Print Story Gambling Blues
By Christopher Robin was Murdered (Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 05:49:17 AM EST) (all tags)
Mindless horde of lifeless comic books. Event from "Random Encounters: Deli" table. Free book.


    Wednesday was new comic day. Baring weather or national holiday, your local comic purveyors stock all the new junk on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

    The particular Wednesday, there were four significant zombie-related titles hitting the racks. First, a new issue of IDW's Zombies, featuring a group of criminals as prison guards fighting off hordes of zombies. We also got the first issue of Marvel's Zombie, featuring criminals and civies and National Guardsmen fighting off hordes of zombies. The fifth volume of Image's The Walking Dead came out. This features criminals, civies, and cops fighting off hordes of zombies. Finally, there was the Marvel Essentials collection of the 70s cult classic Tales of the Zombie which featured the on-going adventures of Simon Garth, zombie hero.
    This list doesn't cover the recently released Recess Pieces, which is Day of the Dead in a grade school, or Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse, a continuing series about a zombified monster-hunter. Or the recent Marvel Zombies mini-series (no relation to the Marvel series mentioned above). Or Dark Horse's Zombie World. Or the two Romero series: the comic adaptation of his Land of the Dead and the original Toe Tags. Or the deadite filled Army of Darkness series. Or . . . well, enough already, you get the idea.
    Like the zombies that fill all these comics, the titles them selves just keep coming and coming. And, unfortunately for readers, just like zombies, the titles also tend to be an un-individuated mindless mass. Certainly there are small differences – these guys are US Army while those guys are National Guardsmen – but, for the most part, they follow the standard plot: group of individuals who cannot work together get trapped and surrounded by zombies. Can they pull together before they are literally pulled apart? (This is when the books have a plot. Some, like the Marvel mini-series, simply roll on the strength of the fact that we'll pay money to watch super-powered ex-hero zombies feed on one another.)

    Here's the deal. I'm getting tired of zombies.

    Let's step back for a moment and look at horror comics in general. After several decades of limping along as a minor sideline to the dominant superhero franchises, horror comics are back in a big way. I'm going to go out on a limb and some credit to Steve Niles's 30 Days of Night, a mini-series involving a gang of vampires attacking an isolated Alaska town during their long and sunless winter. This comic (soon to be adapted into a flick as all comics are now required by law to be) helped revive the funny book horror market. Other, more general trends, played important an important as well: a sudden surge in quality horror films, the growth and mainstreaming of Goth subculture, the rise in popularity of manga horror titles, the aging of the comic buying demographic etc. The end result, regardless of the precipitating factors, is that horror comics are now a sizable market trend for the first time since the 1950s.
    Let's peg the start of this revival to the late 90s. This is us just talking, so there's no need to be militant about the exact dates. In the late 90s, we had fewer titles, but, I'd argue, more variety. Horror comics, twitching back to life after their long slumber, were all over the map. The work of Steve Niles is emblematic in this regard. In his short career, Niles has cranked out vampire stories, a noir detective camp horror series, a 70s-style splatter-fest featuring a gang of biker Satanists, a mini-series featuring a Japanese-style giant monster fighting a enormous Nazi robot, a Bigfoot story, and so on. None of these was so original that we couldn't find prior examples of the idea in the larger genre of horror, but most of them were creative and horrific enough to satisfy. More to the point, they showed a sort of love for the genre in general, a restless need to range over the entire variety of the horrific.

    But these days, everybody is rushing to crank out zombie books and the scary section of the funny book shop is beginning to look like a production still from a Romero film: zombies as far as the eye can see. This isn't to say that there aren't good zombie books out there. The Walking Dead is exception not only for its excellent zombie action, but also for taking the zombie genre in directions it could only go in a long-series comic format. And sure you can still find non-zombie related titles (like the vampire/pirate series Sea of Red or Marvel's House of Poe mini-series). But increasing amounts of shelf space are taken up by monotonously mediocre zombie books, all of which come from this sort of high concept horror hell where they take Night of the Living Dead and simply swap characters or setting. You can almost imagine a sort a Mad-Libs style zombie comic book plot generator: Zombies attacking [demographic group] who are trapped in a/on a [set].
    Seriously, try it:
    Zombies attacking cheerleaders who are trapped in a football stadium.
    Zombies attacking hack sci-fi writers who are trapped in a convention hall.
    Zombies attacking elderly retired insurance executives who are trapped on a cruise ship.
    Zombies attacking people dressed like zombies who are trapped on a movie set.
    Zombies attacking the rock group Alabama who are trapped on a rollercoaster.
    Zombies attacking the Latvian Football Federation who are trapped in a Pink Taco just outside of Orem, Utah.
    Actually, that's kind of fun, and might explain why people are so drawn to create zombie stories. But imagine that we went on through a couple hundred more iterations. It would get monotonous. It also builds up until you feel it is simply unnecessary. Most of these zombie projects are short mini-series that could, one feels, be better done as a movie (perhaps that's the goal of the creators, not to make a great comic, but to make something a movie producer would pay to adapt). Few really take advantage of the things comics can do. The Walking Dead, for example, uses the distinct format of a monthly series to tell stories your standard two-hour film could not. It is the zombie story that can only be done in comics, and therefore feels vital to the medium.

