With Halloween behind us, it's time for most to look forward to the holiday season – but for others, it's Halloween all year 'round. That's why, this December, Dynamite Entertainment's zombie series, "Raise the Dead 2" will give that feeling of zombie fear and foreboding to all readers, even in the midst of holiday cheer. With a world set for the zombie apocalypse, series creators are ready to bring readers back to the tale begun in the original series.
"It certainly isn't [your typical zombie book]!" said Moore. "We began last series by following a motley crew of random people who found themselves by chance holed up in a bus station diner together. We followed them all the way to the lab where one of them worked, and then we watched, appalled, as they were pushed to the limit by the zombie horde. Four of the characters survived, and this series is part of their stories."
This new series takes a new look at the world Moore and Reppion created, focusing closer on the survivors this time around. "We didn't want to do more of the same. Vol. 1 had pretty much used up the two zombie tropes, the siege, where characters try to stay in one place or defend the place they are in, and the journey, where they try to get somewhere else, somewhere safe," continued Moore. "In trying to create something that didn't just repeat previous plot-lines, we broke the characters up into different arcs, and we put them geographically further apart. We've introduced a new character who feels fresh and interesting and we have a new location that we think has a kind of classic feel to it. we are both huge fans of Alfred Hitchcock, so we were really happy to be able to pay tribute to him in zombie fashion!"
In addition to bringing a new focus to the store, Moore explained that they've also arranged for a new locale – one that will add a new level of challenge and risk to survival. "The new series begins in a small coastal town, which would seem the least menacing place on earth on a normal day," she said. "Small town America, with little stores, people who stop and pass the time of day and traditional jobs and pastimes. Its one thing to set your zombie outbreak in a city where there are thousands of people and a plentiful supply of hideouts and guns, but what if you were in the middle of nowhere when it happened? What if there were only a couple of hundred people and you had to work out how to survive for the next week, month or year? It's not just about the private, personal experience of the outbreak; we've tried to imagine the national, political reaction by the people left in charge of the zombie nation. They have very different priorities to the people trying to survive out there in their country. "
"I think we've always tried to stay true to the roots of the zombie genre (as we see it)," said co-writer John Reppion. "'Raise the Dead' is not just a zombie book for the sake of it. It's done out of genuine affection and admiration for the best zombie tales that have gone before. We're not just jumping on a bandwagon, we - as a team - are all trying to create something that contributes to the existing mythos. Right from the first series, we've always done our best to ensure that the horror and the human interest are balanced out - we want there to be lots of scares and gore, but we also want the reader to care about what happens to the characters and the world. We're not going for long, drawn out, post-apocalyptic wanderings; 'Raise the Dead' is fast paced and bloody, but, hopefully, it has heart too."
Moore also mentioned that new tidbits about what caused the zombie plague will be revealed in the upcoming series, beyond what was explained in the original. "The origin of the zombie plague is never explicitly explained, although you do see meteorites falling to Earth in the first series, and then there is the mysterious Doctor and his experiments to replace the blood of animals with an artificial 'agent,'" said Moore. "Maybe he let it loose on the world, or maybe it fell to earth on a lump of rock."
While the solicitation information promises "an all-new tale of undead debauchery," readers shouldn't expect a gratuitous amount of undead T&A according to Reppion. "It's a great line, but it does kind of make it sound like we're doing 'XXXombies 2' or something. Which, you know, we're not," he said. "It's nice though - kind of grindhousey. I suppose it's debauchery in the sense that we do revel in the gore a fair bit, and there's certainly a very bloody climax to issue one."
Reppion and Moore are both responsible for the creating and writing the original series, but will hand off scripting the follow-up to Marvel MAX "Zombie" writer Mike Raicht. "We plotted the whole series up front, so we kind of knew what was going to happen in each issue, and then we wrote it all out as graphically as possible so that Mike would hopefully get a feel for the kind of book we were trying to write," said Moore. "We have known Mike since we started the first series, when he was writing 'Zombie' for Marvel MAX, which we were both huge fans of. When we realized we might not have time in our schedule this year to actually script the book ourselves, Mike was the obvious choice. He's a top class writer and he gives good zombie! We sent him our possibly over-detailed breakdown and just let him get on with it. We get to read the scripts before they go to the artist, and then we proof the art and the letters as usual, but we only tweak the dialogue very occasionally. Mike really gets the whole thing and is doing a wonderful, wonderful job."
In addition to Raicht's "Zombie," Moore mentioned a few of the other undead tales that have piqued her interest – with Reppion as the catalyst. "To be honest with you, before I went out with John, I had never seen a zombie film or read a zombie comic-book. This was swiftly rectified once we moved in together and John set about educating me in all things gory and revolting," she said. "I actually have terrible zombie nightmares if I read zombie books or watch films, so God alone knows why I am writing the things as well! My favorite zombie stories are Max Brooks' 'World War Z' for his inventiveness and verisimilitude, I loved 'Shaun of the Dead' for the heartbreaking normal-ness of it, I really enjoyed 'La Horde,' a great French film, and 'Rec' was awesome too. Great examples of what you can do with a few actors and a tower block!"
Although it's their second time around the "Raise the Dead" universe, Reppion noted that revisiting the world is not without its challenges. "Well, maybe it's just me, but it's always a hard when you have to deliberately do bad things to characters, and in a book like 'Raise the Dead,' lots of bad things do happen," he said. "Making the reader care and still satisfying the horror fan's appetite for gore - that's tricky too."
Despite that, Moore mentioned that creating this new chapter in their undead saga also had it's up-side. "Just making something that rings true, where you have maybe stretched the limits of what might really happen, but where it all feels credible and familiar [is rewarding,]" she said. "I think the more fantastical you make horror, the harder it can be to relate to it. Some of the most successful horror stories are focused on the mundane stuff of life. Hopefully we've got a bit of that in our story."
As the zombies approach this holiday season, John Reppion had this advice for surviving the inevitable apocalypse: "Surely every household has been issued with a copy of Max Brooks' 'Zombie Survival Guide' by now, anyway. They weren't sent out by the U.S. government, already? Wow, we got ours here in the UK years ago. Well, the basics are: don't rely on noisy weapons (like chainsaws or shotguns) or modes of transport (like cars or motorbikes) - you're only going to draw attention to yourself, and once you're outnumbered and cornered, well, that's it. Don't think you can reason with them - that's not your aunty or next door neighbor any more. Aim for the head, destroy the brain, stay hidden and pray for a rescue party. Oh, and happy holidays!"