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The book also sounds like a must-read for those of us who have mixed feelings about the movie. There was a lot I loved about it, but the idea seemed like it sounded better, no pun intended, on paper. I wished it had been darker, and weirder, especially after seeing Charles Fleischer, AKA Roger Rabbit and The Crypt Keeper, riffing on cartoon voices.
Plus the book apparently has Tommy Lee Jones in the role of Eddie…
I’m confused. Which came first, the book or the movie?
Book 1981, Movie 1989? Sorry, using memory for that… not checking. You may feel free to correct me.
I picked up a copy in 1985 or '86 and loved it. Then we went to live in Asia for a couple of years and I have no idea where the book ended up. When the movie came out I was like “Hey - I read that book, it was great!”
Watching the movie was a different experience from reading the book, obviously, but I really enjoyed them both.
Another book I read several years ago that had a somewhat similar feeling to it was Santa Steps Out: A Fairy-Tale For Grown-Ups by Robert Devereaux. It’s a raunchy treatment of childhood favorites such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.
The book was way different. The cartoon characters could generate paper-like dopplegangers to do stunts for them, as I recall.
Fun True Story.
Gary Wolf as a guest at an SF convention – Arisia or Boscone or something – maybe 25 years back. Roger Rabbit the movie was out and still getting talked about in fannish circles.
Wolf appeared on a panel with some authors whose books had been made into movies. One of these was Barry Longyear, whose (novella? novel?) “Enemy Mine” was made into a pretty regrettable movie.
Wolf was in his Roger Rabbit crew jacket, and talked about the AMAZING time he had visiting the set and sitting with the cast at the premier and how the movie had boosted his book sales and . … .
Meanwhile Longyear turns to him with this growing expression of not-quite-entirely-fake envious rage, and was reaching his hands toward Wolf’s neck as though to throttle him.
I think I’d categorize Longyear’s work as a novella. It was short enough to be included in an anthology, where I read it, but too long to be a short story. I read it after seeing the movie and thought, “Wow, they really trashed that.” A large part of what made the story so compelling was what went on in Davidge’s head, and his very distinct voice and strong personality. It seemed like those things would be very hard to convey cinematically, and instead of taking on the challenge the filmmakers seemed to just say, “Ah, screw it. We’ll tone it down.”
Glad to see that so many other people loved this book as well. I don’t really think the adaptation ruined this, so much as created a totally different world with some similar concepts. The toons weren’t just cartoon characters, but comic strips as well–their words weren’t audible, but printed on word balloons that appeared above their heads and eventually dropped to the ground, humans could gather them up in their hands minutes later to read what they said. As a kid growing up in the 80s who found this book in a used book sale after the movie’s release, many of the references seemed dated to me–not in the way that the world of the film is dated, but in a seedier way that reminds me of a less sanitized world, especially as seen in dime novels and such. The end, with its poor plot resolution, definitely seems to recall The Big Sleep in its shaggy-dog nature.
I really enjoyed this book when I read it is a kid, but I remember thinking the toon thing was a clumsy and problematic metaphor for race… The parts that seemed most to convey that were the segregated sides of town and most especially the tiny subplot about integrated football teams. The football bit stuck out because it did seem to mirror past controversies about team integration in a way that did not work within the context of the novel. If toons could be giant gorillas, then there would be no way mixed teams would exist professionally. Therefore, it’s casting the alien other as worse at thinking, but better at athletics, but not in a way that works in the universe of the book. As if to amplify this point, the bit in the book was about a female toon playing professional football - thus highlighting the interchangeability of alien others.
But I haven’t read this book since I was 14, so I could be remembering wrong…
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