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Pride And Prejudice And Zombies
posted May 5, 2010
Tony Lee, Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen, Cliff Richards
Random House, softcover, 176 pages, May 2010, $14.99
9780345520685 (ISBN13), 0345520688 (ISBN10)
This is the comics version of a publishing prose hit, although given the subject matter no one would blame the average person for thinking the project moved from comics to prose. I read Pride and Prejudice
in college for a professor who thought Jane Austen and I were both idiots. I've seen what seems like three or four filmed versions of the work. I have to admit that neither the book nor any of the films really took with me beyond a general appreciation won on a partial re-read for the lively quality of the writing. Any of the smaller, nuanced jokes to be found here setting the flesh-eaters on the Bennet family and their acquaintances are going to be lost on me. Fortunately, the concept itself seems sturdy enough for the occasional laugh on first causes alone. As much as horror fans have an endless appetite for flesh-ripping and zombie-killing, and Austen fans exhibit a friendliness towards all things Austen, so will anyone who thinks the mash-up concept to be a delightful thing likely have a similar patience with as many collisions of proper and gory as the storyline allows.
As far as I can tell, the adapters did a sturdy job communicating the basic absurdities. There's an injection of warrior/chosen one/other paths into the basic social scenario that causes a few sparks, nothing unfamiliar to readers of modern horror on TV and in film, but a little bit novel here for the costumes and pageantry. I thought the comic rather long, and I'm not sure I remembered back 20 pages by the time I got to the final one; I know how Jane Austen and zombie movies tend to end and I wasn't surprised by what we got here in tandem. Basically, I'm at a loss to say anything at all. I'm not sure how a book like this is supposed to function. It's like someone wrote an entire book based on a five-second Second City
before-the-commercial throwaway teaser. I believe its very existence is supposed
to delight as much as its execution. As I don't share in the former, I can't make a judgment on the latter beyond shrugging my shoulders. It was difficult to read more than a few pages at a time, I can tell you that. Maybe that's the difference between pop culture now and then. Thirty years ago ramming your z-grade peanut butter into their capital l literary chocolate felt like an act of subversion. The boring stuff far outnumbered the junk. Too much Brideshead Revisited
; too little Dr. Who
. These days shoving some aspect of all the junk that's out there into some poor piece of unsuspecting literature feels like something between an act of bullying and an expression of commerce on a sliding scale of self-regard. I never had much of a reaction to Jane Austen, but even what little I remember feeling was more profound and human than "Man, I wish I
thought of that! Ka-ching!" The more subversive and maybe even more fun thing to do these days may be to leave the Austen alone.