Veteran comic and video game writer Joshua Ortega (Gears of War), Kevin Eastman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Digger T. Mesch (creator of Mini-Mates and co-founder of Art Asylum) and artist Qing Ping Mui are putting humans back in the middle of the food chain. Their new comic, The Other Dead, due in Spring of 2013 puts a new spin on an undead apocalypse. Newsarama chewed the ear of Ortega and picked his brain for some details.Newsarama: Josh, what are readers going to see in your new Zombie comic that will keep them coming back?
Joshua Ortega: Oh man, what aren't they going to see? [laughs] This book's going to have a lot of things going for it: fast-paced action-horror, amazing art, memorable characters, sex and over-the-top gore, political commentary, toys and collectibles, a hardcover art book, and even the President of the United States…and of course, the big kicker: Zombie. Animals. Hell, if that doesn't keep 'em coming back well, guess it's just not their kind of book!
Nrama: Where did you get the idea? (Hopefully not from a bad restaurant experience)
Ortega: There was this one time in Yazoo City, Mississippi, actually, but no, the idea actually was initially Digger T. Mesch's; he shared the concept and characters with me and Kevin, then we ran with it, putting a bunch of different elements into it and really fleshing out the tone of the story and the characters. But Dig did a great job from the start, gave us a great foundation, and he and I and Kevin work on everything very closely. We enjoy working together, so it makes the creative process a smooth one.Nrama: How is the story going to be structured, whose perspective is going to be driving the action?
Ortega: I don't want to say too much about it at this stage, but our main cast will feature Tommy, a 12-year old cancer survivor; his brother, Azazael, a member of the Norwegian-like death metal band Decapitation; Az's girlfriend, Justina Abelinda, a stripper who knows a little something about brujeria; Chet Wayne, a cajun ex-Army Ranger, and, last but not least: the President. Yeah, the President. You'll be glad you voted for him
Nrama: Did you have to do any special research or work to try to get into the head of say, a zombie cow?
Ortega: Just drinking a daily kombucha made with BSE cultures from mad cows, that's about it. Seems to give me some good ideas, though the fever dreams are kinda strange, guess everything's material though, right?
Nrama: Are you handling the writing chores by yourself?
Ortega: Yeah, though Digger and Kevin and I created the story together, I'm writing the entire script, and letting the other guys focus on what they do best: Kevin with art, and Digger with collectibles, toys, statues, and the like.Nrama: What can you tell us about relative newcomer Qing Ping Mui?
Ortega: We are incredibly fortunate to have [him] on pencils and inks, and I'm telling you, this guy's work on this book is just phenomenal. Some people saw his work on Doc Savage and Grim Ghost, but as the saying goes, you ain't seen nothing yet. This guys is turning in the work of his young career, we're all pumped every week to see the new pages come in, it's like Christmas all the time except delivered by Qing.
Nrama: When will it hit shelves, and what kind of response are you expecting?
Ortega: The book will be out Spring 2013. [A] publisher to be announced soon, [the] contracts still being signed, and honestly, we're expecting a big response to the book. It definitely helps that Kevin and I have great fan-followings from being creators on TMNT and Gears of War, respectively, and I think the zombie animal angle is just killer, pun intended. Plus, we have well over 15 high-profile and superstar artists doing pin-ups and/or covers, so that's gonna be a real treat for readers as well. We're all incredibly excited about this book, and we're planning on showing more of the book around NYCC time, we'll keep you posted, and in a few months, start checking out theotherdead.com for regular updates on the book!