Land Of The Monster Bash Convention (2018)

Welcome back to Rotten Ink. I hope you have your bag packed already as it’s that time of the year once again when you all take a trip with me and Juliet as we head to Monster Bash in Mars, PA for a fun time of celebrating classic monsters and 200 years of Frankenstein’s Monster! I have been looking forward to taking time away from work, filming movies and working on comics for some time now, and what better way to do so than to hang out with fellow classic monster lovers as well as my gal pal Juliet in an area that is starting to feel like my home away from home, Cranberry Township. I cannot wait to see what classic monster car is parked up front and what statues await us inside the convention. I do have a feeling that they will be of The Monster through the ages as that seems to make the most sense. Not to mention, I am looking forward to eating at places like Moe’s and Eat’n Park plus visiting Evans City Cemetery to soak in all the horror movie magic that was shot there. So lets hop into the Mazda 3 and find some music and podcasts to listen to and make our way to Monster Bash! Oh and for this update, I am sure you guessed it, that we will be taking a look at Land Of The Dead, the fourth film in the Romero Dead series and the IDW comic adaption of it! Let’s head out to the highway and have fun along the way.

Juliet and I hit the road on June 21, 2018 and spent most of the drive chatting about comics, music and wrestling and even had to make our way through random rainstorms. As always, we stopped at the Ruby Tuesdays on the border of Ohio and West Virginia where Juliet ate a grilled chicken salad, and I had blackened salmon with rice and a loaded baked potato. It was super tasty! Once back on the road we continued chatting and time seemed to go by fast…that was until we entered Cranberry, and traffic was backed up due to a car on fire! Passing the car that was being surrounded by the fire department, we both hoped the person driving made it out of the car okay. This year we also had to stay at a new hotel as our beloved Comfort Inn was filled, and so we stayed at the fancy Hyatt and man was the room big! After relaxing and watching some TV, we decided to have Eat ‘N Park for dinner where I had a hot turkey sandwich with mash potatoes & gravy as well as fried pickles! And of course, I had to have a smile cookie as what is a trip to Eat ‘N Park without one? After dinner we watched more TV and planned our next day as it was the first day of Monster Bash!

Waking up in the morning, we got ready for our day as Monster Bash did not open until 3pm so we headed to New Dimension Comics to look around for a few minuets. While there, I found a few comics to read and add to my collection like Web Of Spider-Man # 25 & 35, Hercules # 1,7 & 9 from DC, Where Creatures Roam # 8 and Southern Blood # 0. After comic shopping we headed to lunch at Max & Erma’s where I scarfed down a turkey burger with fries, and all the while Juliet and I chatted about our plans for the day. We then went to Barns and Nobles, and I found a really cool Funko Pop Figure of The Mummy based on the 2017 film from Universal. Then we returned to the room and waited for Monster Bash to start! Check out the pics below to see the fun stuff from the morning.

At 3:00pm Juliet and I headed to Monster Bash 2018, and the car outside was not around yet. We got into the line in order to get tickets, and man did it move fast! Once inside, the wonders of all types of classic monsters surrounded us as the amazing statues this year featured Frankenstein’s Monster from the ages as full body versions of The Monster were all around, from the classic 1931 Karloff version all the way to the one in Monster Squad and others had busts like the 1910 Edison version…so amazing and all well done! But my favorite one this year was not Frankenstein’s Monster at all, but John Carradine as Dracula in House Of Frankenstein! Once inside the dealer room, we saw all types of great stuff like toys, movies, comics, books, soundtracks, posters and art and much of it was really, really cool! We were also happy to see Horror Hosts Janet Decay and Grimm Gorri, who are amazing and wonderful people and are super nice. Also on hand was Son Of Ghoul, a true icon of Horror Hosting. While looking around, we saw some amazing Halloween Masks and even took a walk around a room filled with classic posters and lobby cards. Once we walked around for a while, we bought some amazing stuff and headed back to the hotel to unwind and get ready for our first dinner and a movie night. Check out the pics below to see some of the amazing sights of this first day.

So I am sure you’re all wondering what goodies I got on this first day’s haul…and man, did I find some cool stuff! For movies I got Attack Of The 50ft. Woman, Phantom Of Hollywood on DVD for $20.00 each and Creature With The Atom Brain for $10.00! Comic wise, I found The Young Witches # 1 for only $2.00! I found an Imperial King Kong for $20.00 and a King Kong windup for $5.00! And for paperback books I got Ben and Freddy vs. Jason for $5.00 each, and for only $1.00 each I got Tales From The Crypt Demon Knight and Dick Tracy: Secret Files. So as you can see, we did really well this first day and I was very pleased with what I was able to get for good prices. Check out the pic down below to see l my haul in all its glory!

We decided that the first night of Monster Bash would be our night to eat Wing Kings and watch a movie on the laptop with the night’s feature being Attack Of The 50ft. Woman as it’s been one I have wanted to revisit for some time now. So I ordered some Garlic Wings and some fried pickles and a coke to drink! When we are in Cranberry, both Juliet and I look forward to eating at Wing Kings as they have really great wings and we have yet to have a bad meal from them. So huddled by the laptop with our food, we watched a classic science fiction horror film about a massive and mean woman causing mayhem in a city gripped by fear. And after dinner and the movie, we spent the night gearing up for Day 2 and watching New Japan Pro Wrestling and LFA MMA on TV, and I read a some comic book.

Day two started with Juliet and I eating breakfast and then us heading to the Monster Bash! The weather outside was looking like bad storms coming and would make Doctor Frankenstein very happy. To me, this was very fitting weather for this classic monster convention. Once walking in again, a rush of good vibes surrounded me as I saw familiar faces and classic monster movies and memorabilia all around. That’s what sets Monster Bash apart from all other Horror Cons, the vibe is so chill and it’s all about the movies and monsters and not the parties. After walking around for a bit, we bought some amazing stuff and looked at some cool things and headed out to do some more fun stuff in Cranberry!

I am sure you’re also wondering what cool things I ended up getting on Day 2 of Monster Bash. Just like before, I think I found some pretty cool items. I got two wood plaques to hang in my house of King Kong and Gorgo for $25.00 each, a VHS copy of Konga for only $3.00 and a DVD of a documentary called Beast Of Whitehall for $15.00. Plus I got a lot of six Monster In My Pocket figures including werewolf and Lochness for $5.00! Over all another great haul and some very cool items I am looking forward to adding to my collection.

