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The Mammoth Book of Zombie Comics
posted November 17, 2008
 

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Creators: David Kendall, Vincent Locke, Scott Hampton, Robert E. Howard, Steve Niles, Roy Boney, Darko Macan, Buddy Scalera, Josh Medors, Stephen Blue, Jon Ayre, Edvin Biukovic, Askold Akishin, Kieron Gillen, Andy Bloor, Matthew Shephard, I'm sure some other people the book didn't make it very easy to list
Publishing Information: Running Press, softcover, 480 pages, October 2008, $17.95
Ordering Numbers: 97880762433988 (ISBN13)

These giant-sized Mammoth books of various genre comics have a greatly appealing price point for the number of pages and stories offered and would be a perfect gift except for one slight problem: most of them simply aren't very good. The high end of the series is almost certainly the crime book to which Paul Gravett contributed his editorial talents, drawing on a deep store of pre-code work and making judicious choices in general. David Kendall's take on the zombie genre (really a sub-sub-genre) has to be at the low end for these books. I counted four strikes. It doesn't include work from the giant in that part of comics, Robert Kirkman. It concentrates on mostly recent work and thus doesn't really work as a fun, archival project the way books like this might. A lot of the work is simply poor, scattershot or uninspired. The way it presents its best story, Scott Hampton's adaptation of Pigeons From Hell, doesn't flatter that work. (I'm not sure if Hampton's original was color or not, but I suspect it was, and I know it was never this muddy.)

What you're left with is a few cute comics with a craft element or two. I think the work I liked best was the Darko Macan/Edvin Biukovic effort, which was in no way a major undertaking but was funny and well drawn. There's a great panel in there of how a certain beautiful woman dominated a social scene that's laugh out loud funny for the way it sums up the situation in this kind of shameless, cartoony way. Beyond that, you're really rattling your gold pan to find something attractive. I always liked Stephen Blue's comics, so I was happy to read a several-page effort here, but the treatment of the concept involved (zombies awaken near the home of the serial killer that's been burying them) didn't go anyplace particularly interesting and the narrative itself dragged. I felt like that with a lot of the stories. Robbed of its more attractive qualities, I found the Hampton literally difficult to follow, without the compensating beauty of the individual panels to balance the register. If this is the best that zombie comics has to offer outside of Robert Kirkman's monthly crack-on-paper soap opera Walking Dead, I think I'm happy to shoot the whole lot of them in the brain pan and keep moving.