ZOMBIE PORN: Remender has "XXXombies" in his "Crawl Space"

Fri, September 28th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
George A. Tramountanas, Staff Writer

"Crawl Space" #1, featuring "XXXombies," on sale October 24

There are certain staples of the horror genre; vampires, werewolves, and zombies, to name a few. Tales of such creatures have existed for hundreds of years, and yet storytellers keep finding new ways to spin the adventures of these monsters.

Joss Whedon's celebrated "Angel" gave us a vampire with a soul. Jeph Loeb's cult classic "Teen Wolf" gave us a hormonally driven teenage werewolf. And Zack Snyder's popular 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead" gave us zombies that could run.

Of those three innovations, the one that's most polarizing to genre audiences is – believe it or not – the running zombie. This new addition to zombie lore seemed to move the living dead into a realm in which many fans felt uncomfortable.

I wonder how those same fans will feel about zombie porn?

That's what readers can look forward to in "XXXombies," the first story in the ongoing Image Comics horror anthology "Crawl Space," courtesy of Rick Remender ("Sea of Red," "Fear Agent") and Kieron Dwyer ("Sea of Red," "Night Mary"). Arriving in stores October 24 – the week before Halloween – the first issue of "Crawl Space" promises a perverted twist full of chills and thrills. CBR News spoke with Remender to find out more about the frightful fun headed our way.

"'Crawl Space' is a new ongoing series in the tradition of 'Tales from the Crypt,' 'The Twilight Zone,' and 'Creep Show,'" Rick Remender told CBR News. "'Crawl Space' will showcase the many horror stories Kieron Dwyer and I have been cooking up over the past few years. It's intended to serve as an expanded version of the series mentioned above, where each tale is given as many issues as needed to develop.

Alternate "Crawl Space" #1 cover by Tony Moore
"Since completing our last couple of horror books, 'Sea of Red' and 'Night Mary,' Kieron and I have been cooking up dozens of new terrifying tales and over the next few years, they'll all be wedged out of the 'Crawl Space' and into the horrible light of day."

In today's comic market, many creators renumber their series or solicit issues with a #1 on the cover, as first issues tend to sell better than subsequent books. As such, it's curious that Remender and Dwyer have chosen to create an ongoing anthology as opposed to several miniseries, which would generate many "first" issues. "We talked it over with Erik Larsen and Eric Stephenson, and everyone agrees this is the kind of book that will build better with a regular numbering system, same as the old EC and Warren horror books," the writer explained. "Since every issue will be by Kieron Dwyer and myself and the theme is well established, we hope to build 'Crawl Space' as a horror imprint people can trust."

As an anthology title, "Crawl Space" allows for tales of different sizes and formats to be told, giving contributing writers and artists the chance to flex their horror muscles in different ways. As a matter of fact, it may even give Remender, who is also an artist, a chance to stretch his fingers. "As for me getting into the art, I just might," said Remender. "I recently finished inking the past two issues of 'Fear Agent,' and it was a ton of fun. However, I'm happy as a pig in ass-shit with scientific badass Kieron Dwyer on art, and he's hot to do all the art on the next year's worth of issues, at least."

"XXXombies" may sound like a familiar title to many, as this story was originally announced as an ongoing title from Remender some time ago. "Since we'd cooked up 'XXXombies' with Tony Moore last year and I'd already written the story, it made sense to have it be the first batter up," Remender clarified.

Page from "XXXombies" in "Crawl Space" #1
Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer developed "XXXombies" with artist Tony Moore ("Walking Dead," "The Exterminators"), who is contributing "Crawl Space" covers.

"'XXXombies' was actually born during a late night phone chat as Tony and I were discussing the state of the comics industry," said Remender of how the trio came up with the concept of zombie porn. "I'm sure you won't be too surprised to learn the idea of zombies and porn stars started off as a joke. Then we started rolling around some ideas about how to make something like that work and within ten minutes we'd fallen in love with it. In love or not, it still seemed too ridiculous to actually produce.

"The decision to do this story didn't come until the next day, when I arrived in my studio in San Francisco and told Kieron about the idea. Kieron pointed out that we'd all been talking about doing an 'end-all' zombie tale together for years, how perfect this would be, and to do it exactly how we think it should be done: fast, fun and truly horrifying.

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"Kieron immediately cooked up the name 'XXXombies' and introduced a number of great ideas of his own to the story. In 24 hours this thing had grown from a goof into something we all loved and absolutely had to produce."

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Collaboration can be a tricky beast, especially when you have three artistic minds trying to hone a wild concept. However, Remender made the whole thing sound as simple as zombie pie in explaining it. "Tony, Kieron and I went back and forth on the story beats for a few months – fleshing it out, as it were," Remender said. "Once we had the basic beats I locked myself in the studio for two weeks and wrote the entire four-issue story. I basically took that, broke it into pages and panels, and off Kieron went on pages. I then wrote final dialogue to the art. No one in comics gets acting in characters like Kieron – no one . So I rewrote the lines a good deal to perfectly fit the expressions and acting of the characters."