    Now I dig zombies as much as the next guy. Some of my friends and co-workers seem to be zombies. But I think the market is getting zombied out. Let's bench the corpses for a while. They've done good, let 'em rest. Call in the werewolves or the giant insects or Martian invaders. When was the last really good Martian invasion?


    Last night, on the way home from work, I stopped at the Key Foods to pick up something for dinner. As it was just going to be me, my ingredient list wasn't very inspiring: pasta, olive oil, parmesan. I'm a simple and dull fellow in many ways.

    In the deli section, picking up some the grated parmesan, a young woman approached me. She had bright purple hair. Wore a black dress that looked like some punk rock reworking of Dorothy's outfit from the Wizard of Oz. Combat boots, green and black striped socks.
    She stood next to me and started sorting through plastic-wrapped wedged of Drunken Goat.
    "Um. Hi."
    "Could you look over my shoulder and tell me if there's a guy following me?"
    "You're kidding?"
    "No. Like for real. Skinny guy. Pale. Bright red hair."
    I looked and didn't see anybody. At least no long lanky dudes with bright red hair.
    "I think you're in the clear."
    "You think? You aren't sure?"
    "No, I'm pretty sure. Well, there's nobody with red hair."
    "Bright red hair, like fire engine red hair."
    "Definitely no fire engine red hair."
    "Okay." She quit playing with the cheese and walked off.

Free Stuff

    Time Out declared his book "the most fashionable novel of the early '70s" and dubiously literate Loaded Magazine called him "The Novelist of the Century." Seriously, century. In your face Joyce!
    He's the completely obscure Luke Rhinehart and the novel was The Dice Man: a dark satiric comedy involving a shrink who, finding Western psychology and Eastern mysticism equally unfulfilling, decides to start living his life according to random throws of the dice. Soon his experiment with chance becomes a cult, a sort of faithless, nihilistic religion. Unfortunately, his growing popularity at "The Dice Man" put him at odds with the FBI, the Black Panthers, various religious leaders, numerous mental health service providers, and others. The Houston Post compares it to Catch-22, if the literary opinions of Texans hold any weight with you.

    Now I know you're a well-read person. We all are. And you're thinking to yourself, "How is it possible that I've never heard of the Novelist of the Century? Does this point to some glaring gap in my literary upbringing? All this time have I been suffering under the delusion that I'm a literate individual when, in fact, I am the laughing stock of the lettered classes and the oafish buffoon of salon society?"

    The answers to these questions are, in order, I don't know, yes it does, and yes you have.

    But fear not, CRwM is going to fix that right now. The first person to contact me by PM will get what reliable authorities inform me is the most fashionable novel of the early '70s: The Dice Man.

    Now how much would you expect to pay? Don't tell me just yet – there's more. For a limited time, you get not only the words that Rhinehart wrote, but they will come on "pages" of thin wood pulp. These "pages" will be held in sequential order by a handsome "spine" and sandwiched between not one, but two paperback covers! You can't beat that with a stick. And it is all yours for nothing. That's right. No cost. Nada. Zip. Zilch-o-reeno. Gratis. Like, Freesville, you dig, man?

    Offer limited while supplies last (I've got one copy). Offer only good in the continent of North America. Act now.

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Gambling Blues | 30 comments (30 topical, 0 hidden)
My theory: You look old and fatherly by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #1 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 05:58:29 AM EST
and safe enough for a anxious young thing to approach you. At least you don't appear to be a serial killer.

I don't follow comics (though I went into a comics store last Saturday looking for a gift for my friend who's into wrestling and comics) but I would be puzzled by the zombie thing.

