September 29, 2010

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Dope Fiends of the Zombie Cafe!

Written by Sean Frost
Illustrated by Rafer Roberts
Hula Cat Comics

What do you get when you cross Reefer Madness with Zombies and throw in some other drive-in movie cliches? A really fun mini-comic that is just about as insane as you'd expect when one of the creators from the ongoing series Plastic Farm is involved.

As our story begins, the typical wise old man warns the reader of deadly dangers of the Zombie Cafe. Not unlike a certain criminologist, he'll float in and out of the story, and serve as both a framing device and a parody of those devices. In that role, Frost's script and Roberts' subtle artistic decisions succeed extremely well.

Within the framing device are a group of horrible school children, a mad scientist working with forces beyond his control, a clueless set of teenagers, and of course, a whole bunch of brainless beatniks. None of these folks are people you'd want over for dinner, but their twisted antics come together in unlikely yet well-plotted ways to create a new crop of zombies that must be stopped before they spread across the nation and destroy our wholesome country.

It's really hard for me to get excited about a zombie story these days, because they're all over the place. Want to bang out a comic? Add zombies to it. This comic actually dates back to 2004, before this really became a problem, but I could see it getting lost at a festival where zombies rule the day.

That would be a shame, because the skill here is quite strong. Frost's premise for how the zombies are created (let's just say it involves rabbits and leave it at that) is absolutely inspired and the complete amorality of the doctor makes you want to turn the page to see how horrible he can get. In the other half of the plot, the parody of beatniks, while familiar, has quite a few great one-liners, especially when the zombies start going to town in a coffee shop.

Not everything is original, of course, but that's okay. You can only kill a zombie so many ways, for instance, and the breaking of the 4th wall has been done so many times if anyone had copyrighted it they'd be richer than Bill Gates. However, Frost's writing and Roberts' ability to portray these terrible characters doing awful things raise it to a level above the competition.

You really have to have an appreciation of old horror movies for this one to work best for you, though zombie story fans can also find a lot to enjoy, if they're looking for serious instead of silly. If the idea of a zombie parody with movie homages on most of the pages appeals to you, give this a try if you can find it. Your life may depend on it!*


*Probably not, actually. But it sounds cool!