The Shambling Dead
By Geoff Hobart
I'm no Andy Warhol. This is pretty easy to double-check with a Google search or, if you're remarkably ambitious, a credit check. In spite of that, like any artist worth his salt, I'll still take the occasional opportunity to ruminate on things I create, such as my work on Tachyon Punch. It's always the same tumble dry of thoughts rolling around in the back of my brain:
"How do I make this better?"
"Can I attract more readers?"
"Is this worth it?"
"Why are buffalo wing pretzel chips so good?"
"Do we have any pretzel chips?"
Fuck, I'm pretty sure I ate the last of the pretzel chips."
For over the 10+ years I've been working the various forms of Patches: The World's Cutest Zombie I watched the entire world slowly shuffle out of their caskets and begin to ravenously devour all things Zombie and Zombie-related. Not unlike your typical zombie outbreak, it started with small isolated incidents scattered around the world: George Romero, Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi, or Lucio Fulci. Small pockets of infected sprung up, hungry and glassy-eyed ravenously searching for more Zombie things. As the infection spread, it gained momentum. And into 2012, a world where you can't whirl an undead cat over your head without hitting some sort of zombie media or being bit by the cat.
A lot of zombie fans worry that we've reached our own zombie apocalypse in media-terms. The genre has become a ravaged wasteland peppered with small pockets of survivors among the ruins of a once great society. I've definitely experienced some incredibly vitriolic conversations with people who are beginning to get swept up in the proto-backlash that is forming now that zombies are becoming accessible to everyone-and-their-mother through franchises like, The Walking Dead and movies like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland are no longer special.
Though admittedly most of their complaints amount to the same sort of hipster litany you'll hear about anything that get's any modicum of widespread popularity.
"Zombies are so played!"
"I'm so sick of seeing fucking zombies everywhere."
"...Remember when zombies were cool?"
"How do you treat an undead cat bite?"
It could give me a moment's pause about Patches. Will people burn out on zombie stories and leave my poor little dingy to be swallowed by the sea of zombie bullshit? Maybe the genre will fade away entirely and there will be no place left for stories about living corpses. I doubt it. As a genre, as a horror entity, zombies live up to the hype. It will persist long after its death.
I think the reason for this is the very same reason I enjoy the genre so much in the first place. Zombies are the tofu of the horror genre. Tofu is an ingredient that, with a skilled hand, can be added to, cooked with or substituted for nearly anything while still remaining delicious. Zombies are the same way, if the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is any indication. Also like tofu, clumsy preparation will result in something bland, tasteless, and unpalatable. This is probably why tofu and zombies can get such a bad rap in certain circles.
But in the right hands this versatility with the Zombie genre is the very thing that will keep its rotting, bloated corpse shambling on in new and interesting ways and, if I play my cards right, maybe Patches: The World's Cutest Zombie and Wild Zero can be the forerunners of a new genre: Post-Zombie.
Unless they aim for the head.