein” strip into a humorous feature that is now regarded as one of the greatest features to emerge from comics’ Golden Age. Briefer’s big-foot art and dark, often surreal, humor distinguished this more genial Frankenstein from the usual comic-book monster and proved every bit as “adult” as Charles Addams’ more “respectable” Addams Family comics in New Yorker.
The second Frankenstein strip ran from 1945-49, but Briefer revived the character one final time from 1952-54 to capitalize on the horror comics craze. Portrayed once again as a raging monster, neither Briefer nor comics historians regard this incarnation as the equal of the previous two. The cartoonist even recycled some ideas from earlier stories. Still, Briefer’s skills as a storyteller didn’t vanish and this final Frankenstein definitely enjoyed some bone-chilling moments.
The following tale is one of the earliest appearances of Briefer’s Frankenstein, when no one could foresee that the creature would eventually become a genial and gentle suburbanite.
From Prize Comics #9 (Crestwood Publications, February 1941), here’s a story concerning Frankenstein’s brief brush with the criminal underworld as written and drawn by Briefer.