Today, let's discuss something that is near and dear to my heart: zombies.
Actually, I'm just kidding. I'm not a huge fan of zombies. I guess I just don't find the concept of rotten flesh all that appealing. Although I do really want to one day finish watching Zombieland, because from what I've seen so far, it is a good movie. But enough about movies!
Despite my lack of excitement when it comes to zombies, I might like things where they appear if it is good. Let me explain that incredibly vague statement. Storytelling, if it is good, is enjoyable no matter what the subject matter. And part of the appeal of the zombie apocalypse is the concept of the end of the world. Or at least the end of the world as we know it.
I've seen a couple of zombie webcomics floating about on the internets, but The Zombie Hunters is really the only one that I have kept up to date with and have read closely.Created (written and illustrated as well) by Jenny Romanchuk, the story follows the adventures of... Jenny Romanchuk, a zombie hunter. Note: This comic has some strong language and lots of scary zombie images.
An interesting thing about this comic is that it originally started out as gag strip of sorts, about Jenny and her friends and what they would do in the case of a zombie apocalypse. After spending some time working on the project, Jenny decided to make The Zombie Hunters into a graphic novel (this is probably more of a term that I use as a distinction between a comic that continually comes out with chapter after chapter with no seeming related plot, a la superhero comics, and a comic that is essentially an illustrated novel in the sense that there is one story that is being told through the medium of comics; Note: this is not necessarily the way other people use the term “graphic novel”).
This change in project direction also facilitated a change in the art style. It became less of a cartoon-y comic and something more resembling real life. That is not to say that the illustration is incredibly life-like, more that the style has come to adhere to principles of anatomy more than before. This change in the art direction goes incredibly well with the darker turn of the story.
When a zombie virus ravages the earth, the survivors must band together. The story follows the exploits of a group of zombie hunters, who live on an artificial island, away from the mainland, and the zombies that dwell there. The zombie hunters make a living by finding salvage on the mainland. They are treated as lesser citizens than others because of their bleak fates – they carry a dormant strain of the zombie virus that will turn them into one of several types of zombies when they die. Because of this they are segregated from the rest of the non-infected survivors and must at all times wear their badges that indicate that they are infected.
One of the things that I look for in a good comic is always a good story, and The Zombie Hunters is one of the best. There are some funny moments, there are some poignant moments, and always there is the sense of bleakness and desperation, as the humans must face a world filled with the undead. The emotional voyages of the infected characters are particularly engaging. How do they face their lives and their mortality when they know that when they die (which is likely to happen sooner rather than later due to their hazardous occupation) they will become just like the things that they are fighting against?
All images copyright of Jenny Romanchuk and The Zombie Hunters.