Forrest Helvie’s story, “The Alchemist,” is part of the expanded works in Unfashioned Creatures digital collection of stories. We put our Franken-questions to the writer to learn more of his take on Shelley’s tale.

Q: Be honest! How familiar were you with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein when you first pitched for Unfashioned Creatures?

A: Well, I have three degrees in English literature, so it’s probably fair to say I’ve spent more than my fair share with this work. And without a doubt, I have loved every reading of it! There is something very appealing to gothic literature from the nineteenth century, and Shelley’s seminal work is – along with much of Poe’s work – some of the best.

Q: What’s your favorite take on the Frankenstein mythos? Least favorite?

A: There’s no school like the old school! In all honesty, there are only two versions of Frankenstein for me: First and foremost: Shelley’s original novel. After that, it has to be Boris Karlof in the original black and white films. Anything else is falls short. They’re interesting in terms of who’s the real monster? I think, in part, Dr. Frankenstein is rather monstrous in the novel; yet, it’s the common man that we see behaving like monsters in the film. So, these two representations do a great job of using the monster to view aspects of our own abhorrent behavior.

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Q: Major inspirations for your art/writing? What led you down the comics road to ruin?

A: In my creative writing, I probably have three places that comes to mind where I draw inspiration from depending on what the story is I’m writing. First, my two little boys inspire me most when it comes to my all-ages stories. I constantly ask myself: “Is this something they would run to pick up off a book store shelf? Will this story stick with them after I finish reading it with them?”

I’m also inspired by friends who are writers. This has less to do with what I write, but instead, that I write. It’s easy to buy into the desire to “veg out” after work and family, but they do it all the same – and they’re producing some great stuff. So that inspires me to put a few words down on paper every night that I can.

Finally, the source that likely inspires me most regardless of what I’m writing comes from reading – comic, novels, academic work, poetry – you name it. I’ve read in various sources how there are as few as seven and up to thirty-six sources of conflict in literature. The number is irrelevant. What’s important to know is that all the stories have already been told, so I try to simply look for some fresh spins on familiar tales. Whether I’m successful… well, readers will decide. But reading a lot has certainly been a real help when looking for inspiration.

And did I mention coffee? Because that’s pretty much fueling anything and everything I write. .

Q: What else are you working on now? Any long-term projects?

A: Well, I have a few projects in the works. In December of 2013, I completed my Ph.D. in English Literature, and my dissertation “Capes and the Canon: Comic Book Superheroes and Canonical American Literature” should be published sometime in the next year. I also have a handful of comic stories being published with GrayHavens Comics, and another creator-owned project in the works. Finally, there are few academic collection I’m working on related to comics and comics studies that I can’t say much about right now, but they should be out shortly as well. Between these projects and my regular writing projects with Newsarama and Sequart, I’m managing to keep busy.

Q: If you could be any monster, who/what would you be?

A: GREAT question! I feel like Frankenstein should be the right answer, but I have to go with a werewolf. They’re the all-around threat compared to the rest of the monsters out there and easily the coolest looking. Plus, they never have to quit their day job!

Forrest Helvie lives in Bristol, CT with his wife and two sons, and writes for Newsarama. Most recently, Forrest won the prestigious 2012 Lent Award in Comics Studies from the National Popular Culture Association.

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UNFASHIONED CREATURES is a collection of over twenty monstrous, moving and mirthful tributes to Mary Shelley and her legendary tale, Frankenstein. An eclectic body of comic shorts, short-series and original art, sure to inspire equal parts terror and lols.

Matthew Erman compiled questions for this interview.