Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gone Zombie/ sounds like an un-dead Alan Jackson song doesn't it?

As sure as the sun rises in the east, their will be a zombie comic on Zuda

Zuda comics in May: first up for review is Gone Zombie by Stephent, Slave2Robotz, and DrewMoore. [one of those 3 names is an alias, so who are your really DrewMoore, and what do you have to hide?] It surprised the hell out of me, but this -zombie- comic got 4/5 stars and a fav from me. Here is the synopsis: Kurt and his sister Nancy never really got along. They drifted even further apart after their parents died during “The Event” – when an unexplainable phenomenon brought the dead back to life and plunged the nation into months of terror that ended only when the undead were pushed back to a large quarantine zone. But the shock of the event spurred quasi-religious groups, derisively called “End Timers,” to seek out the undead in an unholy union where followers voluntarily – and sometimes involuntarily – submit to becoming undead themselves. Mentally and spiritually devastated by The Event and its Biblical ramifications, Nancy and her young son Billy fall in with one of these groups as it makes its way deeper into the quarantine zone. It’s up to Kurt to find them and get them out before they’ve “gone zombie.”

Part 2 of my view on zombie comics

I hate to self reference a former blog post, but for part 1 on my view of zombie comics check here. To expand on my knee jerk comments any zombie story that tries to start off with the mystery of 'the event' is heading down the wrong path with me. Like I said the longer the mystery of what caused the zombie outbreak builds, the expectations from readers build for the eventual payoff. After wormwood in Night of the Living Dead the payoff has never lived up to the expectations since. Last I checked The Walking Dead is still going with the don't reveal the cause of the outbreak option, which makes me go off on a rant. Robert Kirkman and others have shied away from revealing why because of one of two reasons: Number 1: They can't reinvent the wheel either it's some government created bio weapon gone wrong [sort of like The Stand only with zombies], It's supernatural/ or some other explanation we have seen before, or Number 2: They think they're doing the reader a favor. "It doesn't matter what caused the outbreak just come up with your own reasons readers whatever you think is right..." I do have an imagination which I use on a regular basis. I enjoyed the what's in the brief case mystery in Pulp Fiction, and filling in the blanks with my own ideas, I don't enjoy trying to fill in the blanks with what caused the brain eating plague. The difference being 'what's in the briefcase' is a fun little mystery for viewers that doesn't really have a grand effect on anything. It knows it's a McGuffin and is damn well treated like one. The 'I'm never telling' what caused the zombie outbreak mystery becomes a never ending excuse for bringing on scientists and soldiers for some pointless plot point action. If it was lab geeks gone wrong that surprises no one so why drag it out? If it's quasi-supernatural (Hello Wormwood) reveal that early on, cause again it will surprise no one. If it's aliens causing it, burn your script and forget you ever thought of it. The what caused 'the event' mystery is a McGuffin (to show it doesn't take much for human society to go feral) that doesn't know its place. This is aided and abetted by writers who don't come out and say zombie stories (unlike some other monster genres) aren't about the zombies at all, they're about the people who are still living trying to stay alive. If Stephen Thor had revealed the cause of 'the event' by the end of the eighth screen -hell even better in the first panel- this comic would be fighting it out for my vote. A zombie comic where the cause is revealed right from the start would be a twist I would love.

Assumed room temperature rape -Zuda crossing that PG-13 line

Was the dead world mention a reference to the comic. We finally see (on Zuda) necrophiliacs in a zombie story, it was the most disturbing and consequentially interesting part of the comic. Two stereotypical vile scum human bad guys have a naked zombie woman tied to a bed to rape and apparently pimp out if the opportunity presents itself. Not the sort of thing you generally expect to see on a Zuda comic. The panel composition and the pace from screens 3 to screen 5 are excellent. Take particular note of screen 4 panel 3 it's a panel open to an imaginative readers interpretation (I guess it's his sister's picture, but I don't know that), but whatever it is -it seals the deal on Kurt going back to take care of business. On screen 5 there are cut out panels (outside of the house) used with the blam sound effect. There was no real need to show the bullets impact, plus the last four panels help with the next screen transition, it's not so jarring time-wise. Kurt ends up dressing the zombie in a sheet, and leaves her, so that it can get free and go on looking for brains I guess? For some reason he leaves behind the gun, and doesn't rob the two dead evil human bastards for their weapons. First rule of a zombie apocalypse -get some guns and bullets- so didn't really get that. I also figure this will come back to haunt him...

So why wasn't this comic called end timers???

