Monday, July 23, 2007

How To Make A MonsterGrrl: FRANKIE FRANKEN

(This post begins an irregular series in which John talks about his characters and the influences of their creation. We begin with the MonsterGrrls' leader: our charming Creature, Frankie Franken.)

Frankie Franken: Nancy Drew Meets Frankenstein's Daughter

The main reason I have so violently pursued this project known as The MonsterGrrls is very simple: Upon their creation, the Grrls arrived cut from whole cloth. That has never happened with anything else I've ever come up with, and that alone seemed reason enough to pursue it.

So what to say about my Creature-Grrl, Frankie Franken? She is, quite obviously, the Child Of Frankenstein, a hybrid of both Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester as they appeared in the films Frankenstein and The Bride Of Frankenstein. Both of Jack Pierce's makeups were referenced for her creation: I felt she should have the green
skin, the neck bolts, the stitches, the head-clamps, and of course, that beautiful, funky, Nefertiti-inspired hair, with a couple extra white streaks added and morphed into lightning bolts. (After all, there's never been any doubt in my mind that that hairdo is extremely conductive.)

Some updated elements were added too, such as a Ramones-style leather jacket, black jeans and the clunky boots, which were back in style again when the Grrls first saw the dark of night in 2001. Her T-shirt began as a striped T-shirt before I gave her a Shazam-style T-shirt, red with a yellow lightning bolt, perfect for a Creature born of lightning.

Frankie possesses her own kind of beauty, and her personality is very Grrl-next-door: sweet, intrepid, outgoing, and most importantly, intelligent. I had seen enough of dumb Frankensteins: though Boris Karloff's characterization of the Creature is both terrifying and sad, it has been the template for any number of goofball characterizations, and nearly all of them fall far from Mary Shelley's original Creature, which was cunning, well-spoken, thoughtful and quite self-aware. I wanted to go back to this, and as a result, Dr. Franken, who is Frankie's creator and "father", ensured that Frankie would be intelligent by teaching her once she got off the slab. I felt that Victor Frankenstein's big mistake was that he gave up on his Creature almost from the moment it woke up. I've never been sure what he expected: a home-grown, homemade homunculus cannot be expected to turn out like Brad Pitt mixed with Albert Einstein no matter how good you are. The Creature needed training, direction and acceptance. Most of all, it needed love.

And that's one of the real horrors these days when you think about it: that a lot of teenagers don't get the care and direction and love that they need. If you're going to be a parent, your child needs these things. If the child doesn't get them, it will become quite literally a monster, pure and simple.

So Frankie got trained in etiquette, poise, grammar, speech, vocabulary, and tap dancing (heh-heh, thank you, Mel Brooks; Young Frankenstein is still one of the best Frankenstein movies ever made). And there was, inevitably, a Nancy Drew influence; both of them have the same taste for adventure, and despite Frankie's enormous talents in Mad Science, I think she has a secret desire to be a detective. She's read all of her universe's equivalent of Nancy Drew, and her adventures at Clearwater High, (both present and forthcoming) will give her plenty of opportunity to sharpen her skills. Of the Grrls, she's probably my personal favorite, and she serves as a continuing inspiration and drive to keep working and keep punching with the Grrls, because she's one of the reasons that I've just got to see what happens next.

Next: Bethany Ruthven


Good evening, darlings, and thank you for reading. As you all probably know (mostly because the bloody media won't let us alone about anything anymore), the seventh and final book in J. K. Rowling's much-admired Harry Potter series, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, has just been released. Having finished it, I was initially loath to do a review of it because, quite frankly, none of us here at MonsterGrrls Central have any intention of giving away the answer to the big question: Does Harry Potter die?

Nevertheless, we must respond, so here is the MonsterGrrls' official answer, which I have been duly authorized to give: Buy the bloody thing and read it yourself if you want to find out, you grubby little git. What kind
of monsters do you think we are?

Now, I'm sure that some of you are wondering how I'm going to be able to review this book without giving away the proper answer to the does-Harry-die question. Well, here's how it goes:

People die. Other people become seriously injured. Some other people prove themselves to be right sodding bastards. Still other people confirm deep suspicions about themselves and their character that you have probably had all along. There's a quest (duh). There's quite a bit of violence, fighting and magic-using, which goes without saying (also duh). Two major characters do die, after all, in quite spectacular ways. (No, I'm not going to tell you who. See above.) Tons of secrets are finally revealed

And in the end (and I hope I'm not giving too much away by saying this), that which has been given the least amount of analysis and scrutiny throughout the whole of this series, that which has had almost no press or media attention at all, is that which ultimately saves the day.

Now read the bleeding thing yourself and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Sincerely yours,
Bethany Ruthven

Full marks. Completely sodding brilliant. But then, it's J. K. Rowling, so what else could it be?

POST-MORTEM: In the event that you are now searching around for something else to take up your time, an excellent fantasy called The MonsterGrrls is available for purchase at, or go directly to It's quite good and more spiritually satisfying than being on Myspace, so come round and have a look. --B. R.