Review by Frank Plowright
With it’s title deliberately reflecting The Walking Dead, and there being no shortage of zombie graphic novels in its wake, how do co-creators Joshua Ortega and Digger T Mesch differentiate theirs? The novelty is that it’s not dead humans returning to life as zombies, as that’s a condition restricted to wildlife.
A 21st century phenomenon is the graphic novel viewed by creators as nothing more than easily digested storyboards to be supplied to potential film producers, and that’s the way The Other Dead reads. Everything is distilled to a tickbox lowest common denominator appeal for a seventeen year old teenager at an Idaho test audience. Metal band wannabees? Check. Strippers? Check. The President and security agents? Check. Excessive blood and violence? Check. Rooms full of weapons? Check. Someone biting the head off a rabid squirrel? Check. Not over the top enough yet? How about the poor taste of a young child undergoing chemo treatment for cancer? What with having to fit all that in, and involve the cast in video game scenarios, there was no time to consider supplying anyone with anything resembling a character beyond their visual design, so the cast just spout dialogue.
As wretched as The Other Dead is, it would be far worse without Qing Ping Mui’s art. As seen by the sample page, when it comes to the animals the pages hit the phenomenal ranking on occasion, and that’s accompanied by fully detailed locations and some imaginative methods of animal gore. The people aren’t as well defined, sometimes twisted into unlikely poses, and although President Obama features, he’s drawn as if a generic African American, with no attempt at a likeness. A needless ‘epilogue’ seems to be a way to present sample pages from Mike Shoyket, who didn’t get the artist gig.
Beyond the introduction of the zombie animals, the only surprise moment concerns survivalist Chet, so The Other Dead continues chapter by chapter never deviating from its policy of clichéd and unoriginal. You may even be able to predict the order in which the cast members die. Given the situation, where would be the absolute worst place they could end up? Well, anyone familiar with Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever album can pick up a clue there. The writers probably did. Right at the end they realise there are millions of God-fearing Americans who’ve not been acknowledged, and perhaps amid all the violence and swearing there should be some sanctimonious religious references. Alternatively, thanking God is the writers laying out their Oscar acceptance speech.
There are plenty of zombie graphic novels available, some showing wit and originality, but almost all better than this.