Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

I know that we talk about zombies quite a bit here at Omnicomic. Actually, these days everybody talks about zombies a lot. I don’t know why. It’s just in the last ten years everyone has just become OBSESSED with zombies!

Whether it’s your Marvel comics superheroes getting an undead makeover or some downloadable patch/version of Call of Duty or Red Dead Redemption that leaves you fighting hordes of the undead. we just love it. And I mean, what’s not to love? Zombies are scary as %$# on so many levels!

There’s the raw unstoppable component where they just keep coming. And there’s the un-natural component. Like what if the human brain somehow found a way to generate movement even if the neurotransmitters in your body were dead and severed?

It doesn’t make sense and no one in whatever comic/game/book could even get close enough to study what kind of freak miracle of nature is making this possible. But somehow, on some biological level, what if you (presumably?) stopped feeling pain and continued to generate some kind of instinctual movement/action? More just stimulus-response than alive?

There’s also the sort of human-like aspect on some level that these were people you knew. So are they still the same people in some form? And there’s that belief that everything can die. I have easily always believed that Dawn of the Dead (both the original and its remake) is the scariest zombie film of all time (although I admit all that playing around with the science of zombie physiology in Day of the Dead is some unsettling stuff).

It’s that slow realization -that dawning- on the characters that all of human civilization has, in fact, collapsed that REALLY makes it scary. It’s not that they’re dead. It’s that their way of LIFE is dead. There’s no TV stations. No phone lines or radio. There’s nothing out there. There’s no where to go.

Well, I’m going to go a little off the beaten path here and talk about a little jewel I came across that I find particularly useful to the zombie-inclined. I caught up with a friend of mine the other day- an old English teacher of mine, believe it or not. I hadn’t seen him in years. We caught a few beers and, of course, hit a comic book store.

We’re both big gamers (or you know, we were, when we lived a lifestyle that afforded us the time for this kind of luxury). So almost anything that those guys who sit behind the rack of graphic novels in your comic book store at that table are playing? We’ve played. I come across this game (a little old now): All Flesh Must Be Eaten, a zombie-horror survival guide role-playing game.

I really have to give the writers of this game some serious credit. I know the Zombie Survival Guide is pretty brilliant, but I really think AFMBE is one of the most thorough, definitive kind of ‘guides’ to zombie stories that you can find. I mean these guys have seen EVERY movie and read EVERY comic book you can think of that involves zombies! And I mean even really obscure ones, like Day of the Comet and Night of the Creeps.

Ostensibly, the point of AFMBE is to play a Resident Evil style zombie survival horror game. You and your friends make up some characters, the zombie outbreak happens and then you have to work together to survive. So one guy describes the action: “you’re in a room, you have this much ammo, etc.”, you say what you want to do, the ref rolls some dice and tells you what happens. Now- HERE’S what makes the game brilliant.

Imagine you sat down to play AFMBE every Saturday for two months straight. Now imagine that every time you played the zombies were a little different. That’s kind of the point of the game, see? In order to survive, you and your party need to figure out how the zombies are spreading and what to do to contain them or at least escape becoming ones yourself. And like I said these guys have thought of (seen/read) EVERYTHING zombie.

It could go down so many different ways (and I’m hardly spoiling anything for you) because they’ve even published additional sourcebooks for this stuff, filled with ideas you’ve never even heard of. For example, there’s the standard, George Romero ‘you get bit and you’re a zombie’ zombie. But let’s say a big ass comet hits the earth and spreads some weird dust into the atmosphere. IN this case, the zombie virus is actually an airborne toxin that -once inhaled- transforms you in a matter of hours. (Day of the Comet-ish)

OR: your party clips a few zombies in the head only to find some strange, little alien parasite hopping out of people’s skulls and slithering off to the graveyard to find a new host. In this case, the zombies are really just puppets of mysterious and parasitic alien invaders who are spawned by some weird brood queen in some alien spaceship or some such (Night of the Creeps style).

Or maybe some less than scrupulous industry has taken the liberty of dumping toxic sludge into the lake surrounding a local, forgettable swamp town? But hey, don’t drink the water because, you know, zombies (enumerous works of fiction)? Or even just old-school like there’s some voodoo priest in a room, somewhere, who is LITERALLY bringing the souls of the dead back to their body to do his misbegotten bidding (The Serpent and the Rainbow, some supposed real life accounts).

You can play it so many different ways! And the fun in the game is the kind of desperate-panicked-attempts to understand what the hell is happening while civilization collapses around you part. I mean, I didn’t even do half of what they have to offer. Not only that, but these guys have produced sourcebooks that let you incorporate zombies and other undead nasties into story genres.

Genres like Martial arts/Kung-fu science fiction cinema (Enter the Zombie), Pulp action adventure, Indiana Jones/The Mummy style (Pulp Zombies), The Wild West (A Fistful of Zombies), WWE style wrestling/one-on-one Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat style action (totally serious- Zombie SmackDown). Fantasy adventure (Dungeons and Zombies), science fiction (All Tomorrow’s Zombies) Swashbuckling pirate style (Argh! There be Zombies…my favorite title by far).

Really great stuff. For the true zombie connoisseur. Highly recommended.


  1. i know Day of the comet that 80's movie is so cheesy but awesome too. wanna say its on netflix too watch it now. awesome article i approve and AFMBE sounds like an awesome game


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