Vertigo's I, ZOMBIE: Eating Brains & Having A Big Heart
I, ZOMBIE - Eating Brains with Heart!
But is there room for a good zombie among them?
There is in I, Zombie, the quirky new Vertigo comic where the world is filled with bizarre paranormal creatures like werewolves, mummies and zombies. Written by Chris Roberson with art by Mike Allred, the comic focuses on a young zombie named Gwen who ends up using her brain-munching tendencies to help others.
"Gwen quickly learned that, unless she ate a human brain once a month, she would lose her own memories and personality and quickly become a shambling zombie straight out of a George Romero film," Roberson explained of the comic, which begins in May. "But she doesn’t want to hurt anyone, so instead of attacking the living, she gets a job as a gravedigger at an eco-friendly cemetery (because embalming fluid tastes icky), and once a month she sneaks in and digs up the freshest body for a quick bite."
"She finds herself compelled to finish any unfinished business that the dead person left behind," Roberson said. "If they were murdered, she has to solve the murder. If they never told their dad that they loved him, she has to track down their grieving parent and make amends. When the week is up, she has a few weeks of relative normalcy, but getting there can be a serious pain."
But the world of I, Zombie also has a host of other fun monster-types who serve as Gwen's supporting cast, including her best friend Ellie, a teenage ghost who died in the '60s, and their loyal buddy Spot, a "were-terrier" – something that's just a little different from a werewolf.
"Werewolves are people who find themselves overcome by the appetites and lusts of a wild animal," Roberson said. "When the moon is full, Spot finds himself overcome by the appetites and lusts of a well-behaved house pet. He gets all furry, has an extra bowl of food at dinner, and goes to sleep on the couch."
"Mike and I are trying to create as broad and as rich as a world as we can, and a huge part of that is populating the world of I, Zombie with our own take on every kind of monster we can think of," Roberson said. "The ones we meet in the first arc are just the tip of the iceberg. But we didn’t want to just shove monsters in there without rhyme or reason, and so I worked out a rationale that explains how all of the different types work and fit together. By the end of the first arc, readers will have been given the basic ground rules that underlie Gwen’s world, a basic mechanism that explains how normal people can become vampires, or werewolves, or zombies, or what have you."
The action starts off quickly when I, Zombie #1 is released on May 5th, as the issue opens with Gwen already being a zombie for a few months.
After the first story arc, Roberson and Allred will give readers a one-shot focusing on Spot, entitled "I, Were-terrier," the story of how an IT worker who loves video games and superhero comics was transformed into a half-man, half-terrier.
"Then in the second arc we’ll learn a bit more about Nemia and the other vampires at BloodSports, and we’ll also be introduced to a new member of the cast, our resident mad scientist," Roberson said. "In future arcs we’ll meet a Teen Frankenstein, a ghostly pulp avenger, a fish-man, cultists, secret agents, Soviet Zombie Super Soldiers, and so on. Oh, and a talking chimpanzee, naturally."
Roberson is hoping that, among all the zombie stories being published nowadays, I, Zombie has a different enough premise to make it stand out.
"And it probably goes without saying, but I’ll say anyway," Roberson added, "that this is the only zombie book I know of that is drawn by the lovely and talented Mike Allred!"
Roberson said he's a long-time fan of Allred's art and was enthusiastic when editor Shelly Bond said she thought someone like Allred would be good on the comic.
"She said, 'What about somebody like Mike Allred?' And I assumed she meant someone that drew like Mike Allred – some starving college kid who was as big of fan of Mike’s stuff as I am," Roberson laughed. "So naturally I said 'Sure!' Then later that day she called back and told me that Mike loved the idea and was onboard to draw it. I still haven’t quite recovered from that call.
Roberson, a long-time comics fan, wrote several novels and short stories before breaking into comics last year with the Vertigo mini-series, Cinderlla: From Fabletown with Love. While he said there's a possibility of another Fables-related project in his future, there's nothing to announce yet. "I’ve had an absolute blast working in the world of Fables, and would do it again in a heartbeat," he said.
As for I, Zombie, Roberson is trying not to think too much about what audience will end up reading the comic, but is instead just writing what he enjoys himself.
"I think it will appeal to two groups of people: Those who like zombie books, and those who don't like zombie books," he said. "There’s a lot going on in I, Zombie, and if a reader isn’t crazy about the kick-ass kung-fu scene, there’s a tender romantic moment in just a few more pages. Or if they get bored with the scene with two girls talking about their favorite kind of food, hang on a minute because one of them is about to eat a brain."
Besides, Roberson pointed out, the first issue is only a dollar. "Honestly, you’re losing money if you don't buy it."