With All Hallow's Eve just a few weeks away, I have decided that, for the month of October, I will focus my reviews on stories that fit perfectly with the setting of Halloween. Whether it be scary or gory, eerie or suspenseful, Sci-Fi or supernatural, these stories will be read and presented to you during the weeks leading up to Samhain. As my first of the bunch, I am delighted to bring to you the Max Brooks- written, Ibraim Roberson-illustrated classic The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks.
For those unaware of Max Brooks, he is of great stock. He is the son of comedy icon Mel Brooks and acting legend Anne Bancroft. That alone shows you the type of talent we're dealing with, but the greatness that lies in this duo's son differs from that of his parents. After two years as a member of the writing team for Saturday Night Live (2001-2003), Brooks has made a name for himself developing amazing works centralized in the zombie genre. His first book, The Zombie Survival Guide (2003), describes the origin of zombies and how to survive in a world filled with the undead. Brooks would follow that up a few years later with this, a graphic novel that depicts the events in the previous book's latter section.
This graphic novel, released in 2009, focuses on key points in time where the emergence of the undead have been recorded and thought to be stalled. Starting at 60,000 B.C. in Central Africa and traveling through time, setting all the way to A.D. 1992 in Joshua Tree National Park, Brooks uses historical and culturally accurate representations to assist in the seemingly real depictions of these "documented" events of the past. The stories of these "historical" zombie attacks carry such detailed weight with them, you feel like you are actually reading from a records book or educational text. This is a testament to the level of dedication and precise focus on detailed storytelling Brooks puts into his work. His writing makes the reader believe that these are actual historical moments where the human race has come into violent contact with its living dead.
Artist Ibraim Roberson began his illustrative career on this very graphic novel. As his first work, his art in this novel is astounding. As if mirroring Brooks' attention to literary detail, Roberson brings these images to life with extremely detailed drawings. Each inch of deteriorating skin and exposed bone is so well detailed. The definition in muscles and curvature of bone structure makes these characters jump out of the page, giving them a realistic appearance. Like Tony Moore's artwork in The Walking Dead, Roberson's choice to keep the artwork in black and white gives the novel this dated feel, showing us (along with Brooks' writing) that these are serious events taken from our past.
While Roberson has gone on to have a successful career working with Marvel and DC, Max Brooks went on to pen the highly successful World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War and the graphic novel The Harlem Hellfighters, which portrays a fictionalization account of the entirely African-American 369th Infantry Regiment's experiences in World War I. Brooks was also featured in Alan Moore's Cinema Purgatorio and has recently completed his latest novel, Minecraft: The Island. He has also made a career speaking at military schools across the country about the future of warfare, counterinsurgency and the evolution of what it is to be a soldier. It seems the seductive teacher from The Graduate and the visionary behind History Of The World, Part One parented one hell of a creative genius.
If you haven't yet, I highly recommend picking up both The Zombie Survival Guide and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks and adding them to your collection. If you're interested in hearing more from Max Brooks, check out his interviews with Chris Hardwick on The Nerdist podcast, available on your mobile device's podcast app and thenerdist.com.
- "The Azorean One" Anthony Esteves of The Capeless Crusaders