The other half of the story starts on screen 7 with Nancy and her son in crazy cult land. The kids are funny in spite of the circumstances playing who's afraid to touch the zombie. I liked the 'hello kitty cap the girl was wearing nice counter balance to being in zombie land. The dialogue between mother and son expressing their fears was very well done. The comic ended on a rather up-beat note for a zombie story, which also surprised me. The art/letter/story/colors are all well done. The dialogue for this comic was spot on. The art really served the story especially in the silent panels, impressive work. The letters were easily readable, so thanks for that. The colors didn't get too crazy just a nice professional looking job. The most impressive panel was #5 screen 8. Bonus points for awesomeness if the plan is to color the zombies different colors/ or different shades of green depending on how long they've been dead. Seeing the zombie arm sticking out of the cart I don't think that's what you have in mind. though.

Breaking the millstone of genre expectations

There's a number of ways to do it:

1. Have a zombie comic where we never actually see the zombies -ever!
2. a page one, or at least by page 8 reveal of what caused the zombie outbreak.
3. Make the comic be about, or partly about how animals deal with the zombie outbreak
4. Set it in a historical time period like for example: the dark ages.
5. At this point everyone expects at least one if not all of the leads in a zombie story to die, so surprise people by not killing them off -this would apply to Kurt, Nancy, and Billy in this case.
6. You know what people expect so just go against those expectations, no need to reinvent the wheel to have some good twists.
7. Create you own kind of monster that serves the same purpose, but isn't as easy for people to pigeon-hole. For example: a virus starts turning people into Lovecraft style monsters. You could have the same kind of story without the automatic zombie genre straitjacket/stigma.

Everything about this comic was very professional, but if it hadn't been on Zuda the zombie rapists wouldn't have been nearly as shocking to me as a reader. See the creators played on my Zuda PG-13 (more or less) expectations and surprised me. I know a lot of people do love zombie comics and they will love this, and vote for it -if they know where to find it. The creators got a 4/5 star and a fav from a zombie comic hater, and if it wins I will follow it despite my anti-zombie leanings.


  1. I thought it was an interesting read. I give it my vote for best thumbnail cause it was the first one I clicked on.

  2. Nice read. I finally had a moment to catch up on some of your posts and having gone down the zombie origin route myself I can honestly say it is a scary-complex-puzzle-enigma. Explaining the why in Zombie became explaining the why in creation. I kept throwing ideas into this pseudo-pit that kept eating and eating, but never defecating the answers I needed to relate a coherent, end all beginning to that awful frightening concept of a people-eating-people apocalypse. You, in general, come up with the origin of the virus that isn't camp or corn then you've got something fun and scary and real, an entire wheelhouse to explore human conflicts, which is really the metaphor of zombie. Faced with nastiness do we become nasty...too long has it been zombies are here, deal with it. Whaddya mean explain it? RUN! MOTHERFUCKER!

  3. One thing I want more of from zombie comics is interesting and diverse looking zombies. A lot of artists have fallen into a sort of "default zombie" design, and it's getting kinda boring. If I ever did a zombie comic the first thing I'd do is go to some of those gore sites and gather up all the pics I could find of real bodies in various states of decay. Our bodies go thru lots of funky changes after we die. Why not use some of them to make your zombies unique? Research never hurts, even when you're dealing with fantastical creatures.

  4. Steve makes yet another good point. Everyone knows charlie adlard and tony moore along with vince locke and Dalibor Talajic can draw zombies, lets see what you can do.
    I did some research online for my soon to be rewritten namesake of this blog's story, and found all kinds of disturbing pictures of people who met violent ends in various states of decomposition. it would of course make zombie stories better to have slightly more real looking zombies. Old crime comics and horror comics pre-code were more daring/ experimental in how they handled corpses wither they walked in the land of the living or not.

  5. You being the universal 'you' meaning anyone else anywhere else who wants to do a zombie comic- not just these creators. :)

  6. Same here. My comments weren't directed toward the creators of Gone Zombie, just generalized thoughts.

  7. RKB,

    Thanks for such a thoughtful post. It's guys like you that enrich the Zuda experience for creators and fans alike.

    I've never read Dead World, the comic you reference. Gone Zombie was, in fact, called Dead World in the early stages ... until I found out I was (really!) late to the punch on that one. End Timers isn't bad, but Gone Zombie -- a term that DOES appear in the comic, though not in the eight pages here -- just seemed more direct, what with "Zombie" in there and all.

    Your wrote, "I know a lot of people do love zombie comics and they will love this, and vote for it - if they know where to find it." Yeah, that's a big "if," isn't it? Still working on getting the word out, hustling where I can.

    Thanks, too, for noting the silent panels. This is a topic for another day, but I think wordless panels can convey as much as -- and sometimes more than -- panels packed with copy. A formative experience for me was reading through some old classics only to discover that they were so obscenely text-heavy that it detracted from my overall enjoyment of the title. In a visual medium, some folks should trust the "visual" more. Of course, it helps when you have a guy like Scott Wegener on board.

    Anyway, great post. Hope you get the chance to read more Gone Zombie in the future.