Zombie Tales: Good Eatin’

Regular readers know that I hate zombies. So why am I talking about an anthology of zombie stories? Because reading it was a good lesson that sometimes it’s a good idea to shake up your preconceptions.

Zombie Tales: Good Eatin cover
Zombie Tales: Good Eatin’
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This is the third book in a series of four, and the 12 stories here use zombies to explore determination and the struggle for survival. The life-or-death setting, complete with different varieties of monsters, bring the challenges and choices to the forefront and make everything more immediate and dramatic. When destruction comes to the world, who will survive, and why?

The first story, by William Messner-Loebs and Matt Cossin, reset my expectations immediately by demonstrating the power of faith to overcome any obstacle (and punishing the hypocrisy of religious broadcasters). It may seem simplistic to those not sympathetic to the message, but I certainly didn’t expect *that* subject or setting in a zombie book. The clear, direct art tells the story simply, which is just what it needs. (Cossin also draws a piece by Michael Alan Nelson about how far a jealous girl will go to eliminate her rival.)

Another favorite was that by Pierluigi Cothran and Todd Herman, who ponder what being a rocker looks like once the zombies have taken over. “Lucky Dog”, by Karl Kesel and Jesse Hamm, wasn’t bad, if a bit too much like Ellison’s “A Boy and His Dog” in my opinion.

In several of these stories, the writers are better known than the artists (which is typical of the publisher’s strategy). But the illustrators are quite professional, if sometimes wearing their inspirations obviously. Jeremy Rock’s work looked to me like early Steve Dillon, for example, while Drew Rausch does a good Ben Templesmith. The glaring exception was the out-of-place, overly dark contribution by Jon Schnepp in which he monologues about cigarette addiction in a static work captioned with Comic Sans, the hallmark of someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

As with any anthology, there were some stories I wish had been left out or adjusted. The superhero story by Eric Calderon and Ming Doyle added nothing new; I could have done without it. Boom! editor Ian Brill contributes two pieces with intriguing ideas, but I thought the first could have been longer and the second shorter. They didn’t seem to end in quite the right place.

Brian Augustyn and Leno Carvalho’s story would have been better placed further away from the Messner-Loebs piece, since it takes a more “comic-booky” approach to the same subject, complete with overwritten captions, and it suffers from the comparison. The art’s dramatic, but I sometimes couldn’t tell what was going on, a real problem in a story where we’re supposed to understand both the “normal” and supernatural explanations for events.

I also wish that there’d been some kind of “about the artists” page, so I could learn more about the work by those I wasn’t familiar with. Based on their contributions here, I wanted to read more from several of them. The publisher’s website has some preview pages.

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