We hit the roads of Cranberry and ended up back at New Dimension Comics where I found 40 dollars books that were sold to me at half price making the whole pile $20.00 plus tax! I found lots of great indie titles as well as a few Avengers comics that I will be reading while here. We then went to Moe’s Southwest Grill for lunch, and I had a tasty chicken burrito. After that we had TCBY and chatted about creative ideas. That’s the thing about Juliet and I, we talk a lot to each other and mostly about life and creative things…it’s nice to have a partner you gel with really well. After spending some time out in the city, we headed back to the hotel to relax and plan our second night of Dinner and a Movie.

For our second dinner and a movie, we chose something more simple and ate Bob Evans takeout where I had roasted chicken with sides, and we watched the 1955 Science Fiction Horror Movie “Creature With The Atom Brain”, a pretty cheesy motion picture that features brain-dead reanimated zombies who are being controlled by a crime boss to get revenge on his enemies. The food was pretty good, and the film was okay making for a start to a fun night. For the rest of the night, we read and watched TV and chatted more about creative ideas for future comics that could be in the works for Sparkle Comics.

June 24, 2018 was the final day of Monster Bash and we started our morning by getting breakfast at Pig Iron Public House where I once again had the Chorizo Hash. If you ever find yourself at a Pig Iron for brunch, I recommend it. And once done we made our way to Monster Bash to once more soak it all in and have one last day of shopping. The last day of Monster Bash is always a sad one as the fun weekend is coming to an end, and I know it will be another year before I can do the next convention. When walking in as well we watched for a moment as they broke down the Frankenstein Monster’s and took a glance at The Blob for the last time for the weekend. We walked around and had good conversations with Janet Decay and Grimm Gorri as well as with Ken and Pam of Cinema Wasteland. As we made our final rounds, I was on the look out for my pal David “The Rock” Nelson as I wanted to pick up some more of his amazing shot on video films and wanted to chat with him about life in general, and I sent him a message on Facebook the night before that he did not get to read and it looked like we were going to miss him until the monster Gods smiled down on us, and we ran into each other at the place I selected in the message! Once catching up with David and picking up some of his movies, Juliet and I headed out, and that was a wrap for Monster Bash 2018.

The last day’s haul were great and all stuff that I wanted and most at fair prices. I got another Imperial Dracula that was in fantastic shape for only $15.00! I also picked up six more Monster In My Pocket figures and paid once more $5.00 for the lot. I got Super Powers Which Way Book 2: Supergirl paperback book for only $2.00! I got issues 1-5 of Escape Of The Living Dead signed by John Russo and released by Avatar for $12.00. And for movies I got Kraa! The Sea Monster on DVD for $8.00, Red Sands DVD for only $1.00 and the best buys of the trip being the three David “The Rock” Nelson film I got for $20.00 each that are “Bigfoot Runs Amok!”, “Dinosaur Woman” and “The Giant Horny Toad Monster” all films I very much looking forward to watching. Not a bad year for finds at Monster Bash 2018.

After leaving Monster Bash, we headed to get more bottled water for our stay and while at the store, we also picked up the Universal and Blumhouse film Stephanie. We then made our way to The Snowman where we hung out near the horses and I drank a Yeti Milkshake. As always the shake was fantastic as was the atmosphere around the Snowman as it had just rained before we showed up. We then left and walked around the small cemetery that’s connected to the Portersville Bible Church, a very peaceful place with a great view of woods and farmland. Juliet and I walked for a while and looked at the land all around as well as paid our respects to the people buried in the cemetery. Once done we headed back to the Hotel and we read, chatted and watched a little TV until dinner and a movie round 3.

For our third dinner and movie, we chose to once more get take out from Eat ’N Park and the 4hr film “Dinosaur Woman” directed by David Nelson as we are both big fans of his independent shot on video monsta movies. While the food was good, the movie was the best part of the night as watching David’s films are an event all to themselves as they are epic and filled with lots of fun and over the top horror and characters. After Dinner and the movie, we ended up watching Kong: Skull Island on HBO and planning our next day of events!

Monday June 25th marked the first day after Monster Bash, and we started our morning by going to Cranberry Cinema and seeing “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” This is a fun one to see in the theater and as always Cranberry Cinema proved why they are better than most major chains as they gave Juliet and I each a free popcorn to munch on as we watched our movie. After the film we headed back to Moe’s for lunch, and we ate and talked about the film as well as the possibility of scientist cloning saber tooth tigers. After lunch we headed back to the hotel and Juliet and I read and played “Super Powers Which Way Book 2: Supergirl” as Juliet read it out loud I had to choose the path of Supergirl! And lucky for me I was able to have Supergirl save the day and make it out of the land of OZ, yep my adventure took me to OZ! After the book adventure I read some more comic books and worked on a few things for Sparkle Comics as well as updates for future Rotten Ink updates. We chose to have Wing Kings again for dinner and watched WWE Monday Night Raw on USA for the evening’s entertainment. After Raw I ended up reading a little more and watched a little TV before bed and geared up for Evan City.

We woke up early and checked out of our hotel and hit the road heading toward Mars in order to get a morning cup of coffee from Mars Brew House as they are also a must when we are in Pennsylvania, and as always the coffee was great! We then walked to the UFO in the middle of the small town and chatted for a moment about the second issue of Wolf Hunter that we hope will be released soon from Sparkle Comics, as well as chatted about the amazing small town feel of Mars. Once done chatting we jumped back into the Mazda 3 and headed for Evans City.

After leaving Mars we ended up in Evans City and were sad when we remembered that The Living Dead Museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays so we could not go in for a visit. But all was well again once we pulled into Evans City Cemetery, and we walked around once more in the shooting location of Night Of The Living Dead and the atmosphere once more recharged my creative batteries as ideas for comics, movies and blog updates filled my head. This time around we also took time and read tombstones and paid our respects to those buried there, and Juliet and I just talked and enjoyed the sunshine. We spent some time in the cemetery before we headed out and ending our wave 1 of our vacation.

