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Archive for January 2009

Griffins in abundance

H. G. Wells’ original Invisible Man wasn’t the first such character to be envisioned — the concept goes back at least as far as Plato’s Republic, in which shepherd Gyges of Lydia acquires the power by means of a magic ring — but in one way, Wells’ character set the standard for invisible characters to follow: by his name, which was Griffin.

Wells didn’t give Griffin a first name, but James Whale’s 1933 film The Invisible Man did, naming him Jack. In the sequel, The Invisible Man Returns (1940), the unseen character is Sir Geoffrey Radcliffe, though he obtains the Secret Formula from Griffin’s brother Frank. And one subsequent Universal film on the subject, 1942’s Invisible Agent, posited the existence of a grandson of Jack Griffin who possessed the formula but sought to keep it secret: after emigrating to the States, he took the name “Frank Raymond.”

In the graphic-novel series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill took Wells’ Griffin, contrived for him to survive the novel, and gave him the first name Hawley, possibly a reference to Dr Crippen.

Nor is the Griffin “line” confined to men. Dee Wallace Stone’s Invisible Mom character was named Laura Griffin; the heroine of T. J. MacGregor’s novel Out of Sight was Logan Griffin; and in SciFi’s Sanctuary series, Nigel Griffin, one of The Five, apparently passed his power down to daughter Anna Thayer Griffin, who in turn passed it along to daughter Clara.

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