I have been curious about the whole mash-up thing, taking classics and adding zombies or vampires or whatever to the mix. I think it’s a clever idea mostly because anything that encourages or inspires people to read is a-okay in my book. (Okay. Maybe not any and every book but mostly I’m okay with, okay?) I mean, I had seen Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and long before the movie was released, I had seen Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter in the bookstore. I was intrigued, curious, but also skeptical. So when I saw a graphic novel that did this sort of thing, I eagerly pounced because that seemed a perfect way to check it out without spending hours of reading time that I could be using to enjoy either a classic novel or a vampire novel without wasting time on a mash-up that I did not enjoy.
A graphic novel doesn’t demand as much time from the reader so it was a perfect choice for me to give this sub-genre a try and see what I thought of it.
It’s hard not to have fun reading something like this, especially when the author goes to the trouble of interjecting obvious allusions to the original text, twisting them slightly to fit the context of a different story. A literary inside joke, if you will. I can see why these types of books would be so hugely popular. There are things the author does to add layers of meaning to Dickens’ original story. (The Spirit of Christmas Past in particular.) These work to make this story McCann’s even when remaining grounded in the original text.
The illustrations are gorgeous and make this graphic novel soar. There are pages that are so beautifully laid out, I had to pause simply to admire the artistry. The colors and characterizations are wonderfully, most especially in how Scrooge himself is drawn. When I read the content at the back of the book, where the author and illustrator discuss their work, I had to laugh because it is quite obvious that some of the drawings are inspired by Alphonse Mucha.
There is a brilliantly subtle effect created in having two artists illustrate this story, with one drawing the journeys into Scrooge’s past. Both artists remain true to the others’ work yet there is a difference in style that comes through just enough to reinforce the idea that we are somewhere else just as Scrooge himself is.
I definitely liked this graphic novel much more than I thought I would although I found the ending a little too convenient, a bit hastily pulled together and sort of thrown out there. Right down to the “God Bless Us Everyone.” But a hasty ending is not enough for me to dismiss this book altogether. Ultimately, however, I don’t think that I appreciate or enjoy the idea of a mash-up and, if this graphic novel is indicative of the sub-genre as a whole, then I am probably not going to read another. That I enjoyed this at all, let alone as much as I truly did, is a testament to the creators. The illustrators I cannot possibly praise enough. And if the author didn’t depart enough from the original for my tastes then that is more indicative of my own subjective opinion than not. After all, I can appreciate his choosing to stick closely to the primary source but to end the novel with “God Bless Us Everyone” is just too strange. I mean, why? You have a story about the dead coming back to life during a Christian holiday season and all so why bring God into it? As if Christianity and the dead walking the Earth have anything to do with one another. I mean, seriously! What was Jim McCann thinking.