Back home from Monster Bash and Cranberry, I still had a few days left of vacation and so on June 30, 2018 Juliet and I had ourselves a very cool Horror Movie Marathon that was filled with lots of great and independent horror’s from our to be watched stack of DVDs. We also loaded up one some great eats like chips and breakfast casserole and decided on buffalo chicken and baked potatoes for dinner. The first movie of the marathon was the 1931 version of “Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde” that is about a poor doctor who experiment turns him into a sinister foul person who calls himself Hyde. The next film was “The Man With Two Heads” that was cheesy cult director Andy Milligan’s version of Jekyll and Hyde that follows William Jekyll and his transformation into Danny Blood. The third chiller feature was the indie horror creature flick called “Cryptid” about a pint sized government made creature on a rampage! Next up we had “Manhater” about a woman whose anger at men becomes a living demon who gets revenge for her. Shot on video film “Cemetery Sisters” was next and was about sisters who married and killed men in order to get money to open a mortuary. We then watched “Phantom Of The Opera” a modern 2014 reimagining of the classic story. The seventh film of the marathon was the spooky found footage film “Hell House LLC”. We then viewed “Dark Shade Creek 2” that is an independent slasher film. The cheesy “Ghost Of Camp Blood” was next and has the evil spirit of the clown mask killer looking for revenge. That was followed up by “Monkey Farm” a chilling tale about a research monkey that could possible be more than that. The chilling horror anthology “10/31” was next and delivered some frights. And our final fright flick of the night was “Carnivore: Werewolf Of London” about a couple at a cabin fighting for their lives against a werewolf. What a fun filled day with lots of great Horror Movies and a cool way to relax with Juliet.

The day was filled with some great films and some that were just okay and one that was hands down the Golden Turkey winner for both Juliet and myself and that’s Cryptid as this film was terribly paced and had some of the most useless main hero characters I have seen in a film for quit some time. I will say that the creature of the film was cool and well done and shows that this movie could have been something better with a good script. For me picking the top three spots was kind of an easy one with my # 1.) being Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) as this is a great classic monster film that was released the same time as Universal started making their Monster films and was Paramount’s way of cashing in, plus the acting is fantastic as is the look of Mr. Hyde. For me # 2.) was 10/31 an amazing modern horror anthology film that has every segment take place on Halloween, I found myself enjoying every segment and the score was top notch, this is one fright flick I think every one should view on Halloween. My # 3.) was a hard one to choose as I enjoyed so many but I had to go with Hell House LLC. as I found it to be one of the better found footage horror flicks I have seen in quite awhile, the mood and feel of the movie is fantastic! I must say that a runner up for 3rd for me was Manhater as I also found it well done and enjoyed the super sexy demon lady. Juliet’s top three of the marathon went like this # 1.) 10/31…#2.) Hell House LLC…#3.) Phantom Of The Opera (2014)! As always the Horror Movie Marathon is a great relaxing time and event I look forward to doing multiple times a year.

I am sure you’re all wondering what fiend for this Horror Movie Marathon won the Golden Chainsaw award, and I am here to tell you it was the weird small monster from Cryptid! This little guy racked up a body count of 16 people and possibly more…while the movie was not great and was the Golden Turkey for both of us, it still wracked up a body count. His best kill of the film is eating the skin off a woman’s face, a brutal and a cool indie effect. So here is to you, Cryptid monster for all your bloodshed.

George A. Romero made a perfect zombie Horror Movie trilogy starting with the 1968 film Night Of The Living Dead and ending with Day of The Dead that was released in 1985. For years afterward, the godfather of zombie films stayed away from the world ruled by the dead he created. But 20 years after his last film, he returned to that world when in 2005 he released Land Of The Dead to moviegoers. So if you’re ready to get aboard Dead Reckoning, and go on a supply run for the rich, I think it’s time we take a look at Land Of The Dead!

In 2004, Zack Snyder and James Gunn released a remake of Dawn Of The Dead for Universal Studios, and the film sparked interest back in fans and Universal for Horror Movies that featured zombies. While the remake of his film Dawn Of The Dead was in production, George A. Romero was trying to also get a fourth film of his Dead series into production and was dealing with 20th Century Foxfor the film he was calling Twilight Of The Dead as it’s working title. Fox wanted him to call the movie “Night Of The Living Dead” as they wanted to own the rights to a new franchise, and even when he said no and wanted to call it “Dead Reckoning,” they came back with the title “Night Of The Living Dead: Dead Reckoning” and this greedy nature of Fox made Romero seek a new studio to produce the new film.  Enter Universal once more to release a new zombie film for movie goers. The film’s script had elements of the original Day Of The Dead script, and the film’s title was changed to Land Of The Dead. Universal put lots of money into the film with the rumored budget being $15 million making it the highest budget in the Dead series! While Romero wrote and directed, he hired lots of talented actors in big roles like John Leguizamo, Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento and Tom Savini to name a few and even had such stars as Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Gregory Nicotero cameo as zombies. Filming went well, and it was released in theaters on June, 24 2005 and was meet with mostly positive reviews from both critics and fans and did pretty well at the box office bringing in $46,770,602.00 worldwide and was #112 for the year at the US Box Office. In 2005 these other Horror Movies were released Saw II, The Descent, Devil’s Rejects, Ring Two, Wolf Creek, House Of Wax, Cry Wolf, Hellraiser: Deader, The Skeleton Key and Boogeyman to name a few showing that the world of Horror was very much alive and bringing in movie goers and home video watchers. So as you can see, Land Of The Dead might have been lost in the shuffle slightly at the Box Office it still has made it mark on the world of horror and shows that no one knew zombies better than Romero.

As a youngster I was really into music and when moving from Waynesville to Kettering I was the odd Monster Metalhead Kid who had a chip on his shoulder and would spend his time after school listening to the likes of Billy Idol, Alice Cooper and Motley Crue on vinyl and cassette and would call the local radio station The Edge and request songs from the likes of Adam Ant and became friends with the DJ Scott Mallory who ended up years later giving me advanced tickets to see Land Of The Dead in the theater before its release date. I was able to bring many of my friends as going with me was my then girlfriend Misty as well as my brother Bryan and my pals Andy Copp and Josh Weinberg, and I can remember waiting in line and all of us being so excited to see it, and after the movie we all left with the fact we enjoyed it but it seemed a little too polished. And what we all liked is the message of the rich using the poor as at the time that feeling among the hardworking low income was dealing with that in George W. Bush’s America. I was also really happy that Asia Argento was in it as she was one of the best foreign genre actresses going at the time. Plus the film’s effects were good minus the use of CGI blood in spots as that always looks terrible. The things from the movie that I was not that big of a fan of was the focus of the film being the rolling armored vehicle Dead Reckoning as it was large and silly and seemed like something from a video game. The other thing I was not sold on was the lead zombie Big Daddy who is showing signs of intelligence naturally and felt pain as his fellow zombies were shot and killed. But with these things I didn’t like I over all really did enjoy this film and found it to be a great sequel to Night Of The Living Dead and proved that with a budget Romero could make something very special for fans. When the film was released to home media I bought the DVD and still own and watch it from time to time till this day. While this might not be the best in the Dead series it’s by no means the worst, as that honor goes to the 6th film in the series “Survival Of The Dead”. If you have not seen this film do yourself a favor and watch it late one stormy night and open the windows to allow a breeze to role in and enjoy this zombie filled romp.

Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek handled the score for Land Of The Dead and brought something fresh and new and yet still has a very classic feel to it. The mood of the music is dark when needed and filled with action when moments call for it. While I feel it’s not as iconic of a score as the work of Goblin or John Harrison from the past two sequels, I still find it very solid and is worth listening to and even have played it on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO during October. This score can be found on CD and via Digital and was released by Varese Sarabande and is a great release for fans who collect Horror Movie scores.

Like the films in the series before it, Land Of The Dead has had its fair share of merchandise that delivered cool items for the fans. Items like posters, soundtrack, t-shirts, buttons and comics all came out. Action figures were made by Sorta Toys that were highly detailed and figures of almost the all the main zombies were made including Big Daddy and The Butcher. Also made was a Video Game that was exclusive to the original XBOX called “Land Of The Dead: Road To Fiddler’s Green” that was a first person shooter that had you trying to fight through hordes of the undead in order to get the promise land of Fiddler’s Green, the game was not well rated by fans and critics but still offered something cool for fans of the film. Over the years I have owned the comics, mini poster and soundtrack of this film. So if you love Land Of The Dead, there is lots of cool stuff for you to collect.

As I said one of the biggest pluses for Land Of The Dead for me has to be the fact the very lovely Asia Argento was cast as main character Slack. For those who don’t know who Asia is, shame on you as she is the daughter of director Dario Argento and has acted in such classic films as Demons 2, The Church, Phantom Of The Opera, Scarlet Diva, xXx, Mother Of Tears and Dracula 3D to name a few. She also has directed some films like The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things and Misunderstood. Sadly in modern news Asia was one of the victims of the scumbag movie producer Harvey Weinstein and sadly was victim-shamed in her own homeland of Italy causing her to have to move to Germany to escape the media’s hurtful words. I for one stand with Asia Argento and hope that Harvey gets what’s coming to him, and that Asia after this drama ends returns to making Horror Movies and Cult Films as I for one am looking forward to her future in films. Check out the pictures below to see Asia Argento as Slack from Land of The Dead.

So we are at the electric and guarded gates of Fiddler’s Green and that must mean we are at the point of taking a look at the comic adaption of our film of the hour Land Of The Dead that was released by IDW. And while we try and find our way in and get shelter from these terrible flesh-eating zombies I would like to thank Bell Book And Comic and Lone Star Comic for having these issues in stock to make this update possible and I would also like to remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So I can hear Big Daddy groaning off in the distance which means that the zombies are on their way so let’s get to reading these comics before we all become a snack for them!

Land Of The Dead # 1  ***
Released in 2005      Cover Price $3.99       IDW      # 1 of 5

Riley and his crew that include Charlie, Cholo and Pretty Boy (to name a few) control the combat truck called Dead Reckoning and are on a supply run in a small town that is overrun by zombies. Riley is noticing that the zombies seem to be getting smarter and are trying to mimic their old human lives and seem to be communicating with each other now. This is his last night in command of this group, and he wants it to go smoothly but when Cholo goes off track and leads to a rookies death, and one of their biker members is knocked from his motorcycle and eaten by the undead his mission turned sour. The zombies now have seemed to come together and are ready to take the fight to the living. When back safe Riley and Cholo get into it over the antics back in town, and as they separate Riley and Charlie go to find a man named Chihuahua who owns Riley a car at his bar that includes a zombie fight cage! While Cholo is turned away from getting an apartment in the upper class high rise building called Fiddlers Green by the Mr. Kaufman who runs the town. As Cholo is leaving he beats up the security officers who have been told to kill him.

The dead are getting smarter and the living are still fighting among themselves over greed plus power and money! Our story follows the crew of Dead Reckoning and their two men in charge and their lives in a world of corruption and he dead. Our main hero is Riley who is the man in charge of the crew and after their last mission is retiring and is wanting to get a car and leave the area behind him. But sadly for him looks like his money has been taken and his car is just a pipedream and the man he was buying it from is clearly a con man. Charlie is a simple man who has one side of his face burnt and is the closest friend to Riley and is like his right hand man. Cholo is reckless and self-serving but also has most of the crews respect as he gets results, not to mention he also does all the dirty work for Mr. Kaufman and once his rich boss turned on him it’s clear there will be hell to pay! Mr. Kaufman is clearly a smug rich man who enjoys his power over others and does not value those who get him his supplies or keep him safe. The world inside Fiddlers Green is posh and filled with shops and restaurants with armed guards while out side the town is kept safe by electric fences and soldiers with the people being poor and fight for the scraps. The zombies are all around the town and are getting smarter and are bounding together and seem to have had enough of the living! Big Daddy in this issue is really downplayed as he takes a back seat to the female athlete zombie who is the one that uses a tool to knock a biker off his bike for them to all snack on. This first issue holds pretty true to the film it was based on and yet holds a feel of its own making it a really good read. The cover for this issue is amazing and is very eye catching and reminds me of a zombie cover that you could have seen on an issue of The Dead or Dead Walkers. The interior art is also well done and is done by Gabriel Rodriguez who also did IDW’s “Lock & Key” and “Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland”. A very good zombie horror comic first issue that shows he respect to the film and also adds and takes away enough to make it feel like it’s own experience. Lets see what issue two has in store for us, shall we?

