I'm looking for a suitable word.

A parody is a work that references some other work by making fun of it, usually having similar setting and characters but comic outcome.

What if the referencing work is not intended to be funny? For example, I'm just reading a comic clearly referencing some other comic but turning story originally intended for kids much more realistic, gitty and simply gruesome. Is there a word in English describing such a work?

Edit: After reading a few suggestions I noticed one subtlety I intended to express. Just like in the case of parody I'd like to indicate a sense of discussion with the original work. It's something I have an impression is missing in case of remake or rework.

  • 1
    Well, 'imitation' might suit you, but even though a 'parody' is frequently comic, it is not necessarily so.
    – JEL
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 8:32
  • Well, Merriam-Webster says about parody: "a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule"
    – Kalmar
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 8:36
  • 2
    Yes...ridicule and satire are often deadly serious, not at all comic.
    – JEL
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 8:40
  • 1
    I can't think of a single-word answer, but in this instance, does 'darker retelling of xxx comic' work? Otherwise it might be 'inspired by xxx', 'derivative of xxx', or as you have already suggested it could be 'a story which references xxx'.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 10:01
  • 1
    How about "homage?"
    – Elijah
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 13:04

6 Answers 6


A reinterpretation? Reinterpret:

to understand and explain or show (something) in a new or different way


to make changes to (something, such as a piece of writing or music) in order to improve it.


restart or revive (a process or sequence, especially a series of films or television programmes); give fresh impetus to.


  1. an artistic work in a style that imitates that of another work, artist, or period.

  2. an artistic work consisting of a medley of pieces imitating various sources.

  3. imitate the style of (an artist or work).


a gesture of acknowledgement or concession to.

"the device is a nod to the conventions of slapstick"


a person or thing having the characteristics of a former time.

"a lot of his work is a throwback to the fifties"

All definitions sourced from the Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English, provided by Google, or Merriam-Webster.

  • Your definitions of pastiche make clear that it is about style rather than content. The OP is specifically about a case where the style is what has changed ie that element of the story are retold in a different style.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 9:57
  • Ah, my bad. I've also seen pastiche defined as a piece of writing, music, etc., that is made up of selections from different works. I don't know if that refers to a compilation or a work which imitates the content of multiple other sources, although of course only one source is imitated in the asker's example. Anyway, I've added some more options. Now that I think about it, reinterpretation is used often in this context. @Spagirl Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 10:25

Consider recast.

Recast verb 1.1 Present or organize in a different form or style. ‘his doctoral thesis has been recast for the general reader’ - ODO

You can say that the original story was "recast for a more sombre audience".


I think grim parody is about as close as you will get.

From Hilltop Views online:

Banksy’s newest British exhibition a grim parody of Disneyland’s image

... It’s a theme park on the southwest coast of England, and the theme is doom and gloom — a grim parody of Disneyland, with dreary-looking rides, depressed employees garbed in Disney character costumes and carnival games that only cynics enjoy.

Banksy, along with over 50 other artists worked on Dismaland Bemusement Park for months; it was finally opened to the public on Aug. 22 and will remain so until Sept. 27, according to CNN arts reporter Allyssia Alleyne.

The cost? Five bucks.

The draw? “A chaotic new world where you can escape from mindless escapism,” reads Dismaland’s brochure.

The park and the art pieces inside stink of realism.

In contrast to Disney’s “It’s a wonderful life; You can do anything” message, Banksy’s artwork says bleakly, “Stop dreaming.”


Perhaps Remake might suit your purposes. According to Wikipedia,

A remake is a film or television series that is based on an earlier work and tells the same story.

This doesn't mean that the story or the characters are exactly the same. For example, 10 Things I Hate About You is a 'remake' of the Shakespeare play The Taming Of The Shrew; while the movie is in the genre of 'romantic comedy' it does not ridicule or parody (in the modern sense) the original work.

Even though you are talking about a graphic novel and not a film or TV series, I think you could legitimately say that one is a remake of the other.

  • Still, I have an impression remake indicates a fairly close following of the original story. The definition you quote says it tells the same story anyway and I would expect a different setting, some minor threads altered, removed or added, but the main plot remaining the same. Would it still be remake of Romeo and Juliet if nobody died?
    – Kalmar
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 11:22

Okay, so this question is super old now, but:

reimagining (gerund of reimagine)

Reinterpret (an event, work of art, etc.) imaginatively.


Cruel Intentions is a present-day reimagining of Dangerous Liaisons.

Dracula 3000 is a reimagining of Bram Stoker's literary classic Dracula, set in the 31st century.


'intertextuality' in critical theory is a useful term sometimes as an act of imitation, but more accurate is the use of 'appropriation', much used in postcolonial criticism. You will come across, for instance, "the writer appropriates the Arabian Nights style as an existentially redemptive form of storytelling" etc.

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