Drawn Of The Dead

Comic Heroes - - Front Page -

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.”

Zom­bies: bug- eyed and loose of neck. It all gets a bit bloody in the Big Ap­ple. The sham­bling hordes. In chains.

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