Zombie Comics, or Two Ways of Saying “Arrrrrgh”
With all the hoopla over vampires (i.e. Twilight) lately, you'd think that people were starting to forget all about the other major threat to our existence- I'm talking, of course, about zombies here. Fortunately there's several quality graphic novel series that help underscore just how serious the zombie menace is. I'll be looking at two very different titles in this post: The Walking Dead series, and Eric Powell's Eisner Award-winning slapstick gore-fest The Goon. (A word of warning: readers with an existential fear of returning from the grave with an unnatural hunger for brains should skip down to Karen’s excellent post on Francisco X. Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World.)
The Walking Dead is the most straightforward, classic us-versus-zombies title of the bunch. While it owes a huge debt to George Romero’s Living Dead films, it goes much further in it’s depiction of what the long-term effects of a total zombie takeover might be like on society. Fighting off hordes of the undead is one thing, but things really get nasty when different factions of the human survivors begin turning on one another for control of the few remaining resources. Due to a totally unflinching and ultra-graphic depiction of life after the zombie apocalypse, The Walking Dead is not recommended for the squeamish.
The Goon, on the other hand, takes the classic zombie menace theme, bolts on a cast of hard-boiled gangsters, werewolves, Spanish-speaking mutant lizard-men and other assorted bizarre characters; adds a dash of 1950’s science-fiction; and sets the whole mess in an unidentified Prohibition-era port city. It’s a formula that just shouldn't work, but yet totally does. The Goon is a musclebound mob enforcer who happens to live in a city infested with zombies(the zombies have their own section of town on the wrong side of tracks). With his sidekick Franky (a short, skinny loudmouth whose favorite fighting technique is called “Knife to the Eye”, for good reason), The Goon protects his city against the forces of the Nameless Zombie Priest by any means necessary, which usually involves lots of Warner Brothers-style violence and destruction.
The Goon is also not recommended for the easily-offended, due not only to the typical zombie blood and guts, but also some crude humor. Fans of Sin City, MAD Magazine, or Hellboy will love it. As an extra bonus, Goon creator Eric Powell is working on a big-screen animated version, due out sometime in 2010.
Remember, kids: Vampires come and go, but zombies are forever… or at least until someone removes their heads.