Louis Falcetti writes for Bleeding Cool
I write this review from a place of neutrality. I don't want you to think that I'm one of "those" kids. You know what I mean. Those zombie type kids. Not zombie in the way your overly medicated little brother is. I'm not huge into the zombie culture is what I mean. In fact, just the other night I skipped the annual Zombie Pub Crawl in my town, proudly continuing my tradition of ignoring it wholesale. I don't read The Walking Dead or watch the show. I've never read a book by Max Brooks and I'll happily label 28 Days Later a zombie film, regardless of what Boyle or anyone on any side says. Zombies aren't my favorite monsters, in fact, I'd go so far as to say I don't have a favorite monster, because I'm not 5 years old and can barely focus on things that are meaningful, never mind fanciful idle mental wanderings.
Dead Roots is a digital, zombie comic anthology, edited by Mike Garley and out now through Apple's newstand as a standalone app. Dead Roots is going to be a quarterly, 38 page subscribe-able comic. The email Garley sent me telling me about the project described the creative individuals involved as "ridiculously experienced and talented" which is a bit of an understatement. The writers and artists who contribute material to issue one come from all corners of the geek-o-sphere, Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, IT Crowd, Blue Water, Ben 10, 2000 AD and on and on.
Dead Roots is flawless from concept to content. It illustrates exactly why anthologies are so cool. Even though I described it as "cool" just now, don't take that glibly. Things can be cool as well as beautiful, sad, moving, funny, horrible and well, just how many different feelings can great art communicate? The stories within Dead Roots show that even though many are starting to suffer from Dead Dismay, a new condition I've just coined, wherein the over saturation of zombie related culture begins to exact a spiritual and psychic toll on the audience, the genre is far from spent.
Anthologies are great. I never understood or even wanted to understand them until recently. I like an ongoing narrative, which is bizarre, because in terms of regular fiction, I adore short stories. For some reason I never thought much about giving anthologies a try. Dead Roots fully utilizes it's variety of voices to deliver comics in a multitude of styles, from Gavin Mitchell's comic pencils on Head of State to the storybook allure of Hide and Seek with art by Jack Davies to the McKean-ian collage and paint horror madness of The Problem of Longing with art by R.H. Stewart.
These stories come from so many different perspectives and voices, it really makes one wonder why zombie cinema seems so stale so often? I don't know if this is a testament to the genre or to the creativity of the art teams involved but you can do anything with the right people and the right premise.?* Within the digital pages of Dead Roots we get to meet the security guards protecting a recently bit Prime Minister, a man who's washing his car and meditating on it's role in his life while an undead horde charges through his neighborhood, a big sister looking out for her younger brother and other tales of heartbreak, obsession, nobility, responsibility and zombies. Always zombies.
It's out of the UK if you couldn't tell from the geek credentials listed above and the fact that there's someone called a "Prime Minister" involved. So if you're one of those self proclaimed "anglophiles" who exists only to devour Brit culture lock, stock and two smoking barrels, then brace your cheeky self and shell out a few quid bruv. If you're not an anglophile, but in fact despise and detest British culture, buy it anyway, because then you can have a good belly laugh as those tea taxin', queen lovin', olympic hostin' folk get ripped apart by the undead. You can even create a 28 Weeks Later scenario in your head, where you're the American called in to save the day!
These stories are as much a slice of life (or "bite" of life, as the case may be) as they are horror fiction. They don't try to reinvent the wheel or redefine the genre, they just tell great stories. I read a lot of comics, which shouldn't surprise you since I'm reviewing them all the darn time. Far too often in comics people get distracted by the little bits and pieces and forget about what really matters. What really matters is the story, not the cover or the pull quote or the promotional twitter feed or the blood or the sex or the names attached. Dead Roots tells great stories about the dead, the undead and the soon to be dead but beyond that, the stories are about us. It might be life through a nightmare mirror of blood and brains but it's recognizable, connectable, and thankfully celebrate-able! Regardless of your feelings on the undead or the British, if you love stories, get your digital fingers on Dead Roots.