Frankenstein: A Classic Pop-Up Tale

It’s hard to know quite what to make of this book. As the title states, this is a retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic horror tale in a hybrid graphic novel / pop-up book form. It’s tempting to compare this mash-up of formats to the titular monster itself, as it combines its constituent parts from various traditions and sources into a unique and misunderstood whole.

Perhaps such a comparison is unfair, as this is essentially a pop-up book; the design and engineering of the pop-ups is impressive, adding a dramatic flair to the storytelling, which retains the atmosphere and baroque language of Shelley’s original. Some spreads need to be placed on a table and viewed from all angles to be appreciated fully. The artwork is slick and contemporary, having all the stylistic elements of modern super-hero-comic illustration.

The book falls down in its narrative. We are treated to a superficial and compressed version of the story, zooming in on specific dramatic events and then condensing large sections into a few panels of art at a time.

I can’t see this book giving long-term satisfaction to readers of either graphic novels or classic horror, but that’s hardly the point. All readers will revel in the ingenuity of the pop-ups and younger readers are given a very accessible introduction to a piece of classic literature, which is no bad thing in itself.