Friday, September 24, 2010

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey - the Novel and the Comic Book

These two adaptations are getting lumped together because they are both based off the original movie script and will therefore have some similarities. I figured this should hopefully save me from repeating myself.

I remember having the novel version of the movie back in the day. I guess I traded it in at the used book store eventually, because it's gone now, but I was able to pick up a copy very cheaply on Amazon marketplace. This is definitely a "young adults" book. It's 201 pages with medium sized text and written in a style that's geared toward adolescents. Perhaps the most interesting and kind of cute choice is that the narrator speaks like Bill & Ted. The first sentences of Chapter 1 are as follows:

"The future is a foreign country. They do things most triumphantly there."

As a kid I probably would have found this amusing and possibly even cool. I know that I had no memory of it being like this until I read it again, so it obviously didn't annoy me at all. Maybe since I was watching the movie everyday I was totally already talking and thinking in their mode of speak anyway. I can tell you for certain that since I've been doing this marathon the words "totally" and "most _____" are creeping into my thought patterns. It's kind of scary. Anyway, the point is as I started reading this time I found this a bit annoying, but as I got farther into it I guess I just got used to it. However I think it's safe to say this would probably prevent the normal adult to get into this book without severely rolling their eyes at all times.

The book follows the plot of the movie but the scenes that hit the cutting room floor as still included, and there's a couple differences to be found. There's also a little bit of extra dialogue here and there. One extra line I found particularly fun, and I found this cute enough that it stuck out in my mind even over the many years since I first read it, is when Bill & Ted are in their own personal hell. In the movie they emerge from the Colonel Oats hell and Bill simply says "Let's split up!" In the book it goes like this:

"You know how in the movies, like Friday the 13th and Night of the Living Dead, you know how someone always says, 'Let's split up' and we're in the audience going totally, 'No, no, dudes, don't split up, how can you be so totally stupid to split up like that?'"
"I got an idea."
"Let's split up!"

I don't know if that was the script or the writer, but it's a fun jab regardless.

The biggest deleted scene and the most well known is the rock breaking scene. After their seemingly never ending fall into hell and the landing on the rock, originally a rather scary looking demon guy appeared and handed them sledgehammers, forcing them to break up rocks. Ted discovers that he's quite good at it and enjoys it immensely, but would prefer to do it as a hobby rather than for the rest of eternity. They try to ask the demon to let them go, but his only response is to pull a rat out of his mouth. They're both impressed and Ted mentions that they knew a guy who found one in his bucket of chicken once. This scene is also depicted in the graphic novel, and clips of it are included with lots of others during The Reaper Rap full song playing over the movie's end credits once "God Gave Rock N Roll To You II" finishes.

There's an additional deleted scene between their time at the hardware/electronic store and before they get to the concert. DeNomolos also constructed versions of Colonel Oats, Granny S Preston and the Easter Bunny. The evil robots send these three after them, and it's up to Bill & Ted to conquer their fears: Bill must kiss his grandma, Ted must call Deacon and apologize for stealing the Easter basket, and they kill Colonel Oats with kindness.

Another thing you'll hear a piece of in the Reaper Rap is the very different ending. Instead of the good robot B&T being controlled by controllers, they have minds of their own, and once out of the van they head off in the opposite direction and Station, now split in two again, follows them. Bill & Ted figure they've got to go it alone and go in without them. They get killed again, but since they beat Death in four games, they've got two more free lives and come back. They manage to defeat the evil robots on their own, popping off their heads. The good robots show up, crashing through the back wall in time to save the princesses from falling to their deaths from the rafters. DeNomolos appears in the time machine, but B&T hit the self destruct buttons on the evil robots heads and toss them at DeNomolos, blowing him up to nothing more than a pile of ash. They then give a different "inspirational" speech that includes lines like "Kiss your fears, dudes.. and maybe they'll get smaller or even go away" and "Never let yourself get programmed by anybody but yourself." Beyond fixing this terrible nonsensical mess, my guess is this was changed so that Bill & Ted did not become flat out killers.

A variation on a scene occurs when Bill & Ted meet Station in heaven. Rather than playing charades, they're running around in circles then jumping high in the air and landing flat on their heads. Bill and Ted join them in this game in order to win their friendship. Once again, Ted is very good at the game and enjoys it. Honestly, if this was in the original script I'd be really surprised. You can't film that. But I do think it creates a nice juxtaposition between these supposed geniuses and the way they act, on top of the speaking only one word problem.

The other main difference is Death. This Death is no where near as funny as the movie version. He's an indifferent jerk to them up until the van ride, where he suddenly becomes a sad sack desperately seeking their approval. He seeks their approval in the movie as well, but there's no comedic element about it in the novel. He's also at first really shy about going on stage, though he does eventually come to enjoy it. His rap is also much longer.

I love Rufus in the UPC box down there.

This comic book adaptation was done by Marvel Comics rather than DC. Unlike the other one, this one is a full 80 pages, though that does include ads. As such there's no trimming down like Excellent Adventure's comic, and in fact it includes all the deleted scenes mentioned above along with the alternate ending, though Station is just standing around in heaven in this one.

The absolute highlight of this comic is the artwork which was done by Evan Dorkin. He also did the writing, though once again he was mostly just pulling lines straight from the script. Evan Dorkin is perhaps most well known for his comic book Milk and Cheese, though he's apparently also done some writing for Adult Swim which fits in perfectly with the same sense of humor. I've personally never read any Milk and Cheese, but I remember them making frequent appearances in Wizard magazine back when I was heavy into collecting. While this is a good adaptation, Dorkin's style still clearly shines through. The art is more stylized than accurate likeness, but given the extremely cartoonish style of the movie I think it fits in just fine.

Because the book is so thick, I sadly can't provide you with any scans. I suppose I technically could, but I'm too much of a comic book geek to bend the spine while putting it on the scanner. I will allow you to make fun of me all you like for this. I think the cover does a good job of showing you the style anyway.

As you can see, Death is an actual skeleton in here. It's clear that either the full cast for the movie wasn't set or no one informed him what the actors looked like, because Ms. Wardroe is a young white girl and Colonel Oats looks nothing like he does in the movie. Little Bill and Little Ted are reversed, being juniors rather than named after their respective best friends as the movie suggests. One thing I do wish I could show you is the few written in jokes in the backgrounds of the comic. However, Evan Dorkin also wrote and drew Bill & Ted's Excellent Comic Book, and there will be plenty there for me to show you later. Before we can get to that, however, I've got a few more "unsavory" Bill & Ted adaptations to tell you about.

Next up: Season 2 of the animated series"

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