Land Of The Dead # 2   **1/2
Released in 2005      Cover Price $3.99       IDW     # 2 of 5

The zombies now being lead by the one called Big Daddy are making their way to the city and are taking the war to the living! Meanwhile Riley and Charlie while waiting on answers about the car watch as a young woman named Slack is thrown into the arena with two spray painted zombies with the crowd voting on what one will get her first. Riley and Charlie make the decision to save Slack and shoot the zombies and even have to kill the little man who was the key to Riley’s car and this leads to them all being arrested including Slack. Meanwhile Cholo and his crew steal Dead Reckoning just as the zombies have broken into the outer walls of the city! Cholo calls Mr. Kauffman and wants five million dollars or he will use the guns and missiles from Dead Reckoning to blow up Fiddlers Green. This worries Mr. Kauffman who refuses to pay the money and brings Riley up from jail and demands that he gets Dead Reckoning back and deal with Cholo once and for all.

The corruption of the ones in power is clearly putting the poor and working class at risk as Mr. Kauffman and his power has put everyone in the small secure town at risk no only from the zombies but also the one man he crossed that has the means and anger to do something about it. Kauffman is such a smug and overly confidante man who lives a posh life style and rubs elbows with the rich but also has his fingers in the underbelly of the town’s illegal activities. Cholo meanwhile is also a very cold person who really only looks out for himself as he wants his money and walks away from a zombie attack leaving people to die so that he can steal Dead Reckoning, and then once had threatens to blow up the town in order to get money. Riley and Charlie clearly make a great team and while Riley acts tough and cold it’s clear he cares about peoples life and that’s why he risks it all to save the life of a woman he didn’t even know. Slack is that woman who is a skilled fighter, but due to her good looks was forced into being a streetwalker by Kauffman and his crime connections, and once they find she is talking to a group of rebels set on one day fighting the powers that be she is arrested and set to be killed in the zombie arena. This issue has some blood, gore and is building the mood to what is to come, the one thing you will notice is that while the zombies are around they seem to be only a background plot. This issue also shows that Big Daddy is the one who is leading the zombie revelation and he and his fellow undead are attacking smartly and have made their way to the cities outer border. The cover for this issue I have is ok and is just a photo still taken from the film and is nothing special, while the interior art once more was done by Gabriel Rodriguez and is once more great stuff. This second issue is solid and builds the story and brings us to the main meat of the story and that’s Riley and crew going out to get Dead Reckoning back. So let’s see what issue three has in store for us!

Land Of The Dead # 3  ***
Released in 2005     Cover Price $3.99     IDW     # 3 of 5

Riley agrees to get back Dead Reckoning on the condition that Charlie and Slack are set free and join him and for a car to leave the city to head north. As Riley and his crew gear up they are forced to also take three soldiers with them that’s Motown a tough as nails female, Manolete a prideful soldier who is named after a bullfighter and the massive Samoan Pillsbury who is a mountain of a man. Once out to get supplies needed they also find the aftermath of the last zombie attack and know that the city is in danger multiple ways! While getting ammo and finding a jeep stray zombies are around the leaves Manolete bitten and having to be shot by Slack, and once far away from the city Riley and Charlie pull guns on Motown and Pillsbury and let them know that they are aware that Kauffman has sent them to kill them after they get back Dead Reckoning and give them an option of going along with the plan of Riley taken the massive vehicle or getting out of the jeep and walking back to the city…they decide to go along for the ride. Cholo and his crew load the weapons and are ready to flow Fiddler’s Green away as Riley and his crew are trying to catch up with them to stop it. But while they are playing war games Big Daddy and his zombie friends have gotten across the river and are on track to attack the city!

Mr. Kauffman is upping the game against Cholo in this game of power and greed as he sends out his own task force to get his stolen war machine back. Riley clearly only takes the job of getting Dead Reckoning back in order to save the innocent people who will be killed in this little power struggle. Riley while a loner and tough as nails always does what’s right and does his best to protect the innocent. Charlie as well is a good guy, who will kill to protect his friends and those who need help he is also very skilled with a gun and always has Riley’s back. Slack who only grew up in the city has never seen the outside world and it’s clear she don’t like what she sees, but she as well is a skilled fighter and has bounded with Riley and Charlie. Motown and Pillsbury are skilled fighters who clearly work for Kauffman and would have killed Riley and his friends when he mission was over, but know that they have to play along or be left for the dead. Cholo really does just want’s what’s owed to him and does not mind killing to get it! Big Daddy and his zombie horde are causing death and destruction and make meals out of soldiers and any human they come across! This issue also brings the blood and gore and shows that while the world is under attack by greed they are the true threats to mankind. The cover for this issue is pretty great and is eye catching for Horror Comic readers, with the interior art once more being done by Gabriel Rodriguez being solid and great stuff! Over all this third issue is fantastic and is holding true to this George Romero film.

Land Of The Dead # 4  ***
Released in 2005     Cover Price $3.99      IDW      # 4 of 5

Riley and his crew find Dead Reckoning and Pillsbury knocks out Motown who was planning on turning on the group and Riley and Charlie stand and meet Cholo and his crew who take the pair as hostages as Slack and Pillsbury hide in the shadows armed and ready to fire if things go south. When Riley uses a master control on Dead Reckoning to shut down its weapons Cholo and Riley get into a fight and this leads to the now woken up Motown to try and shoot them and one bullet hits Cholo and this also leads to her death as a zombie bites her and Slack putts a bullet in her brain. While at Fiddlers Green Mr. Kaufmann is stealing the cities money and is about to flee when he gets the call from Riley that Dead Reckoning has been recaptured, but when explosions in the city goes off they find out that the zombies lead by Big Daddy are in the city and want human flesh! Cholo and one of his friends decide to go and travel to Cleveland while Riley and the rest of them travel to the city and see if they can help as the city really is being taken over by the dead.

Things are really heating up as the zombies are in full force and have entered the city and are killing and eating anyone in their way. Riley and Charlie risk their own lives in order to get close to Dead Reckoning and Cholo and are able to pull off stopping the planned attack on the city. Riley once in control of the defense machine makes the decision to return to the city to help anyone he can from the zombies. Mr. Kauffman once more shows that he is a selfish person as when things get bad he tries to flee Fiddlers Green and is taking all the money of his residents! Kauffman really is a terrible person and one as a reader you really do want to see get his. Slack and Pillsbury are great back up for Riley as they watch his back during the stand off with Cholo. Speaking of Cholo that poor guy just can not win as in this issue he does not get his money, he does not get Dead Reckoning and worse gets shot and bite! This issue really has it all hit the fan as zombies are now working together and have gotten smarter and yet still want to eat and kill. The issue has lots of blood and zombie carnage and a pretty cool cover that features Slack who is played by Asia Argento predominately and again Gabriel Rodriguez did the interior art and is great stuff. So as you can see Dead Reckoning is in the hands of Riley who along with his crew are off to try and save the day. A great solid read and makes me look forward to see how the final issue plays out.

