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Illustration > 15.1 Book & Editorial Illustration

Illustrations for Mary Shelley´s Frankenstein

by Martin Stark

Last year I drew about 50 illustrations for the new edition of Mary Shelleys 1818 novel „Frankenstein or the modern Prometheus“ for the German publisher „Büchergilde Gutenberg“ in Frankfurt am Main, which was published in October 2019 to celebrate its 200th anniversary. 
To create a dramatic and gloomy atmosphere similar to the story I used only black fineliners and markers on white DIN A4 paper to resemble woodcuts consisting of harsh lights and shadows to give the effect of dark surroundings illuminated by lightning. The drawings also were meant to be a homage to the old Boris Karloff „Frankenstein“ movies and Mel Brooks „Young Frankenstein“, which were made in black and white. 
I tried to show the creature only in parts or as a shadow and not in whole to keep him mysterious and to give the reader the opportunity to create his own fearceful looking creature in his mind from these bits and pieces (like Frankenstein did in his laboratory). I also wanted the creature not to resemble the famous Boris Karloff mask, but to give him as new look close to the novels descriptions.
To match the story, I choose to draw most of the illustrations from the point of view of the three narrating main characters, Victor Frankenstein, his creature and Captaim Walton. Also I includes scenes of scenery and landscapes to contrast the action. I tried to find the right rhythm between suspense and calmness in the illustrations throughout the whole story to keep it exiting while flicking the book. On the first look the drawings should arouse curiosity and be mysterious, while after having finished reading the novel, the illustrations should reveal more and other meaning to the reader.
Also I included two special illustrations as references to the origins of the story. One was my interpretation of Theodor von Holst`s etching of the frontispiece for the 1831 edition of „Frankenstein“, which I liked to have in the same place for the 200 year edition to celebrate this event. The other one was inspired by Henry Fuesli`s painting „The Nightmare“, who was a close friend of Mary Shelley`s mother, and which was a huge influence for her in creating one particular scene in the novel.
I wanted to present a mixture of illustrations one may expect from the „Frankenstein“ movies, that are also included  in the novel, like the birth of the creature or the lynchmob in the village, and scenes that are only in the novel, that are unexpected to people who only know the films. My aim was to present this classic tale in a modern way and to be respectful to the story and its author.

  • Creative Directors Cosima Schneider
  • Art Directors
  • Designers
  • Illustrators Martin Stark
  • Photographers
  • Editors
  • Copywriters Büchergilde Gutenberg
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