With the newly launched Genesis series at Double Take, which consists of 10 titles in a day in the Night of the Living Dead universe, I sat down to interview Jeff McComsey, the writer of Z-men.
As we ignored the buzz of swarms of comic enthusiasts at the 2015 New York Comic Con, Jeff spoke on the ambitious project overall, his role in the creation of converting such an incredible world built on film to the comic book medium, and his own zombie comics in the series.
**SPOILER ALERT FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE**
The George A. Romero film is one of the most compelling, thrilling and frightening horror films to date and did a lot to invent the zombie trope that we have today, as is seen in the hugely popular Walking Dead comics and TV series and a host of other works.
Jeff’s graphic novel Z-men has actually been pegged for a movie rendition.
Z-men’s innovative new take on government reeling in a zombie crisis in the mid-1960’s is thrilling, humorous, and a fresh and gritty look at society near the end, or rather at the very start of the zombie apocalypse.
The Secret Service characters of Clancy and Stuart have a realistically hilarious and interesting relationship, as America’s ‘cops on the scene.’
The backdrop of Genesis, of course, is the Night of the Living Dead and the ten books in the monthly series each take place from entirely different stories, characters, and creators at the same time in that haunted world.
Jeff is also co-writing Rise with Michael Coast, where two of the characters from the Night of the Living Dead movie, Barbara and Johnny, are thrust back into the graveyard of their nightmares for the opening pages.
The ten books’ storylines include numerous crossovers that will take place as characters journey into some of the other books in the series.
In one word Double Take’s Genesis is EPIC!
R.J.: Everybody is loving zombies nowadays, but I really love the Night of the Living Dead, I am a huge fan of the original [film] . . . is that something that you were a part of, putting together the ten different aspects of [Double Take’s Genesis]?
Jeff: Well originally . . . when [Double Take] first started, I had done some zombie [work] and they asked if I’d be interested in doing the Night of the Living Dead stuff, and I said, ‘Of course!’
So I got on very early . . . so I got to help figure out what some of these different books would be. So I definitely wanted to do a book that was about Johnny and Barbara, which would be Rise, and I then I had pitched them Z-men, about two secret service agents who go to investigate what goes on [in the 1968 zombie outbreak].
We do story meetings once a month . . . it’s cool being in the loop about everything, not just the books that I’m working on.
My background, I like to do historical fiction, and being able to do Z-men and put words in McNamara’s mouth, and Lyndon Johnson’s mouth was super fun, a lot of fun.
And I also kind of like the buddy cop aspect that you get with Z-men: a couple of guys being assholes and that kind of fun stuff.
RJ: Something I’ve always been interested in is the secret agent aspect. If the shit were to hit the fan . . . what is the government going to be doing?
Jeff: I like the idea that these guys are essentially federal agents and they show up in Pennsylvania and everybody there is more or less local law enforcement. They can waive those badges around and pretty much do whatever they want.
The fun part about doing Z-men was picking two guys that weren’t James Bond types. LBJ realizes something terrible is going on down there and he wants to send two guys, but of course he doesn't want to send the best guys, because he wants the best guys watching his ass. So he picks two guys who are steady, but aren’t going to be missed if something terrible happens [to them].
RJ: It was very compelling, the beginning, where you have a citizen tearing through [a checkpoint] and now you have some civilian soldier that shoots him; I don't think enough attention is paid to the very start of some of previous [zombie stories], but do you feel that you really set a [defining] tone with that in Z-men? In just a couple pages starting off this whole series, you have the moral issues and everybody examining them.
Jeff: To me, the scariest aspect of a zombie attack, or really any major catastrophe that would affect the whole United States, it isn’t the zombies, for instance, it’s how people will react to it.
You know how people react when they’re scared: they’re armed. I just knew it would not go smoothly. Even fire drills don’t go smoothly. You add fear and guns, and it’s going to be bad, you know?
RJ: Can you speak to where you may go from Pennsylvania [with the characters]?
Jeff: Oh definitely. The first three issues will take place in Pennsylvania, but then there’s going to be this big event. And these stories are told in 1966, and they will continue, but there will also be somewhere we jump forward in time. Some of those are going to be modern, so there’ a lot of pretty cool things we’re going to see from the aftermath of this event, and how they’ve shaped the world up until nowadays.
Look out for POWkabam.com’s review of the first three issues of Z-men, coming soon!
“Interview Explores Night of the Living Dead Comic: Z-men” was written by R.J. Huneke
Artists looking at art.