Land Of The Dead # 5  ***
Released in 2005     Cover Price $3.99     IDW     # 5 of 5

Riley and the crew of Dead Reckoning are on their way to try and save the innocent people of the city and they have to get a drawbridge to drop first and once more Riley risks his life in order to do so, and even must come face to face with some zombies! Meanwhile the now bitten and dying Cholo is dropped off near Fiddlers Green as he wants revenge of Mr. Kauffman who is also on the run as Big Daddy and the zombies have entered the building and are eating the rich. After Riley gets the bridge down they rush to the gates and find that many of the people have been killed by the zombies as the now fully dead Cholo has found Mr. Kauffman after he hid in a limo to get away from Big Daddy who had poured gasoline all over the limo and ground. The zombie Cholo attacks Kauffman by the limo and as the two tussle Big Daddy throws a flaming barrel at the limo that is covered in gas blowing up Kauffman and Cholo ending their greed once and for all. Meanwhile Riley is able save many lives when he fires missiles into a horde of zombies, as the survivors figure out what they want to do Riley, Charlie, Slack, Pretty Boy and the rest of the crew of Dead Reckoning all head to Canada as Big Daddy and the zombies head off back to the town they came from as their work and message was sent.

Wow this really was a great Horror Comic that does a great job of adapting the George Romero film and giving fans something more to have based on it. This issue has Riley doing what’s right and stopping Cholo from attacking the city, is able to keep onto Dead Reckoning and save lots of innocent lives from a zombie attack. Riley all through this comic mini series has been a real loner but it’s also clear he values the friendships he has in a world gone dead, plus it’s great that we have a hero in this comic and in the world it created that’s a true caring person with a tough edge. Charlie and Slack are as well loners who are looking for their own place in the world and find good friendship with each other as well as with Riley. It’s clear that Charlie owes his life to Riley who saved him from a very bad fire that left half his face scared. Slack meanwhile was a good soldier who was forced to be a prostitute who wants something better in life and for trying to better herself is sent to be killed by zombies in a arena cage, before she is rescued by Riley. Cholo is a man who has turned cold due to the world around him going to hell, his goal is to live the good life and once that is taken away from him he will do whatever he can to get his revenge. Mr. Kauffman is a rich scumbag who really only cares about himself and I love how in this comic series they keep his face hidden in shadow making him come off even more evil. Big Daddy and the rest of the zombies are flesh eaters who are adapting and learning and with their new smarts come’s skills in killing and eating humans. Land of the Dead is a film that translated really well to comics and IDW did a great job of making it happen and with this and as well as Dawn Of The Dead makes me wish they would have covered more of the films of George Romero like Day Of The Dead and even Survival Of The Dead. I also wish IDW would have made an ongoing comic series of Land as I would like to know what Riley, Charlie, Slack and the rest of Dead Reckoning is up to and what they found in Canada. The cover I have for this issue is fantastic and very eye catching and holds a classic indie zombie comic look, and the interior art by Gabriel Rodriguez is fitting for this title. Over all this is a very solid and good Horror Comic title based on a Horror Movie and is a nice comic series for fans of the film and is worth checking out for fans. Check out the art below to see how it looks in this comic and see the style of Rodriguez.

So as always super sad that our Monster Bash vacation has come to an end as I really do enjoy that Horror Convention and really love Cranberry, Mars and Evan City as they feel like my home away from home! Also sad as this is the last of the adaptation comics of the George A. Romero films based on zombies…I mean there are some more Night Of The Living Dead comics from the likes of Fantaco, Dead Dog and Avatar so who knows what next year will have in store for me to review for my Monster Bash Vacation. But for my next update, I will be leaving the world of Romero’s dead behind and once more be entering the world of Atlas Comics as I take a look at masked hero The Destructor! So until next time read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Romero film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for a bad guy bashing good time.

The Undead Files: The Dead

What is it about zombies that strike not only fear but also entertainment value with people? TV is filled with shows like The Walking Dead, Z-Nation and iZombie. Video games like Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising and Resident Evil are strong sellers. Not to mention comic book shelves are filled with many undead titles like ‘68, Walking Dead, Marvel Zombies and many Night Of The Living Dead titles. But what is it that draws us to the notion of the dead coming back to life to eat our brains or flesh? Why are we so obsessed with zombies, and why are they so ingrained into our culture now? In this Undead File Update, we will be taking a look at a comic book series made by Arrow Comics that pushed the envelope of gore and started many comic readers’ love for the underground gore comics and a series that inspired many artists and writers to make zombie comics of their own, The Dead. So be prepared to walk among the dead as we talk about this cult comic series among other things of the living dead nature.

Zombie Hand Coming From The Grave

The Lane To The Dead is an urban legend around these parts that was brought to the light of day thanks to the book series “Haunted Ohio” written by Chris Woodyard, who did a small write up about it.  I also heard other stories from people who claimed they knew about it as well. The story goes that there is abandon graveyard that sits deep in the woods that is walled off with not only brinks but also barbwire and razor wire to keep people out and something in! You see the graveyard in this undisclosed location is said to house zombies that were created by the government during experiments and when they found that they could not kill them…again they trapped them all in this cemetery that acts as a dumping ground for them. It’s said that you must walk a long dirt lane that leads to woods and when entering them you must walk miles deep to get to the cemetery, and you know when your close as the moans and noises of the zombies can be heard. When living in Waynesville when I was like in 4th or 5th grade a classmate who’s dad worked for the government told him that they have reanimated bodies but that they can only keep it “reanimated” for seconds before they pass again, does this story fit in with The Lane Of The Dead…I doubt it as I don’t believe what my classmate told me as almost the whole school watched Night of the Living Dead on TV the weekend before. When I was in my late teens Josh Weinberg and I tired all we could to find the Lane To The Dead and failed, as it’s doubtful it’s real…but if it is the undead walk among us here in Ohio!!

What I Think Lane Of The Dead Looks Like

The Toraja people of Indonesia have a ritual for burial and death, their culture has a fascination with it and can be seen all over their villages. You see they believe in the afterlife and this leads to them the funeral that can some times take place weeks or months after death as all family members must be present. The bodies are stored in the church in limestone caves or even in the house of a loved one, during the wait the corpse is cared for as if it’s still alive given baths, groomed, dressed regularly and even offered meals! Once the family is all present and the money raised for burial the funeral starts that can as well last for days as depending on the wealth of the family consists of feasts, mourning the dead and animal sacrifices that they believe the dead animals will help the soul of their loved one cross over to the other side faster. The bodies are placed in a wooden coffin and then placed in a burial chamber carved into the side of a large rock as they think this is the between Heaven and Earth and will help the spirit find its way…but wait this is not the last you will see of your loved one! Once a year in August loved ones will pull out their dead loved ones and wash, groom and dress them, then make repairs to the coffin and then “walk” them to their place of death and than back to their coffin. And this repeats forever no matter how long your loved one died you show them this respect. And some smaller tribes of people claim that the dead are walking themselves, while others claim its all a trick done by the funeral people. Does the dead truly walk or is this all some sort of tradition that we all just don’t understand, one things for sure and that these peoples loved ones are never forgotten. Below is some photos of the “walk” of the dead.

Toraja Dead 1Toraja Dead 2Toraja Dead 3

I love independent horror films and that’s why I have made my own No Budget Epics and have produced Horror Films for such directors as Andy Copp, Henrique Couto and Chris Seaver over the years and that’s why I have chosen this zombie film that should and could be made into a comic series called Zombie Chronicles that was released in 2001 and put out by Sterling Films and Brain Damage Films on VHS and DVD. The film is about a reporter who picks up an old man named Ebenezer Jackson who is heading to the same small town as her, along the way they make a stop and he shares some real life zombie stories with her! In the end she finds out he himself is a ghost and she might be the real target of the living dead. The film is as backyard as they come and looks as if it was shot on Super VHS or something along those lines and the effects are pure backyard stuff with some being really good including one woman who’s face has been ripped off and she gives her last dying breath. Most of the zombies are in cheap looking masks or terrible Halloween makeup bought on discount from K-Mart. But this could be a great series of comics and follow Ebenezer as he wonders around America finding people on lonely stretches of Highway and tell them chilling stories of the undead, with no budgets holding it back this could be as brutal as any zombie comic in history. Each issue would have a motorist, traveler or drifter coming in contact with Ebenezer who would tell them two to three zombie stories while they traveled the road or even stopped for the night at a rundown motel or camp site aside the road. After each issue the person hearing the stories would be marked in some way from not just physical but mentally as well. This would have to be done as a independent comic in order to truly up the gore and pack in some nudity as well, I would say a company like Rough House Publishing or even Studio Akumakaze would be great companies to make this comic come to bloody life and out of my artist friends that would make this amazing would be Rachael Lare, Damien Brunk or Jeff Potter all who would capture the horror nature of the series. This comic series would never happen sadly as no one remembers it nor when it was released did it come out to major fan fare as it went direct to video and faded away into horror film obscurity. Oh yeah the film was directed by Brad Sykes who made such other low budget films like Camp Blood 1 & 2, Demon’s Kiss, Death Factory and Mad Jack to name a few, the film also stars Janet Tracy Keijser who is easy on the eyes even if she is a little off acting in this film. Z-Grade flick check it out of you like your horror with a little cheese.

The Zombie Chronicles 1The Zombie Chronicles VHSThe Zombie Chronicles 2

When WWE bought out ECW and tried to re-launch the brand on the Sci-Fi network in 2006, it was a shell of what it was.  Gone were the days of New Jack using a cheese grader on Hack Meyers as blood poured out.  Gone were the days of Raven fighting Tommy Dreamer in a barbwire match all for the attention of Beulah, and what we got instead was a watered down version with Big Show being a top star as well as supernatural wrestlers like The Boogeyman, vampire Kevin Thorn and yep, The Zombie! Tim Roberts was the man with the cheesy gimmick who made his debut on the first episode of ECW on the SCI-FI Channel and was quickly beat down by The Sandman and his Singapore cane, you see the network wanted “monsters” added to the roster and this was the WWE’s way of saying we will add them and they will be used as jokes and get beat down fast and easy. The Zombie would float around for a short time loosing matches until he quietly disappeared from the company. Roberts was better known under the ring name Tim Arson and was a pretty big attraction in multiple Puerto Rico wrestling federations and won many belts over his career there, he also toured independent federations and even took on Matt Striker under the Arson gimmick that aired on WWE Heat. After becoming The Zombie for ECW he would also take bookings under that gimmick for small wrestling promotions. Sadly on January 7 2015 Roberts died of unknown causes at the age of 38. While he might not have been a household name here in America his fourteen year long wrestling career sported him fans all over the world.

ECW Zombie 1ECW Zombie 2ECW Zombie 3

People love zombies so much that Adult XXX films have been made about them! Yeah films that have male and female zombies getting busy with humans and each other have seen the light of day. These kind of Adult Films just shows you how much the American Culture loves Zombies that they want to see them not only eat humans but also do it with them! Many of these films also have a Horror Film nature to them and add gore and twisted storylines to these films, while others have no plots and are just scenes of goofball actors in masks and cheap Halloween makeup doing the deed with females who are there to collect a paycheck. There are parodies of George Romero dead films as well as The Walking Dead and everything in between, so if this is your thing and you find Zombies sexy I am sure one of these odd adult films will be sure to please.

