The Penny Dreadful was a 19th-century publishing phenomenon. These cheap, sensational, highly illustrated stories were very popular with the Victorian public.
In the 1830s, increasing literacy and improving technology saw a boom in cheap fiction for the working classes. ‘Penny bloods’ was the original name for the booklets that, in the 1860s, were renamed Penny Dreadfuls and told stories of adventure, initially of pirates and highwaymen, later concentrating on crime and detection.
Penny Dreadfuls were issued weekly, each ‘number’, or episode, was eight (occasionally 16) pages, with a black-and-white illustration on the top half of the front page. Double columns of text filled the rest, breaking off at the bottom of the final page, even if it was the middle of a sentence.
The bloods were astonishingly successful, creating a vast new readership. Between 1830 and 1850 there were up to 100 publishers of penny-fiction, as well as the many magazines which now wholeheartedly embraced the genre.
There is some THING within us all.
Penny Dreadful the Showtime show is a powerfully written saga filled with dark mystery and suspense. It lives in a demimonde — a half world between reality and the supernatural — where personal demons from the past can be stronger than vampires, evil spirits and immortal beasts.
Some of literature's most terrifying figures, including Dr. Frankenstein and his Creature, Dorian Gray, and iconic figures from the novel Dracula are lurking in the darkest corners of the city. They are joined by a core of original characters in a new narrative filled with alienation and dread.
A dashing American who finds himself trapped in the darkest corners of Victorian London, Ethan's charm and brash ways are catnip to the ladies. Sir Malcolm enlists him to help in a personal quest, and Ethan becomes protective of the beautiful Vanessa. But behind Ethan's bright eyes lurk dark secrets. He is running from something, and his troubling past threatens to overtake him at every turn.
“There are things you can’t control. There are battles you lose. At the end of the day, the only thing we have is the people we trust.” – Ethan Chandler