Dick Briefer Frankenstein's Serious 1950s Horror Turn, at Auction

Dick Briefer's Frankenstein has a complicated history in the context of comic book horror.  The debut of Briefer's take on the Frankenstein monster mythos began in Prize Comics #7, December 1940, which has come to be considered an important milestone in the context of comic book horror.  Early on, this version of the character was certainly horrific, but perhaps more akin to giant monster horror than gothic horror.  This Frankenstein monster was enormous — he was several times the size of a normal human and sometimes is shown to be large enough to carry a man in one hand.  Not quite the size of King Kong perhaps, but in the ballpark.  In fact, in his second appearance, he climbed to the top of a skyscraper and fought a giant mutant crocodile in a clear nod to Kong's Skull Island battles.

Frankenstein Comics #20 (Prize, 1952)
Frankenstein Comics #20 (Prize, 1952)

The Frankenstein monster was put through his paces during this period, and before long, became a rampaging, villainous adventure character, hounded by humans. In some ways, his exploits began to resemble those of a certain later-era hulking monster which we're all familiar with today.  At one point, in Prize Comics #24 (October 1942), the Prize Comics super-heroes (Yank and Doodle, the Black Owl, the Green Lama and Doctor Frost) teamed up to try to stop him.  On a later occasion, the U.S. Army was deployed to capture him.  After this, through treatment by a scientist to cure him of his wicked ways, the saga took a strange turn.  In Prize Comics #34 (September 1943) the character was made into a gentle giant and productive member of society as "Mr. Frankenstein", a very large, very strong dude with a nice sweater and a better haircut.  This version eventually fell under Nazi control, but then snapped out of that control and worked undercover as a Nazi to fight against them.  All the while, Briefer was taking the continuity of the character very seriously, and periodically reminded the reader of the history of all of these twists and turns.

Subsequent to the Frankenstein Nazi adventure, the story notes another twist.  "The truth of it all is that Frankenstein is cruel, wicked, bestial at night — and kind and humane by day," which again is similar to what would later become the original concept of Marvel's Hulk.  Briefer's art on the character had slowly been becoming looser and more cartoony through this period, and then with Prize Comics #45 (September 1944) the series quietly slips into comedy mode.  Perhaps the most famous aspect of the character's run, the comedy Frankenstein would continue through the beginning of the Frankenstein series itself in 1945.

But with the early 1950s rise in comic book horror, the character again took a turn.  Frankenstein #18 reboots the character and his title as a serious horror comic to bring it in line with what we now refer to as the Pre-Code Horror era.  Like most other horror comics of the period, Frankenstein's run as a horror comic was stopped by the formation of the Comics Magazine Association of America Code and its Comics Code guidelines, which became a de facto requirement to get distribution to newsdealers in the United States. The Comics Magazine Association of America adopted its Code on October 26, 1954, and Frankenstein ended with #33 cover-dated October-November 1954.  But that brief run of true Frankenstein horror from the Pre-Code era is highly sought-after by collectors, and there's a chance to get several issues of the true Pre-Code Horror Frankenstein run up for auction, including a gorgeous second-highest-graded Frankenstein #24 (Prize, 1953) CGC VF 8.0 Off-white pages in the 2022 March 31 The Black Cat Collection and Pre-Code Horror Comics & Comic Art Showcase Auction #40186 at Heritage Auctions.

Frankenstein Comics #24 (Prize, 1953)
Frankenstein Comics #24 (Prize, 1953)

 

Frankenstein Comics #15 (Prize, 1948) Condition: FN-. Dick Briefer art. Overstreet 2021 FN 6.0 value = $165.

Frankenstein Comics #18 (Prize, 1949) Condition: GD+. Horror series begins. Dick Briefer cover and art. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $123.

Frankenstein Comics #19 (Prize, 1952) Condition: FN-. Dick Briefer story, cover, and art. Overstreet 2021 FN 6.0 value = $261.

Frankenstein Comics #20 (Prize, 1952) Condition: FN-. Dick Briefer "classic" cover, story, and art. Overstreet 2021 FN 6.0 value = $261.

Frankenstein Comics #21 (Prize, 1952) Condition: VG/FN. Dick Briefer cover. Briefer and Mort Meskin art. Rated a Gerber "8" or "rare" on their Scarcity Index. Overstreet 2021 VG 4.0 value = $130; FN 6.0 value = $195.

Frankenstein Comics #22 (Prize, 1953) CGC FN+ 6.5 Cream to off-white pages. Dick Briefer provided the story, cover, and art for this issue, with Mort Meskin adding some interior art. Overstreet 2021 FN 6.0 value = $195; VF 8.0 value = $416. CGC census 3/22: 2 in 6.5, 7 higher.

Frankenstein Comics #24 (Prize, 1953) CGC VF 8.0 Off-white pages. Dick Briefer story, cover, and art. One of the two best copies on CGC's census for the issue. Overstreet 2021 VF 8.0 value = $416. CGC census 3/22: 1 in 8.0, 1 higher.

Frankenstein Comics #26 (Prize, 1953) CGC VF- 7.5 Light tan to off-white pages. Dick Briefer cover and art. Overstreet 2021 VF 8.0 value = $416. CGC census 3/22: 3 in 7.5, 4 higher.

Frankenstein Comics #32 (Prize, 1954) Condition: FN. Dick Briefer cover and art. Overstreet 2021 FN 6.0 value = $174.

Heritage Sponsored
Affiliates of Bleeding Cool buy from and/or consign to Heritage Auctions.

Enjoyed this? Please share on social media!

Mark SeifertAbout Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
twitterfacebook
Comments will load 8 seconds after page. Click here to load them now.