Drawn Of The Dead
Just as its spin-off of Stephen King’s Dark Tower opus hits the home straight, the House Of Ideas has signed up another master of horror. Beginning this month, Empire Of The Dead finds Night Of The Living Dead director George A Romero making his first foray into comics at the ripe old age of 73, although the New York-born filmmaker has long been a fan.
“I grew up on the old EC books and really loved them, and then I got to appreciate everything Marvel had to offer later on,” he recalls. “You might remember Creepshow, a film Stephen King wrote that I directed in 1982. That was an appreciation of the way comics can make you feel and the whole idea of having fun by being scared.”
An ardent zombie fan, Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso approached Romero to see if he would be interested in turning his hand to comics. “I told him that I’d been working on a story for a while,” says Romero. “So the timing with Axel was perfect. He liked what we had in mind, and here we are.”
The series chronicles the zombies getting smarter and the introduction of a deadly new predator that also has a hankering for human flesh. However, Romero refuses to confirm whether it echoes the themes of his similarly-titled movies, such as Dawn Of The Dead and Day Of The Dead. “I’ll let you and your readers interpret those themes and draw your own conclusions. But one of the things that really interests me is that in the middle of all hell breaking loose, when times are hard and people are fighting for survival, so many of the humans in the story are still greedy, still infatuated by power and still just looking out for themselves.”
After dealing with the complicated logistics of making a feature film for several decades now, Romero is relieved to pass such decisions onto artist Alex Maleev ( Daredevil, Moon Knight). “Things like make-up are his problem now,” he laughs. “The difference is that when I’m writing a movie, I need to take a lot of practical things into consideration such as budgets, locations and actors. The ‘how’ of making a movie is part of the fun of making a movie. But when I’m working on a comic book, I don’t have to be practical as I’m only limited by my imagination.”
Empire Of The Dead was conceived as a 15-issue story, but will initially be released in a five-part burst. “Sure, the story could continue but let me finish working on this one first!” he declares, admitting that he would like to adapt the series for the screen at some stage. “I’d love to film it but, from the start, it was conceived as a comic book, and that’s where my focus is right now.”