I can't imagine you can do a whole lot with them, they're not as cunning or as adaptable as vampires, or as insidious as werewolves, you just have a lot of them coming after you, in human wave fashion. Now, in the height of the Cold Wars, waves of inhuman unstoppable zombies may have fit the zietgiest, but today?

it's the lurching gait.. by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #3 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 06:04:14 AM EST
Though I haven't played in a long time, there is an online RPG for zombies,

But, I think the catch with the stagnant plot lines is just that -- you have to be trapped in somewhere for the zombie to get you. I mean, even in hordes, they only move so fast. A normal human could easily escape from the zombies. Thus you need a contained area for the plot to work out. The shopping mall (in Pittsburgh, been there), raccoon complex underground, etc.

[ Parent ]
Sobering thought. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 06:26:47 AM EST
I've lost that crucial hint of danger that is so critical to an effectively attractive masculine image.


I thought you were supposed to be my friend, Mr. Ha.

As for the zombie thing, I can see the attraction. Stuggle of the individual versus the undifferentiated masses, mindless followers of tech or adverts or politicians. Seems fairly universal. The problem I have is with the monotony of the actual stories. How many of the same, "If we can just hold out until X" plots do we need.

[ Parent ]
Maybe, but you can cultivate a protective masculi by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #12 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 06:46:29 AM EST
nity. You don't really want to be that guy, the one with the balding head and ponytail in new black leather on a new Harley he rides only on Sunday, do you? Compared to that, the transplanted Southern Gentleman doesn't sound so bad.

I wonder if Any Rand wrote any zombie stories?

[ Parent ]
She Did by Improbus (2.00 / 0) #13 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 07:03:22 AM EST
It is called Atlas Shrugged.  With the general populace playing the part of the zombies.

If you immediately know the candlelight is fire, the meal was cooked a long time ago. --- Oma Desala
[ Parent ]
The formula is: by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 2) #17 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 07:34:27 AM EST
Zombies attacking Frank Lloyd Wright who is trapped in a political manifesto.

[ Parent ]
Heh by hulver (4.00 / 1) #14 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 07:14:58 AM EST
There's a certain irony in the case of everybody following the pack and producing zombie comics.
Cheese is not a hat. - clock
[ Parent ]
We'll see who wins the book by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #2 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 06:02:00 AM EST
I can only hope..

As for the lass, maybe it was a pickup line ? "Be my strong protector man, save me from the creepy red-haired stalker".. Rise to the occasion and what not.

And I think MNS might tell you that Zombies can never be passe. Only thing better than zombies are robot zombies with lazers!

Heck, even Stephen King wrote a zombie book in "Cell". Though a very odd take on the zombie genere (or maybe not..), it was an entertaining story, though maybe not high lit.

You win! by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #5 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 06:15:01 AM EST
It didn't seem like much of a pick up line, as you think that'd be followed with a "Thank goodness he's gone. Would you please walk me home, to make sure I'm safe." And so on.

Would Cell be worth reading even if you aren't really a King fan? I'm curious about it, but have never really got into King's books.

[ Parent ]
His books are an easy read by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #15 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 07:16:12 AM EST
but the characters and plot are some times rough, or the dialogue can be very strained. Read it like a beach book or fun reading and you're OK.

The premise is sorta lame, but has a strangely alluring "28 days later" feel to it as well.

[ Parent ]
Wouldn't Pet Cemetary also count? by lm (4.00 / 1) #16 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 07:23:31 AM EST

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
not all undead are zombies. by garlic (2.00 / 0) #23 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 08:44:55 AM EST

[ Parent ]
That is true by lm (2.00 / 0) #24 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 08:57:49 AM EST
But the undead in Pet Cemetary are pretty damn close to the original zombie mythos minus the element of control the Voodoo priest had over his re-creation.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
The Dice Man by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #4 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 06:10:30 AM EST
Is not one of literature's all-time greatest novels by any means, but it certainly makes you think.

It's political correctness gone mad!

Consider the source. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #6 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 06:17:37 AM EST
I'm not sure why Loaded even bothered to select a "Novelist of the Century." This is the same rag that gives out the prestigious "Rear of the Year" award. Doesn't seem like the two titles appeal to the same demographic.

[ Parent ]
I dunno by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 06:24:25 AM EST
I don't like regular award winner Zadie Smith's writing but certainly wouldn't kick her out of bed.

It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
She gives good jacket photo . . . by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #10 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 06:30:02 AM EST
But "Rear of the Year"? I don't think she stands a chance.

Not all the clever, multi-culti, neo-Dickensian prose in the world can make your ass look better. I know. I've tried.

[ Parent ]
She was trying to pick you up by DullTrev (4.00 / 3) #8 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 06:25:07 AM EST

You should have offered to walk her home.

