Mash-ups seem to be a hot topic these days. From Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to Alice Cooper VS Earth, Wind & Fire, today’s generation loves to take two distinctly different things and slam them together. In music, mash-ups have been going on since the creation of rock, but thanks to the digital era just about anyone can take two songs and smash them together. Whereas a remix takes a portion of a song and replaces it with another musical sound or beat, a mash-up will often the full parts of songs and weave them over or beside another song’s vocals or music. When a mash-up is done well, it creates a whole new song that becomes its OWN entity, greater than the sum of its parts.
Perhaps due to their monthly episodic nature, there have been more crazy mash-ups in comics than just about any other genre. From Superman & Spider-Man, to Doctor Who & Star Trek, there have been thousands of crazy comicbook mash-ups. At one point Dark Horse was putting out so many crossover comics with franchises they had acquired that it became a running gag. I believe their peak achievement was Buffy Vs Aliens Vs Predator VS Terminator.
Seth Grahame-Smith is without a doubt the current king of Mash-ups. Not only did his books capture the eye of the internet generation, but he was chosen as the Hollywood go-to guy for mash-up movies. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies managed to make it to #3 on the New York Times bestseller list, mainly due to public interest in the mash-up. Not bad for what is basically a re-write of a public domain novel. I’m not knocking the work, I did the same thing with GAME OF BLOOD . Creating a mash-up requires a whole different skill set than writing in your own words. You have to carefully balance the words of the original author with what you are putting in; if you do it poorly, it will be glaringly obvious which parts of the story were jammed in. Sometimes the material is difficult and requires major re-writes of large parts of the story; other times everything just falls together on its own. I had a lot of help with GOB because Bond was described as cold and inhuman in Fleming’s original novel. All I had to do was emphasize the traits that were already there. It was more difficult to change the villains because once they became vampires too, I needed to devise new ways to kill them off.
Hollywood has been making mash-ups since Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, released in 1943. The biggest mash-up of my generation would have to be Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The film didn’t have the drama or horror of the comicbook series, but everyone knew what it was and who the characters were in it. The way Moore depicted London, England, was a huge inspiration for LONDON UNDEAD. If you love mash-ups, London Undead features the cast of Dracula against a horde of zombies. Fighting both against and with them are the characters from The Phantom of the Opera (now haunting a theater in England) and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. A link to the book can be found at the end of this post.
If you are not sure what kind of story you want to write next, consider a mash-up. They can be fun to write and a great exercise for the brain. I loved writing the mash-ups I’ve done; they were great mental work-outs to get me prepared for writing my own original work. A mash-up might just be what you need to break through that writer’s block.
You can find the book here: