Saturday, June 30, 2007

Another Mary Shelley Monster

Here's an interesting bit of news, tangential to our monster topics.

James Arnett, an independent filmmaker in California, is finishing up a feature based on Mary Shelley's novel The Last Man. It's an apocalyptic story of pandemics and terror—couldn't be more timely, and apparently Arnett got that point. He brags that he's made one of the "biggest no-budget guerilla films ever made" in his blog for A.I.A. Productions.

He's got a website about the film as well. Images suggest that he's transposed Shelley's end-of-the-world times into our own, with visual references that can't be seen without comparing them to visions coming from our godforsaken military forces in Iraq.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Birthing My Monster

It has been a while since I posted anything. Time to bring you up to date on my own personal monster: the book coming out from W. W. Norton in October. I spent a couple of hours in the Norton labyrinth (read: New York offices) this week, getting the last images over to production, talking through some publicity ideas, and looking over the shoulder of the art director who is finalizing the cover design. The image you see to the right is an early version. The template remains, but cost and legalities and availability may mean that some of the nine patchwork quilt squares will be different from those shown here.

The book is on track for October publication. Anyone have a favorite bookstore that might host a signing? Be in touch via my website.

Meanwhile, the Young Frankenstein site keeps building. Now it's saying that Broadway tickets go on sale July 15.

See you there.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Line forming

Now there's a date, a theater, and a dedicated Young Frankenstein-goes-to-Broadway website. So far nothing there except an invitation to subscribe and a groovy lightning graphic, matching the Times Square preview poster.

November 8 is the stated opening night, with previews starting a month earlier. Hilton Theater, 213 W. 42.

All this follows the warm-up month in Seattle in August.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Go East, Young Monster

A new DVD release of the 1965 Japanese monster flick Frankenstein vs. Baragon (or whatever we want to call it—it goes by several names) gives blog critic Matt Paprocki the occasion to tell more about the film than many know.

I agree, Matt: the most interesting part of this low-budget extravaganza (if that's not an oxymoron) is the reference to Hiroshima and the bomb. Start with the excised heart of the monster, let it live through a nuclear conflagration, and it becomes an oversized, undercultured Caucasian monster.

The boy-monster, wearing a faux-fur tunic, grapples with a prehistoric reptilian. Both go down, only to rise again.

There are political innuendos here, vintage 1965.

Friday, June 1, 2007


Interesting connection made today in a USA Today article about how Americans have some skittishness about believing in robots as helpers in their daily lives. This writer calls fear of robots a "Frankenstein complex," as if to suggest that our worries over the monster made by man limit our enthusiasm for push-button vacuum cleaners and the like.

The Japanese, he suggests, have no such self-imposed phobias. But we Americans put faces on our robots in our imaginations. They become droids poised to take over our world. Writer Tom A. Peter cites a list of films—and, implicitly, our favorite monster—as the cultural forces that shape our fears and prejudices.

If we could come to love our monster, can't we learn to love our robots too?