It’s February and you all know what that means: Valentine’s Day… and, of course Valentine’s Day means zombies! Yeah, I know, there’s a bit of a stretch but this year is different with the release of the movie Warm Bodies which, honestly, I’m a little concerned with. That last thing I want is my beloved zombie genre to be infected with the hated Twilight virus which make monsters into objects of romance. But the horror of turning monsters into lovable creatures is a topic for another day. Today we take a look at REAL zombies. Not the kind whose heart begins to beat again because they saw some girl, no, these are the kind of zombies who prefer the beating heart to be in their hand… after they’ve ripped it out of the girl’s chest.
Today I dig deep into my collection for a zombie miniseries from the fine folks at IDW. You see, way back in 2006 they began to publish comics about zombies and this is the very first one:
ZOMBIES! FEAST began in May of 2006 and concluded its 5-issue run in October of 2006. It was written by Shane McCarthy with interior art by Chris Bolton (issues 1, 2, and 4) and Enrigue Lopez Lorenzana (issues 3 and 5) and had some amazing Chris Bolton & Ted McKeever covers which were all wraparound and when placed end to end created one long zombie picture.
The story doesn’t really tell much about how the zombie thing started or how wide-spread it is, which is fine because that never really matters to me, it focuses on a bus full of criminals being transferred. Of course, they are supposed to be the worst of the worst. While on their way someone wanders into the road and to avoid hitting this person the bus wrecks and kills the driver.
From here the group tries to find its way to a town or, at the very least a phone, to find help and a way to get the criminals to a place where they can’t hurt anyone. Their journey takes them to a farmhouse that has seen better days. It’s here that we begin to realize that something is wrong and to go along with that we lose a few people, including the officer in charge of this operation.
Things begin to pick up when the rag-tag group locates a small town and sees that it’s over-run with zombies. While running through the town they meet up with a small group of survivors and some of the criminals revert back to type while others see this as their chance at redemption. This was the one thing that stood out aver all these years: the characterization. While some of the characters are less than developed, there are many who are and you can see their evolution in this end-of-the-world situation. There are some of these criminals that, when they die, you actually feel bad for because they were really trying to be better people in the end. As the story progresses, however, the question really becomes ‘who is going to survive this?’ and the last issue naturally answers that question in a classic horror comic way. And by classic horror comic I mean EC comics of course. While many will see the ending long before we get there, it’s still a kick in the head. Beyond that, I really can’t say too much about the story, it really isn’t a new concept, humans trying to survive the zombie apocalypse, but any fan of the genre will tell you while the basics are the same, it’s how the individual characters react that make things interesting. I’ve also long wondered if this story, and the ones that followed, take place in IDW’s Zombies Vs. Robots reality. Certainly the argument could be made…
On the art side, well, the art is a lot more shaky. Bolten’s art is a lot more solid and fits the tone of the book far better than Lorenzana’s but honestly I think that’s more due to him coming in part way instead of doing art on the full story. Had he done the whole thing it wouldn’t have made such an impact. But the interior art is outshined by the covers, Those gorgeous zombie covers. They connect and become one long picture, sort of like the zombies that grace the lower portions of the covers of trades for The Walking Dead. Even after all these years, the covers for this story are still some of my all time covers for independent zombie comics.
I think it’s also interesting how these days when a new zombie comic is announced people who write about such things are always quick to call the zombie comic genre ‘tired’ or ‘long since dead’ but they obviously aren’t paying attention because while we do have a lot of bad zombie comics, there are many more good to great zombie books out there. This one came out in 2006- almost 7 years ago. This shows me that, if done right, zombie comics can go for a very long time. Naturally, I’m a little biased in this thinking because I love the zombie concept and support the good stuff all I can while ignoring the crap (like the upcoming World War Z movie) But if you are interested in checking out some older zombie stuff, and willing to forgive some aging in the writing and art, then I could honestly suggest Zombies! Feast. There was a follow-up called Eclipse Of The Dead which ran for four issues but a third story, Hunters, abruptly ended before being competed (to the best of my knowledge, that is) but Eclipse is a worthy follow-up to this one, as I remember it, and may end up in a future It Came From The Longbox!