Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.
Paint Me the Story of Frankenstein
Authors: Dennis Green (text) and Derek Fox (art)
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlop
The Cover Promises: “A book to scare you out of your wits! And who paints the pictures? YOU!”
Or: Oddly bossy kids-book fun in the tradition of “Dance Me the Tale of Paul Bunyan” and “Pee Me in the Snow the Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Discovered at: Used book store
Either a dream-along treat for imaginative kids or some cynical feat of art-job outsourcing, Dennis Green and Derek Fox’s Paint Me the Story of Frankenstein insists that readers participate in a mad scientist’s act of unholy creation. The book’s shoddiness notwithstanding, that’s kind of cool, and your Crap Archivist supports the authors’ decision to force kids’ imaginative participation in Mary Shelley’s story through painting rather than corpse-exhuming.
Green and Fox hew closely to Shelley’s original. As always, Dr. Frankenstein quickly learns the first lesson of R&D: When crafting an abomination before God, manage expectations, even in the prototype stage.
NOTE: this scene takes place not long after Dr. Frankenstein quit The Guess Who.
Green and Fox wisely omit Igor, “It’s alive!’ and musical numbers. (That said, I do look forward to the upcoming Broadway adaptation, Paint Me, Frank!) But here’s one innovation.
Their doctor dreams of fashioning his creature out of Chex cereal and Archie Andrews’ hair.
Also unlike Shelley’s book, this one contains four sheets of just-add-water paints.
This addition would later inspire artist Gerhard Richter.
The monster escapes, and Dr. Frankenstein broods, dreaming of his creation. Notice his over-sized hand, a recurring motif of Fox’s.
The fact that Dr. Frankenstein’s hand is larger than his brain suggests that what mankind is capable of building — his handiwork, if you will — is more powerful even than what he understands.
And here, an over-sized hand suggests that the monster believes his team is #1.
At this point in the story, the monster has murdered Elizabeth, the love of Dr. Frankenstein’s life. The doctor has retaliated by crushing Sonic the Hedgehog in his fist.
The monster rages!
And Tom Petty escapes!
Here’s a lively scene.
The monster moves in for a kiss. An old man pledges allegiance. On the ground, a rose sprouts from a cabbage.
The tale ends with this chilling image. Beneath cold stars and an indifferent universe, the man who became god at last extinguishes the life he sparked . . .
. . . this time, dolled up as a prim Rockette.
Be sure to join us next Thursday as Studies in Crap examines classics like “Scrapbook Me the 1,001 Nights”, “Macrame Me That Scooby Doo With the Harlem Globetrotters” and “Play-Doh Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”!
[The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice‘s sister paper, The Pitch.]
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 29, 2009