Not only have Frankenstein and Dracula been hugely influential pieces of literature but they’ve become iconic in the realm of film and television. Penny Dreadful (named after a type of 19th Century pulp fiction) sees them rub shoulders with Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray and an assortment of other characters from literature and history in a world created by John Logan (Gladiator, Skyfall). The show’s narrative may have several kinks but it’s a masterclass in style and that makes this book, which explores the show’s art, a must. The Art And Making Of Penny Dreadful by Sharon Gosling fits the bill, offering a wealth of behind the scenes stories and production art.
Produced by Sam Mendes, Logan’s show is like a grown-up version of an ill-fated screen adaptation of Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It collects a wonderful selection of literary characters and propels them into a mysterious narrative that calls on their back stories and legends. Like the much maligned Sean Connery starrer from 2002, this stars a former James Bond (this time it’s Timothy Dalton) as an explorer responsible for uniting a rag-tag group of misfits to fight the forces of evil. Eva Green stars as Medium Vanessa Ives, Josh Hartnett is sharp-shooting American Ethan Chandler and Harry Treadaway plays Victor Frankenstein.
Shot in and around Dublin, this Showtime production has a luscious production design. Gosling’s book details how Victorian London was created in 21st Century Ireland using real-life locations and a selection of clever special effects. The work and detail that has gone into this is stunning and the book touches on every aspect of production. If there’s any complaint – it’s simply that the book just isn’t large enough.
John Logan penned the introduction to Gosling’s book and offers up his reasons for creating the show, while we also get to hear from the special effects creators, make-up people and stars. This is a great book for those interested in movie and television production, horror and (most importantly) Penny Dreadful. However, be warned – The Art And Making Of Penny Dreadful features some spoilers for the show’s first season.