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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Tony Lee taks Zombies -- and Jane Austen!

British comics creator Tony Lee is a busy man: popping up at the Bristol Comic Expo last weekend, writing a number of projects, with more in the pipeline. 

This week, he found time to talk to Mike Braff at the Del Rey Internet Newsletter about his work on the new Pride and Prejudice and Zombies graphic novel, and Mike has very kindly given us permission to re-publish that quick chat here on downthetubes...

After penning the graphic novel adaptation of Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith's Victorian Zombie gorefest, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Tony Lee sat down with the DRIN to answer some questions about comics, adapting stories into the graphic novel format, and of course, PPZ!

Del Rey Internet Newsletter: Were you a fan of Jane Austen, zombies, and/or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies when you began this project?

TONY LEE: I was never a massive fan of Jane's work, but I was a fan of the latter -- and in fact had been discussing the book with a friend the evening before Del Rey contacted me to see if I was interested in pitching for the book. Suffice to say that when my editor emailed me, I told her I would kill as many of her enemies as she needed for the chance to do the project!

Del Rey Internet Newsletter: You've written creator-owned comics (Hope Falls and Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood) as well as adaptations (the Gatekeepers series, Horowitz Graphic Horror). What were the particular challenges of this adaptation?

TONY: The biggest problem of any adaptation is how to take the core story and reduce it to a graphic format without losing the core moments, the lines from the book that definitely need to be in the comic. With a book like this, effectively already an adaptation of sorts, not only do I have quotes from the first book to keep in the story, but also new ones and revised versions of the first ones to add into this one. In addition, with a book like this we have a large chunk of action scenes that need to take center stage but at the same time keep from detracting from the main story, of marriage and position in a war-torn society.

The second biggest problem is dialogue. A novel can have a monologue that takes an entire page, but to put that into a comic needs pruning, and as I said above, some times the words simply can't be cut. So you find yourself moving moments, scenes lengthened or even shortened to keep the story continuing along at a pace that doesn't seem disjointed, while at the same time ensuring that it's still the story that the reader remembers from the first time they read the book.

Del Rey Internet Newsletter: Now that you've finished Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, what are you working on right now that you're really excited about?

TONY: Lots of things! Firstly I'm currently writing the ongoing Doctor Who series for IDW Publishing and we're about to start working on the Eleventh Doctor stories. This is a big thing for me, as I grew up on this TV series and it's great to see America really embracing it. In addition to that my first young adult novel is currently being looked at by a couple of large UK publishing houses and I should hear about that (and any possible sequels) by the time Pride & Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel comes out, and I'm currently working on and pitching a graphic novel series of books on the Baker Street Irregulars, another childhood love, so I'm currently living the dream.

That and waiting by the telephone, waiting for the call to adapt Pride & Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn Of The Dreadfulls...

• Reprinted here with the full permission of Mike Braff at Del Rey Books

More about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith; Adapted by Tony Lee; Illustrated by Cliff Richards on the Random House web site

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