Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (By Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith) adapted by Tony Lee, illustrated by Cliff Richards
If you enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, then you’ll be overjoyed by this graphic adaptation. Personally, I found it twice as humorous and far more easy to hack through than the original zombie-Austen mashup. And who doesn’t like more pictures, really?
I was going to be a little unorthodox (*giggles*) and give you some more pictures straight up, because they pretty much say everything that needs to be said about the book, however in having a look at some of the current copyright issues around it you’ll have to do with some comparisons and my own descriptions. Big thanks to Caroline, a friend of my sisters from the University of Sydney, who let me borrow her copy of the book to review and enjoy! She can rest assured that I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly.
The charming illustrations, sitting somewhere between From Hell, Sin City and House of the Dead (and maybe even with a slight head-nod to anime), might not appeal to everyone’s tastes. I’ve heard it described as “half-arsed” and “unfinished” perhaps because of several construction lines left, but the sketch-style leaves enough to the imagination to not steal all personal interpretation away. It uses light and shade heavily, and in black and white style it could have done with a splash of colour here and there (utlisied in SC and HotD as mentioned) or a wash of colour (zombies are colourful entities, you know?!). The cover of the book could also have been more appealing, or at least be of the same style as the inside illustrations- while it sits well with the novel Pride and Prej and Zombies cover, it just doesn’t match its own content and seems confused, at best, and at worst misleading (this especially applies as it is the sort of book that appeals to Janeites and literary mashup fans, not solely graphic novel/comic readers)! While it is text-heavy, and more like incredible graphic From Hell in this sense, it is a fairly quick read.
House of the Dead:
The main complication and difficulty in this graphic novel were the lack of distinguishing features between several of the characters, meaning that unless you have a fairly good grasp of PPZ you’re going to be confused over which sister is which fairly early on. Similarly, the ages of characters aren’t clear and Mrs Bennet can go anywhere from looking like a hag to looking like another one of the teenaged sisters.
Symbolism is something I put a lot of stock in when reading a graphic novel, and this just didn’t come up to the standard I expect of a graphic novel, and there were only one or two images that I thought really stood out (if you have it then the silhouette of Lizzy and Wickham in Meryton is gorgeous, and a few pages after that is a fabulous image of two decayed zombies with grass coming out of the border in black. Other notables: the zombie baby image and the subsequent few frames, images of Lizzy through the lattice-windows of Pemberley and the liberal blood splattering throughout.) Horses and costuming were specifically well illustrated. Unfortunately, hairstyles left a lot to be desired for most of the characters and I never would have given Jane Bennet dark hair. I also felt that Lydia looked far too old although the cheeky little grin after her marriage with Wickham was fantastic.
It definitely made me laugh more than the PPZ book itself, and certain comedic points were well emphasized (particularly in regards to the double entendre around “balls”). If you have a specific love of onomatopaeia then this will serve you well, as in true comic style anything from “CRUNCH”, “THUMP” and “SHUNK” (that one’s a personal favourite when it comes to beheading) to “THWACK”, “SPLUT” and “CLATTER” can be found (and all of those on one double page). Some of these words just get annoying though. What exactly is “FOOM”? Why “KRAK” and not “CRACK” at points? And isn’t “CHUNK” a word, and not a sound? What sort of zombie noise is “GRUHHAAIIII!!!” anyway? These are my personal hangups though, and a lot of people may actually enjoy this sort of word-sound association.
Overall, it’s pretty fabulous, although it lacks a certain knowledge of the Regency era in the drawings that would have pushed me over the edge from minor gushing and into a gibbering drooling fan-girl wreck. I recommend checking it out and having a flip through in the book store first to see if you’ll enjoy it and can deal without coloured illustrations. However with an RRP at around ten pounds, and I’ve seen it for about 20-30 dollars (Australian) it’s not a bank breaker and is worth adding to the collection.
What do you think? Was it a good adaptation of the monster mashup we love (if you loved it)? What could have been done better? Any favourite images?