The return of the zombies

Sunday, 22 December 2013 - 11:24am IST | Agency: DNA

It’s not quite the year of the zombie but a fair number are taking over popular culture. The latest has been Zombie Rising, a graphic novel that is a tie-in to the Luke Kenny starrer Rise Of The Zombie that released earlier this year. The first two sections of the novel are grunge-ish, inspired by Hellboy and Vertigo, but the final chapter has a more modern, American comic book style. Zombie Rising will be released today at the Comic Con in Mumbai. Joanna Lobo caught up with writer Devaki Singh, creative director Luke Kenny and Chariot Comics executive editor Aniruddho for their take on a breed of superheroes and characters independent from religion and mythology. Edited excerpts:

Why a zombie graphic novel?
Luke: The zombie genre is a bigger core component of pop culture, as are comics, and by extension graphic novels. When we released India’s first zombie origin film, Rise of the Zombie (ROTZ), it was with the intent of tapping the entire gamut of pop culture enthusiasts with an indigenous product. And now that the film was out and available on home video platforms, it was time to roll out the next level of the genre-related pop culture component.

Devaki: Internationally, zombies are quite popular. But in India, it’s still a newish phenomenon. I’m quite a horror geek and like to seek out new films, comics in the genre. Since we made a zombie movie, we wanted to expand the concept and take it wider. Especially since I’m not aware of any other Indian zombie comic or graphic novel.

Rise of the Zombies didn’t do very well in the theatres...do you think this will affect the novel?
Luke: The commerciality of the theatrical release is not as relevant to the sales of the novel, as both are vastly different mediums. Both will drive each other in terms of reach and ongoing relative activities.

Aniruddho: To be honest, as Luke said, both properties will feed off each other (zombie pun alert!). The indie comic book movement in India is still nascent, but growing, so sales figures are least of our worries. The point for us, as Chariot Comics, is to go out there and tell stories which no one else is willing to tell and a zombie film tie-in graphic novel is definitely a first. So we were more than happy to collaborate and put our collective efforts behind this. 

Isn’t it too late to cash in on the zombie mania?
Luke: The emergence of zombie culture started way back in 1968 when the legendary George Romero created and released his landmark film Night of the Living Dead. It has been about 44 years and zombie-related ‘everything’ is still coming out. So one is never too late for a zombie apocalypse.

Devaki: I don’t see much zombie presence in India, hardly in fact. Everything zombie is international. That’s why even our film is not treated Bollywood style. It is world cinema in its treatment but with a completely desi flavour. So zombie fans anywhere in the world can watch/read and not find it out-of-sync with their sensibilities. .

What is Zombie Rising about? Is it a series or just a one-off novel?

Luke: The story takes place in the same universe as the film, yet it has no connection with its storyline. However, connections are made via common characters. As for it being a series, there are many thoughts and ideas, we’ll have to see how it goes.

Devaki: As of now, it’s a spin-off to the film. Incidents that happen a few years before ROTZ. We had originally intended to make sequel films, the continuing story to ROTZ. But if that doesn’t work out, we might consider telling our complete story via graphic novels.

What is the research done for this graphic novel?
Luke: We wanted to make sure that the story remains as original and Indian as possible. There is tons of zombie-related material out there so apart from the storytelling it’s the components and the characters that would bring the needed gravitas to what we were doing. And having isolated those thoughts, the story emerged to what you read on the panelled page.

Devaki: I’ve been a zombie fan for a very long time now. I’ve seen films made over the decades, right from George Romero to Danny Boyle, even some old black and white ones. So I have loads of know-how about established zombie beliefs, even though it’s all fictitious. But in the world of zombie geeks, they are accepted. Thus we decided to set the story in India, and retell a zombie scenario in our way.
 
Will you be trying to bust zombie myths or create new ones?

Luke: Zombies are a result of humanity gone wrong, and there is no myth to that, just a harsh, ever mutating truth. So as long as that truth exists, myths are the material that create legends.

Devaki: We are just establishing our zombie world yet showing the possible beginning of an outbreak. So, as I said, hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to further our story.


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