Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel (Book)
Reviewed by Mr. Dark
Written by Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith, Tony Lee
Art by Cliff Richards
Many of you had to read boring nonsense like Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in school. I didn't, thankfully. Oh, I had to read entirely different boring nonsense, but at least it was entirely bereft of petticoats, formal balls, suitors, and stiff proper British people staggering around having stilted, unnatural conversations about love.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies took most of Austen's text and added a bit, just enough to turn the tale into one involving zombies and Kung Fu. I'll be perfectly honest: the full-text version was too much for me. The Austen-to-zombie ratio was just too tilted towards Austen for me to wade through hundreds of pages. (The wonderful prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls, does NOT suffer from this ailment, as seen in my review here.)
Are you like me? Daunted by the troublesome...thickness of the horror remix? Look no further; help is here with the graphic novel adaptation! It's been out in the UK for a while, but it's just out this month in the US, and not a moment too soon.
As expected, the story is condensed to adapt to the format. For people like me that's a blessing. A picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case at least 500 of them are words I'd really rather not have to read.
Tony Lee's adaptation hits all the high points of the novel, set to delicate, detailed black and white art from Cliff Richards. However, it's with the art that the first of my complaints arises.
The problem Richards runs into is that you have five sisters of very similar ages as the main characters and their friends/cousins/parents/mentors, most of them women as well. That's a lot of early 19th Century women, a time when there was little variance in hairstyles or dress. When you figure that the Bennet sisters often wear matching 'training/fighting gowns', the situation gets worse. I'll come out and say it: Sometimes it's incredibly difficult to sort out who is who. In some sequences I found myself getting two pages in, only to find I had the entirely wrong idea of who was confronting whom, forced to backtrack and re-read the section to sort it all out. That's not good in a graphic novel. I think a bit of color would have greatly helped here. Richards' pencils just don't give enough detail to differentiate between these characters.
He isn't helped by the abbreviated adaptation. By necessity the story jumps around quite a bit. Sometimes you'll cross several months in three pages. One page, someone will be leaving. The next, it's a month later and they've sent a letter home. The one after, it's still later, with another letter arriving. While they sometimes include 'one month later' boxes, these are often skipped, which baffles me. It can be very hard following where we are in space and time, which only compounds the problem with misidentifying characters.
In both cases, however, these problems are pitfalls of adapting this very unconventional source material to the format, not a failure of the creators. Do they make the GN harder to read than it should be? Yes. Does it make it a chore? No, not at all.
The story still comes through, the humor inherent in conjoining martial arts and zombie onslaughts with classic romance is still there, and there's a lot to enjoy here. Richards' art, previous complaints aside, is exquisite. Some of the one- and two-page spreads of zombie mayhem would look great as prints on my wall.
Should you read this? Like Dawn of the Dreadfuls, yes, with conditions. If you've read the novel, there probably isn't that much here for you. If you suffer from the same ailment as I do (best described as 'dear GOD, are classic British romances painful to read disease'), then this is definitely recommended. Sure, Natalie Portman is going to bring Elizabeth to life on the screen eventually, but what are the chances they'll get that right? Best split the difference and jump on here with the 'light' illustrated version of the original, or better yet, go pick up Dawn of the Dreadfuls!
2 1/2 out of 5
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