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Life Arts    H4'ed 7/6/10

Why Zombies? Part 1.

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read part two of the conversation here.

Editor's note: Here's a great illustration of Jonathan-- as you can see, it looks kind of like him, but with maggots. Make sure to check out his extended bio. I'm pleased to say I knew him when... Rob Kall

Zombies, baby!
Zombies, baby!
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We kick off our rolling series of ZOMBIE PANEL DISCUSSIONS by addressing the fundamental question: Why zombies?

AARON ALPER: I think I would qualify zombies as the most relevant living mythology. They're viral and global and there is no safe place anymore. I think a lot of people can identify with those fears.

BOB FINGERMAN: Because, generally, they're a universal problem. They're the

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roach of the monster world; if you've seen one, you know there are thousands more where it came from. Also, they're scary because they can't be reasoned with. They're worse than children. But seriously, their lack of reasoning and their pure need-driven motivation are what make them frightening. That and the fact that they'll tear you limb from limb and devour all your soft tissue. Individually they're just gross and unsettling, but they always come in mobs and mobs are by nature terrifying.

BRAD C. HODSON: For me zombies represent the mindless side of human nature. Whenever we watch news footage of a disaster

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like Katrina or the riots in LA in the nineties, it looks like we're watching a zombie film. So in a way zombies are a way for us to deal with the fear of society run amuck. Plus you can hack away at zombies with chainsaws and axes and it's fun to watch. It would not be so fun if you went after a group of rioters with a bandsaw, for instance. That would just be weird and creepy.

DAVID WELLINGTON: I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, where George Romero made his zombie films. They would be shown uncut in prime time on the local television stations back then so they were among the first horror movies I ever really saw. Before I read Dracula for the first time, before I read Stephen King, I knew all about zombies. It was only after the remake of Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later that I even thought I could write something about zombies myself.

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CHUCK MCKENZIE: For me personally it's because the glorious richness of

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zombies as metaphor aside zombies terrify me, and the things that terrify us inevitably become a source of fascination. I should clarify that it's not so much the zombies themselves that terrify me (I don't actually expect to meet one strolling down the street); it's more the *idea* of what a zombie *is* an animated corpse, generally devoid of self or intelligence, motivated only an uncontrollable hunger for human flesh. As a concept, zombies are just so wonderfully *wrong*. What's not to fear? Or love?

ROBERT KIRKMAN: Why not zombies? They're a mighty easy way to get things good and fucked up in a fictional world, and that leaves for some pretty interesting character development. So"yeah. Zombies.

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DAVID DUNWOODY: First, because I'm a gorehound they're rotting, they kill people in the most awful way, and you can pump round after round into "em, but they'll just pick up their guts and keep coming. Second, the almost-but-never-entirely-human aspect is enormously appealing. On one hand, that perceived familiarity makes them even more unsettling and dangerous and on the other, it's possible to look through a zombie's eyes for a sympathetic commentary without losing all that horrible rotting-and-guts stuff I mentioned. It ain't easy to make a zombie sparkle.

DAVID JACK BELL: Because they scare me. I watched NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD on local TV right before Halloween when I was about twelve years old. A thrilling experience. It's human nature to be fascinated by the dead, by what happens to us after we're dead.

ERIC S. BROWN: I have loved zombies since I was a kid. They are the coolest way for the world to end in a sea of screams and gunfire. Beyond that, as a writer, the zombie genre holds endless possibilities. A zombie plague can occur anywhere or anytime from the old west to the far flung future when mankind has spread to the stars.

FRED VAN LENTE: Robert Kirkman left Marvel to work on his Image creations full time and the company asked me to take over the Marvel Zombies franchise. At first it was kind of daunting, just because I wasn't sure where to take the title after Kirkman & Philips, but after thinking about it over a weekend the idea of turning it into a pseudo-techno-thriller starring a hard-drinking, hard-loving killer robot gunning down ravenous costumed flesh-eaters took hold, and the plot of MZ3 pretty much presented itself to me in full cloth over just a few hours. And I haven't looked back since. Or at least much.

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GARY KEMBLE: What I love about zombies is that they have a single-minded purpose to feast on the flesh of the living. You can't bargain with them, you can't reason with them. All you can do is arm yourself well and pray for that all-important head shot!

JAKE BIBLE: Why not! Seriously, though, ever since I watched Night Of The Living Dead when I was ten, I have been fascinated. There is something about Death no longer being final that really grabs at that animalistic, instinctual place in my brain. For me zombies equal survival. And with survival comes a type of clarity. The BS falls away quickly and only the Truth is left.

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JONATHAN MABERRY is a multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning author, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator and writing teacher/lecturer. Novels * GHOST ROAD BLUES (winner of the Stoker Award for Best First Novel in 2006) * (more...)
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