Graphic Novel Review: JOE FRANKENSTEIN Is a Monster Kid’s Dream Come True

An old-school comic fantasy about a boy and his monster.


ANY BOY OR GIRL who grew up a Frankenstein fan probably fantasized about how cool it would be to have the Monster for a friend. Or maybe a protector. No other monster seemed as well-fitted to the task. I dreamed about stuff like that myself as a monster kid back in the day, and I’m willing to bet that co-authors Graham Nolan and Chuck Dixon did as well, because a few years ago they took that idea and ran with it for a special 3-issue comic book series they called Joe Frankenstein.

Nolan did the artwork as well, with a big assist from colorist Gregory Wright, and the result is nothing short of an old school action-horror-adventure that puts a neat fantasy spin on a time-honored tale.

The series has since been re-published as a beautiful hardcover collected edition from IDW (below), featuring ten new pages of backstory set around the time of the Monster’s creation.

Cover of the 2015 collected edition.

WITHOUT GIVING too much away, the story is set in the modern world, where a foster kid named Joe Pratt discovers that he is actually the last remaining heir to the Frankenstein name, and as such, has unknowingly spent his entire life under the discreet protection of Frankenstein’s Monster. Protection from what, you ask? An army of vampires, for one, and also the Monster’s Bride, who’s got nefarious plans for Joe’s blood—every drop of it—and will stop at nothing to obtain what she wants.

You can tell that Nolan and Dixon are well-schooled in the Universal Monster movies that made Frankenstein’s Monster an icon. While this story is original, the book is sprinkled generously with verbal and visual cues that call back to the films. You’ll note, for example, that the Monster is almost always seen wearing a sporty vest, in homage to the furry one he wore in Son of Frankenstein.  And more discerning readers will even pick-up on a clever reference to Marty Feldman’s character in Young Frankenstein. That’s what’s so fun about this project overall. It was clearly a labor of love on the part of its creators, and it’s just waiting to be discovered by monster kids young an old.

The book is available in both hardcover and digital formats.

The Monster and his young charge, Joe, contend with a horde of vampires as the villainous Bride looks on.


Stephen Vincent D’Emidio is the editor and publisher of Wonder Alliance.

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