02 February 2012

Throwback Thursday: Bunnicula

Seriously, where did the green light for this book series come from? I'm certainly glad some genius editor had the foresight to publish this because how else could I have grown up with fears of a blood sucking bunny? How many people, when you read Bunnicula as kids, thought vampiric pets were actually biologically possible? Raise your hand higher!

Don't you miss the times when small domestic animals were the stars of books? Now it's all about teenagers with their super powers and secret histories. Ugh, homo sapiens, so over it. Give me a mouse on a toy motorcycle any day.

If you'll recall, the original Bunnicula was subtitled "A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery." Thrilling for 1979 but not so exciting now; nobody cares about rabbit mysteries anymore. (Well, unless you count Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.) Taking a cue from the way Hollywood recycles nostalgia, and the recent success of monster mashups like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it's inevitable that all those crapclassic books we read growing up will soon receive similar makeovers.

Inspired by a long drive up to L.A. in traffic, I thought I'd jump ahead of the slow-footed execs and suggest my version of a Bunnicula redo for the current publishing climate.

Betsy is a young lab-raised rabbit who has never seen sunlight, tasted fresh grass, or left the confines of her cage except to receive injections of promising superdrug Strangé. After giving birth to a litter of babies, Betsy dies and is discarded by the human researchers. The next morning, Chester and Harold, a street wise cat and dog duo, are digging through the trash when they find a revived and weakened Betsy. Having never seen anything as pure and beautiful as a white bunny before, gruff but softhearted Harold convinces Chester to let him take the rabbit home.

Despite his best efforts, Harold can't nurse Betsy back to health. Even with chocolate cupcakes. When a rival gang attacks, Chester and Harold are desperately outnumbered but saved by a suddenly very alive Betsy, who has gone into a blood frenzy and kills Odie, the leader of the (other) pack. With their top dog gone, gone, gone, the surviving motley crew of cats and pigeons slink/scamper/crawl/fly/two-step away.
Stunned by the transformation of their ward, Chester and Harold are now afraid of the death bunny. They are about to leave her -- still sucking on Odie's neck -- when Betsy pleads with them to stay. Communicating images and emotions via touch, Betsy shows Chester and Harold the laboratory and the cruel testing she had to endure there.

Moved by her tale, Chester and Harold agree to help Betsy rescue her children. While still not fully understanding Betsy's condition, they work around her blood lust by feeding her non-organic fruits and vegetables (the synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers keep her strong). The main hurdle they encounter is that Betsy's animal nature is to be prey. Aside from that first desperate battle, Betsy's instincts are to zig zag and run around in circles. And to cower in fear.
While this passivity proved useful in the evolutionary survival of her order, Betsy needs Chester and Harold to give her lessons in offensive snarling, pouncing, swatting, and using her tiny fangs and oversized ears as weapons. The three friends will have to work together to infiltrate the lab and then lead the fight against animal experimentation. Coming to you this summer: Bunnicula Begins!
If anyone wants to go ahead and buy this right now, it's an almost complete WIP of about 350+ words, with merchandising rights also available immediately. And could someone else please redo Little House on the Prairie as dystopian?

Actually, if late 1800's Kansas wasn't already a dystopia, then I read Laura Ingalls Wilder all wrong.