And I already have a copy of Dice Man - a new printing which I bought a couple of years ago. I also seriously considered following the idea, but then I realised that, despite appearances, I'm not actually fictional.

I had a go at it. by Breaker (4.00 / 2) #11 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 06:44:47 AM EST
Only I used coins instead to simulate the dice so I didn't look like a nutter.

That was a very, very interesting summer.  I nearly got arrested, nearly got my face kicked in, boned a 18 year old (I was 29 at the time), got lost on a bus to fuck knows where, went to Newcastle, and got utterly, utterly hammered on neat gin.

[ Parent ]
You really need to by ni (4.00 / 1) #19 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 08:24:47 AM EST
tell this story more thoroughly. For the love of the scooposphere man, speak!

256: What are you searching for? mx: Kaola penis. 256: Why aren't you using image search?
[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #18 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 08:14:23 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by yicky yacky

I haven't by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #20 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 08:30:42 AM EST
I kind of went from Neuromancer to Gravity's Rainbow to On the Road, with little in between.

[ Parent ]
Until seeing it on the used bookstore shelf . . . by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #22 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 08:37:28 AM EST
I'd never heard of it.

[ Parent ]
pls post horror recommendations by spacejack (2.00 / 0) #21 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 08:36:14 AM EST
They don't need to be current, just cream of the crop type stuff. I enjoyed the Tomb of Dracula reprints, but if there's better stuff out there I'd like to check it out. I'll search around for Steve Niles, for starters.

I've never been a huge fan of zombie stories, because zombies don't make very interesting villians. Yeah, the story can be saved by having interesting human villians who refuse to act as team players, but then you could just substitute zombies with any kind of un-thinking monsters, aliens™ or natural disaster.

One book I'm having a reasonably good time reading is Wasteland (though more post-apocalyptic than horror.) It feels just a tad formulaic and I seem to recognize a lot of his influences a little too easily (right off the bat I was like "hey, he looks just like the guy from Hardware!",) but the art is good and it's reasonably smart so I'm sticking with it.

zombies reflect the human soul in a unique way by lm (4.00 / 2) #26 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 09:55:10 AM EST
When we hear Ripley in the Alien movies go on and on about how the we are the aliens and the aliens are us, it isn't really convincing because when we look into the mirror we don't see the alien within. But when we hear Barbara in '90 remake of Night of the Living Dead go on about how we are the zombies and the zombies are us, it's terrifying because we've all looked into the mirror hung over on a bad hair day in our middle aged stupor and have seen the zombie within staring back at us.

Not only that, but the idea of reanimated loved ones coming back to hunt us down is far more horrible than the forces of nature in stock disaster movie, stock unthinking monsters or the typical alien crowd. You have to get into the realm of Invasion of the Body Snatcher aliens or Stepford Wives robots to get the same sense of horror.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
Some places to start. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 2) #28 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 10:47:50 AM EST
Niles and Templesmith's 30 Days of Night combines a good story with fabulous painted artwork. Possibly the best place to start. None of Niles's other books have yet measured up to 30. They are fun, but not as great. Nail and Giant Monster are gory fun, but they are lesser works. All these are available in TPB.

Image Comics' The Walking Dead is the only zombie comic you'll ever need. Unlike most two hour films that gloss over the problem of finding food and shelter and whatnot after the zombie holocaust, Walking is able to genuinely use the monthly pace to explore issues of organizing post-zombie survivors and trying to create something like a livable existence. Really about people who now carry the responsibility for recreating civilization. The first five volumes of this story are in TPB.

The recently compiled Black Hole uses a weird, dead-pan horror plot to tell a truly novelistic story. Definitely worth checking out.

[ Parent ]
when you say "The Dice Man" by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #25 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 09:09:52 AM EST
I can't help but think of this.

Sorry. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #27 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 10:21:20 AM EST
It wasn't my intention to induce a 3F (Ford Fairlane Flashback).

[ Parent ]
A sad state of affairs by LinDze (2.00 / 0) #29 Sun Oct 01, 2006 at 12:27:12 PM EST
in pulp horror these days. It might be on the sillier side of what youre looking for but The Goon is great old timey horror.

-Lin Dze
Arbeit Macht Frei
Goon is good. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #30 Mon Oct 02, 2006 at 04:31:04 AM EST
I didn't add things like Goon and Hellboy, though both are excellent. Perhaps I was being to limited in my definition of what counts as "horror."

[ Parent ]
Gambling Blues | 30 comments (30 topical, 0 hidden)