Saturday, October 10, 2015

So, Why Zombies?

Ever since Volume 1 of C'mon and Do The Apocalypse came out in 2012, we have been talking about putting out a follow-up. But then we got distracted by Trouble in the Heartland, and Why Don't I Just Shoot You in the Face. Those two books got Zelmer Pulp a good deal of attention, but we got off track. It was never supposed to be just about Noir. It was always about having fun.

And what could be more fun than a zombie apocalypse?

So, three years later, we've come full circle. Some fresh blood has joined us for this issue, and some old veterans have jumped into the fray to deliver their special brands of undead mayhem.

But why are we all so fascinated with zombies? I won't get into some sociological analysis about society at large, but for me, my love of zombies started back in 1987 when I saw Return of the Living Dead. That movie is the one that started the whole "Braiiiins" shtick. And running zombies. I love that flick. After that I sought out the source material, the Romero, Night-, Dawn-, and Day- of the Dead. Then, the Italian movies. Then, the comic Deadworld. (What can I say? I'm a completist in my research and entertainment.)

It was sometime that next year when I had a dream the zombie apocalypse. I was still in college, and I remember going after some walkers with a baseball bat in a suburban neighborhood. That dream stuck with me, and I kept kicking around story ideas based on those images.

After college, I was working hard at trying to break into the comic book industry and got connected to Caliber Press, the publisher behind Deadworld. Caliber published my first attempt at a comic book series, Petit Mal, and the publisher offered me the chance to work on a Deadworld revamp. So, Chuck being Chuck, I took it and ran into my cave and plotted out something insane that had very little to do with the original comic. I recalled that dream I had in college of me bashing zombie skulls with a baseball bat and extrapolated.

I extrapolated a little too much. I used none of the established characters, save for the eyeless, four-armed creatures that had accompanied the zombie king on his hunt for surviving humans. In my story, someone who believes himself to be the sole survivor of the zombie plague (ala I Am Legend) finds a terrified girl who carries the secret to why the zombies appeared. I got all mystical and reinvented a new mythology for the Deadworld universe, but the departure from the original comic was too dramatic. The publisher said a polite never mind, and I put the project, and the mythology, on the back burner.

Zombies, man. You can't keep a good zombie story down. It stayed, seething in my mind for more than a decade. I reworked that story in 2006 to disconnect it from the original thin ties to Deadworld, and started turning it into a graphic novel. Halfway through production (86 pages inked and colored of a 120-page story) I realized that my storytelling skills needed a kick in the balls. The ending wasn't satisfying. There were plot flaws and I had written distracting developments that went nowhere.

That's when I picked up my first book on plot development. And that's when I started taking writing more seriously.

Zombies are to blame for where I am today.