Revamping Vampires

The Lampoon investigates fantastical creatures and flies out to Washington in the name of comedy.

Devoted fans of “Twilight” eager to quench their vampire thirst may not have to wait an entire month for the next movie installment in the series. The Harvard Lampoon, a semi-secret Sorrento Square organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine, has been working with Vintage Press, the publisher of “Twilight”, on “Nightlight”, a book parody of the vampire-human romance set to release November 3—fortunately for crazed fans, only two weeks away.

“Nightlight” is the Lampoon’s spin on the awkward-girl-meets-dreamy-vampire series created by Stephanie Meyer that has taken the tween, teen, and even some of the adult market by storm.

Taking obvious to a whole new level, the character Edwart Mullen is based on Meyer’s Edward Cullen, who made pale skin, fangs and a thirst for blood sexy. Belle Goose, the new girl in “Nightlight” is similarly obviously based on Meyer’s Bella Swan. Just as the new names mirror the original, there are some pretty obvious parallels between the two plots.

The Bella in Twilight observes Edward’s inhuman characteristics—his lack of appetite, ability to save her from a swerving car, and stunning physical appearance—and concludes that he is a vampire. The Belle in Nightlight observes similar “inhuman” traits in Edwart and decides that he’s a vampire after he saves her from a snowball and (gasp!) does not finish his tater tots in the cafeteria.

PRAISE IS HUMOR

“Nightlight” isn’t the Lampoon’s first attempt at longer length parodies. Back in 1969, they transformed J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” into the shorter, more comical “Bored of the Rings.” When asked what inspired the writers to create “Nightlight,” they revealed that for over a year and half now, they have enjoyed “Twilight” and to the point of deciding to create their own version.

However, despite the satire, Nathaniel H. Stein ’10 reveals that they don’t dislike or bash “Twilight.”

“We’re all into ‘Twilight’ and think it’s a worthwhile literary achievement.” In fact, he says, “Our praise is humor. It’s our language.”

HUMOR IS WORK

Writing the “Twilight” parody took a lot more than imagination. Before they could start writing the book, the writers spent time researching the book, the characters, and Meyer herself.

Writers had to reread “Twilight” and get a good grip on the material. Some even read the novel three times. They also had to take notes to discuss during editorial meetings.

The writers also investigated every aspect of the book, from the fantastical creatures to the novel’s setting of Forks to Bella’s backpack (yes, they looked at catalogs). “There’s no detail in the work that isn’t researched,” Stein says.

Lampoon President, Matthew K. Grzecki ’10, gave some insight into the extent of the Lampoon’s preparations. “Over the summer, John [B. Owen ’10] and I, we’d basically wake up every morning and go to Widener Library and go to the stacks and read about vampires,” he says. Beyond merely hitting the books, they also engaged in some practical research. A few members of the Lampoon made a trip to Forks in Washington and went on a tour. “We had to live ‘Twilight’ for a while,” Grzecki says.

They also researched Meyer’s background. Although unable to speak to Meyer herself, the Lampoon contacted some of her professors from her time at Brigham Young University. According to Owen, they learned that Meyer likes comedy and took some comedy classes—classes that will hopefully help her appreciate the Lampoon’s parody of her work.

After all of this research, the Lampoon wrote “Nightlight.” The writers used the “corpse” method, in which they sat at a table and went around saying one word at a time forming the story. After many, many hours of “corpsing” and some editing, the 160 page book was created.

HOPING FOR A HIT

As November 3 approaches, “Twilight” fans are getting ready to either love or hate the parody of their beloved Edward and Bella.

New York Times bestselling author and publicist for “Nightlight” Sloane B. Crosley is excited for the book’s release.  She calls the material “its own animal” and expects fans to love it. Although these books may not rank high in the world of literary genius, “When you’re reading something like ‘Twilight’, you sort of recognize how you’re being pleasantly manipulated, and you agree to go along with it,” Crosley says. “You make a deal: ‘Okay I’m not going to be reading Shakespeare now. I’m going to be reading this fast-paced salacious thing.’”

But will “Twilight” fans truly appreciate the satire? Thejal Srikumar ’13, whose favorite “Twilight” character is Alice Cullen, thinks “Nightlight” will be a hit. She says, although “some people might take [“Nightlight”] too seriously...the actual story itself isn’t supposed to be real in any way shape or form.” We’ll see in two weeks whether diehard fans agree.

Tags