Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Zombie Outlaw Review


I don't know who decided that Zombies were cool--but whoever it was, I'd like to have their babies. There can never be enough of zombies and there are so many different takes on the subgenre, it can be overwhelming. On the comic front, The Walking Dead is clearly one of the most popular zombie-horror comics, mostly due to its real-life drama mixed with horrific violence. However, if you are looking for a more lighthearted approach to the zombie craze, the indie comic series, Zombie Outlaw may be perfect for you.

The comic series was created in 2010 by artist Benny Jordan and writer Brian Apodaca who met while in high school. The pair had always wanted to work together and one year at Comic Con, they fully realized what they wanted to do with their ideas.

Sharing a love for the 80's Troma classic, The Toxic Avenger, and the equally campy, Night of the Creeps, only helped the friends to envision their comic, Zombie Outlaw, even more. Zombie Outlaw takes place at Irvine State University and follows students, Matt Naismith and Will Simers, who unwittingly unleash the zombie outlaw from his tomb beneath the library.

When developing their college-aged characters, Jordan and Apodaca were inspired by actors Jay Baruchel and Kat Dennings for Matt and KT. One can assume that Matt is totally geeky and socially awkward while simultaneously being strong-willed and determined to fight against evil. Each character falls into the typical archetype found in most horror--the geek, the brains, and the girl that every guy wants.

Although the beginning of the series wasn't exactly new or original, revolving around a cliche love angle, it did become more interesting once the boys learn about the zombie outlaw's history and actually free him. The artwork is much more cartoonish than what readers typically see in The Walking Dead and it sets the tone of the series immediately, letting us know not to take things so seriously. The writer of the series explains, "Our comic has a lighthearted tone, and clearly doesn't take itself too seriously. There are Zombies, but the point of the story is not rooted in that. There is cartoon violence, gore, and action, but at heart there is also romance,college-based humor, and small nods to reality peeking out behind corners here and there."

I would have preferred the series to be a lot more darker and serious because I think that the writers could have done a lot more with the storyline. Clearly the University has a dark past and it would be much more entertaining to see this in a serious way rather than a lighthearted one. But, the writers chose to make it humorous and that's fine too because it's different than what readers normally see. My problem with this is that a lot of the humor seems to come from recycled jokes that aren't too funny, and that can take away from the reading experience. My suggestion: use more risque jokes that will offend people--nothing sells better than a bit of controversy, am I right?

I was only given the opportunity to review the first issue and it's very hard to judge an entire series based off of it's debut. There is still so much room for the artist and writer to grow and to really develop and learn who their characters are, and I think that they will definitely find their groove in later issues of the series. The fact that the two creators behind the comic self-published and put everything together themselves, makes me applaud them and root for them. Although I wasn't particularly wowed by the first issue, I wasn't totally let down either. I will definitely keep an eye out for future issues and give them a chance--you should too!

To find more information about Zombie Outlaw and its creators, visit http://www.zombieoutlaw.com/ or tweet @Cap_Midnight.

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