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The Modern Frankenstein mixes romance with horror

The Modern Frankenstein #1 cover
(Image credit: Jamie McKelvie (Heavy Metal))

Paul Cornell and Emma Vieceli are re-imagining Mary Shelley's iconic horror novel Frankenstein as a 21st-century horror/romance mash-up comic book series called The Modern Frankenstein.

(Image credit: Emma Vieceli (Heavy Metal))

"Elizabeth Kleve is a brilliant young medical student, attracted to the waspish, charismatic surgeon James Frankenstein," reads Heavy Metal's description for The Modern Frankenstein #1. "He wants to further medical science... by all means necessary. So how far is Elizabeth prepared to go?"

Cornell and Viecelli are joined by colorist Pippa Bowland and letterer Simon Bowland, with Jamie McKelvie providing a 1:10 variant cover for the first issue.

"The concept came quite quickly – A silhouette of James holding a bloody scalpel framing a closeup of a pensive Elizabeth and a moody James in the background," McKelvie tells Newsarama of the cover. 

"Basic color blocks were added to show off the different elements, but I intended the final piece to have a more stylistic scheme. When I emailed the sketch along for approval, I mentioned that I could replace the blood spatters with surgical instrument imagery if the team thought they were too much. The team replied very quickly to assure me the blood spatters weren't too much."

Here's a look at McKelvie's process on the cover, from sketch to inks, colors, and then the final version:

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The Modern Frankenstein #1 cover

(Image credit: Jamie McKelvie (Heavy Metal))

The Modern Frankenstein #1 variant cover process

Image 2 of 4

The Modern Frankenstein #1 cover

(Image credit: Jamie McKelvie (Heavy Metal))
Image 3 of 4

The Modern Frankenstein #1 cover

(Image credit: Jamie McKelvie (Heavy Metal))
Image 4 of 4

The Modern Frankenstein #1 cover

(Image credit: Jamie McKelvie (Heavy Metal))

"I wish I had a good, quick system for coloring, but unfortunately I really don't," McKelvie continues. "It involves a lot of messing around until I get something I like. I knew I wanted to bring in a kind of synthwave horror vibe to it, which meant a lot of neon pinks, greens, and yellows. Easier said than done – those colors are a breeze on screen where film lives, where you're using light to carry color. In CMYK print, pinks are very quickly dulled and yellows gain a green tinge. Once I was in the area I wanted to be with the colors, I then had to carefully check they'd be within the range that could be printed – at times even adjusting individual ink levels to get it as close as I could.

"In the end, I think it was worth it – I'm really pleased with how the cover turned out! And it was a great opportunity to work with Emma (again) and Paul," McKelvie ends. "Can't wait to read the finished book!"

Described as "a twisted horror/romance that walks a fine line between attraction and fear,"  The Modern Frankenstein is a five-issue series acting as one of the three launch titles in the new Heavy Metal imprint Magma Comix, organized by editor Denton Tipton.

"The title says it all with The Modern Frankenstein," editor Denton Tipton tells Newsarama. "It's an original, updated take on the classic tale. A twisted horror/romance, where a brilliant young medical student finds herself attracted to charismatic surgeon James Frankenstein. But how far is she willing to go, in both science and love?"

The Modern Frankenstein #1 (of 5) goes on sale on April 28.

The Modern Frankenstein will be available simultaneously in print and digitally. Check out Newsarama's list of the best comics readers for Android and iOS devices.

Newsarama Senior Editor Chris Arrant has covered comic book news for Newsarama since 2003, and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table.