While "XXXombies" has a fantastic and unspeakably vulgar concept, it's also an intriguing and even thoughtful story that builds upon the humorous core conceit. "It's 1978," Remender began. "Overnight, the fledgling pornography industry has grown into one of the largest markets in the world. In order to make a dozen films at once, producer Wong Hung Low and actor Jeremy Ronald have gathered the top stars of adult film in a secluded San Fernando Valley hillside home for an intensive week of shoots.

"However, when the swollen members of this entourage emerge, they are horrified to discover that a zombie plague has overrun the city of angels. Wong immediately sets out on the greatest money making scheme of all time – rounding up zombie movie stars for use in his flesh films…and more."

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Starring in the wild, dead and dirty ride of "XXXombies" is a cast of characters as diverse (and perverse) as fans have come to expect from the self-diagnosed, creatively ADD Remender, who gave us a full rundown:

Jenny Mitchum – "Down-home girl, cute as a button and sweet as apple pie. A pimp (passing himself off as a producer) tricked this innocent nineteen-year-old from Middle America into coming to Los Angeles to be a star. Too ashamed to return home a failure, Jenny now finds herself in the seedy world of adult films."

Steve Mitchum – "Father of Jenny. The biggest, baddest, mother trucker around, Steve is a force of nature out to find his daughter at all costs."

Scott Bellnob – "Pizza delivery boy who ends up at a porno shoot. A virgin who is picked on by the male porn stars, Tom will rise to the occasion when the chips are down to become our unlikely hero."

Wong Hunglau – "A self-serving master of exploitation, and an adult film producer. Owing large quantities of money to the mafia, Wong cooked up a scheme to shoot five porno films over the course of one weekend in hopes of paying back his debt. When he realizes many of the brightest stars in Hollywood have been transformed into zombies, Wong cooks up a scheme to make porno films with the zombie movie stars. Good lighting and some makeup can do magic."

Jeremy Ronald – "The star of the set. Porno's first true star, he recently found God and just wants enough money to get himself a piece of land in the heartland in hopes of leaving his wickedness behind him. However, now back on a shoot, Jeremy finds cocaine, women and money are far more interesting than God."

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Burt Magnum – "Burt is equal parts Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds. A big black mustache and a chest of hair like a chia-pet. A failed career as a stuntman landed him in adult films, though he holds onto delusions of returning to real film one day as a leading Fall Guy. Standing in his way is a fear of heights, poor coordination, and a weak stomach. A nice and likeable guy, but a bit of a buffoon."

Thrust Johnson – "Super alpha-jock Thrust wears the badge of porn star as if it is the highest honor one could have. A weightlifting steroid case, Thrust is quick to anger and ends up in fights almost nightly. Nearly unredeemable as a person, his arrogance is off-putting in the extreme to everyone except for former high school cheerleader Brandy Behind."

Tommy Tuturo – "A 40-year gangster whose career in the mafia has been plagued with bad luck and incompetence. Indicted in two senate hearings, Tommy spent a number of years in the pen as all of his underlings became captains. Collecting Wong's debt to his Don is Tommy's final chance to prove that he and his crew are more than just a gaggle of jokes."

Remender also promises some cameos of zombified real-life porn stars as well as A-list mainstream performers, but couldn't reveal which ones, as he didn't want to give away the fun.

As for the reason behind the plague and how widespread it becomes, the creator said, "Only L.A. has been overrun. The zombie plague in our story is Voodoo in origin. I can say nothing else."

The '70s are an interesting time to set a story, as the era is regarded by many as the golden age of sex, drugs, and disco. Another benefit of telling "XXXombies" in this time period is that one doesn't have to worry about breast implants falling out of rotting chests. "Nope, no fake boobs," Remender declared. "The idea is 'Boogie Night of the Living Dead.' All the fun and real tension of 'Boogie Nights' wedged inside of 'Return of the Living Dead.' There couldn't be a better era to write an apocalypse tale in. The juxtaposition of the brain-dead and the living dead running around in the desolate disco wasteland has turned this into something truly unique – if it isn't too whoreish and self-congratulatory of me to say so."

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Obviously, there is one major question to consider -- specifically in a tale such as "XXXombies" – and that is how the hell do zombies have sex? Does one have to worry about "parts" falling off? Is rigamortis a factor?

"If you read 'Crawl Space' #1, you'll get all the answers you desire," Remender promised.

For those Rick Remender fans well learned in the adult film genre, another pleasant surprise is coming your way in "XXXombies" – homage covers! "The covers are actually drawn by Kieron and digitally painted by Tony," said Remender. "Tony did one cover with colorist John Rauch that will be used on a retailer incentive version of 'Crawl Space' #1 – it's an homage to the movie poster for the porn 'Emmanuelle.' Issue #2 will be Kieron and Tony doing an homage to 'Debbie Does Dallas.' The other covers will be send-ups of famous images from the late 70s."

Perhaps even more so than the actors' touching performances, some of the most creative elements in pornography are the film titles they come up with. In a project like "XXXombies," one can only imagine what zombie porn titles Remender and company have come up with. "Debbie does Death?" "Hairy Rotter and the Sorcerer's Bone?"

"Have to save it for the book!" Remender teased.

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