Shaun of the Dead
by Chris Ryall, Zack Howard (IDW, 2005)

It's a sad truth that comic-book adaptations of movies are typically very bad.

It's a surprising truth that the comic-book adaptation of the film Shaun of the Dead is not.

It's a questionable truth, but I think anyone who hasn't seen the movie will disagree with my second point. I enjoyed the book a lot, but mostly because I heard the voices of the cast in my head as I read the lines, and my imagination filled in the many scenes and elaborate details that made the movie so damn funny in the first place. Without that connection, much of the humor just won't work.

And here's another thing. Comic-book adaptations are translating from one visual medium to another, so the artist is fighting against images that are already firmly implanted in the knowing reader's mind. In this case, however, artist Zack Howard has successfully drawn characters that evoke the actors who played them while maintaining a rough edge to the drawings that borders on caricature.

Chris Ryall had the unenviable task of adapting the script. I saw "unenviable" because the script is a real peach of wordsmithing, and anyone who appreciates the movie would be hard-pressed to sacrifice even a single line of dialogue. Still, working with the aid of movie co-creators Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (the latter of whom was also the star), Ryall has boiled it down to its essential elements to carry the story along.

Yeah, a lot of good stuff got lost along the way. But, like I said, the true fan will fill in the blanks. And there are a few bits here or there that fall under the "deleted scenes" heading, for those completists among you who just can't get enough.

Ultimately, though, I have to say if I have the urge and the time to relive Shaun of the Dead, I'm still likely to pick up the movie, not the book.

review by
Tom Knapp

15 December 2007

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