Dawna Of The Dead PosterWalking Dead XXX Female ZombiePorn Of The Dead Poster

Here in Dayton, Ohio we have lots of Food Trucks and one of the most popular is a gourmet hotdog truck called Zombie Dogz that people line up for rain or shine to get a tasty large sized hotdog! Each hotdog has a horror themed name like “Hunk A Hunk A Rotting Flesh,” a tribute to Elvis Presley that is a hotdog with bacon, pan seared bananas flambéed in banana liquor topped with homemade cashew butter.  Or you could try “Gem City Slasher” that has the hotdog with avocado salsa, white truffle oil, red onions, bacon bits and cilantro sour cream! My favorite one is called “Calling In Dead” that has truffle oil mac n’ cheese and cracker crumbles all placed on top of the hotdog! Besides the Dayton area, you can also find Zombie Dogz as a food vendor at Horror Hound Weekend Convention in Cincinnati, and for comic book readers they are also spotted many Fridays at Bell, Book and Comic. If you’re ever in the area and enjoy a good specialty hotdog, check them out as I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Zombie Dogz logo

Arrow Comics was created by Ralph Griffith and Stuart Kerr in 1985 and was a black and white independent comic company that the pair started by publishing a magazine called “Fantastic Fanzine.”  After seeing how much of a hit the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was, they decided to open a comic book branch and gathered local talent like Guy Davis, Susan Van Camp, Randy Zimmerman and Vincent Locke to name a few and Arrow Comics was born! Issues of titles like Deadworld, The Realm, Tales From the Aniverse, System 7, Oz and Nightstreets hit comic shops, but by 1989, they were in trouble due to revenues for some of their top selling titles being tied up, causing them to have to move some of their titles to Caliber Comics. After a few years of silence, they tried to make a comeback in 1993 and released a savage zombie comic called The Dead, but sadly the re-launch was very short lived. In 2008 they made another comeback and started to make webcomics called Spank The Monkey and Rebel Nun and plan on giving many of their titles comebacks in this modern world of comic books. Being a long time comic reader as well as a Monster Kid, I can remember seeing these issues at local comic shops and even had a few of their OZ titles, but never did have any of the zombie ones as I think most of those were behind the counter kind of titles and I was too young to buy them. But while Arrow Comics was never as impactful as many of the other small companies of the time like Malibu, Now or Innovation, they still made huge impacts on their readers who enjoyed something different than Superman or Captain America. I must also state, I love their motto “Our Target Is Entertainment; Our Aim Is Quality”.

Arrow Comics logo

In 2015 Rough House Publishing, a comic company run by Derek Rook, who was the man behind Xmachina Comics, the company who brought you the “Gates Of Hell”, “Halloween: The Return To Haddonfield” and “Phantasm” comics as well as worked on the adaptation of Fulci’s “Zombie” graphic novel, released an amazing graphic novel called “The Dead: Omnibus” that collected all issues of the Arrow Comic series and more! It’s a must-have comic for fans of horror comics and for those looking for something more brutal than Walking Dead.  It’s my honor to present to you this 5 Questions with Derek Rook, the man behind Rough House Publishing and the rebirth of The Dead.

rough house publishing logoDerek RookThe Dead Omnibus

Matt: Welcome to Rotten Ink, Derek, and thanks for taking time away from your busy schedule to chat with me. Growing up were you a comic reader, and if so, what comic characters did you like?

Derek: Thank YOU, Matt! I appreciate the opportunity to hang with you. I WAS a giant comic book reader as a child. When I was young, I’d go grocery shopping with my mother and I would always hope that she had a couple bucks to spare so I could grab some comics off the news stand. I wasn’t aware of comic book shops at that time, so I’d get mine at grocery and convenience stores and sometimes at a Mom & Pop book corner store. I always loved The Incredible Hulk (especially the adult-oriented Marvel Magazine The Hulk), Rom – The Space Knight, Moon Knight, Conan, Godzilla…I always enjoyed characters that were misunderstood loners as I too was one of those as a child.

Matt: What was the first comic book you ever made of your own, and what was it about?

Derek: The first comic book I ever formally published was called NIGHTFALL. I published it in high school and with the help of my art teacher, Joseph Degnain, The book was standard slasher fare, but was heavily critical of religion, government and of many world views that we are dealing with today. We printed off 50 copies using all of the schools resources and equipment. In some ways, he believed in my dreams more than I did as he was responsible for the entire output process. All he wanted in return was one singular copy. I sold them to students for $1 and sold out in four days.

Matt: You have done some great comics based on such films as Gates of Hell, Zombie, Halloween and the upcoming Nightmare City remake – what has been your favorite one to work on?

Derek: It’s popular to answer that question by saying, “it’s like picking the favorite of your children”…and that’s true, But that’s not hard for me. If my books are “children”, then some of them were some real fucking bastards (laughs). Thus far my personal favorite as far as just my art would have to be THE GATES OF HELL. That book was a decades long journey through one of the most formative and tumultuous years of my life. I think the determination to complete that project shows in the finished product. It’s a great body of work. My favorite publication as a whole would hands down be THE DEAD – OMNIBUS. We all were just an unstoppable freight train during that project. There’s so much love and pride there, it’s staggering.

Matt: What three horror films would you like to turn into a comic book series or adaptations for Rough House Publishing, and why?

Derek: As we go forward with ROUGH HOUSE, I think you’ll be seeing us move away slightly from licensed projects, in lieu of more creator-owned stuff. Licensing is sometimes hard to get with the type of stuff we are interested in making books out of…BUT, if I could magically do three more, I personally would want to do THE BRONX WARRIORS (as a trilogy), the un-filmed original script for George Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD and probably CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. If you ask some of the other Rough House crew, you’d probably have an even bigger list.

Matt: With The Dead: Omnibus being one of your first releases from Rough House Publishing, I would guess you grew up a zombie comic fan. What is some of your favorite zombie or even horror comics going now?

Derek: Sadly, I’m not a fan of most modern comics in general anymore. Most of them lack the spirit and savvy and genius of some of the comics I grew up with. Maybe I’m just bias. The entire institution has become very corporate and are usually a means of advertisement for a much bigger and more profitable franchise. I think Image is publishing some interesting stuff like AIRBOY and BIG MANS PLANS. The original Garth Ennis’ CROSSED by Avatar Press was ground-breaking at the time, I loved SATELLITE SAM by Howard Chaykin and Matt Fraction…as you can see, most are not horror. HAUNTED HORROR is the closest ting publishing to my favorite comic book being published today, but those are are all reprinted stories from over 60 years ago…so I guess you can see where my roots are truly planted.

Matts: Thanks, my friend, for taking your time to chat with me!

Derek Rook At Work

As always Derek is a class act and a true artist in the world of horror comics and one of my favorite artists going today alongside Javier Trujillo as both capture the true nature of horror. So for about a year now I have been itching to check out The Dead as Rough House Publishing put it on my radar with their release of The Dead: Omnibus.  This started my quest to find the single issues that were released just so I could finally read them and cover them for this Undead File update! Thanks to Ebay and Lone Star Comics, I was able to track them down and enjoy them for the first time in all their gore-tastic glory! But before we walk among The Dead, I should remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that out of the way, let’s see what all this brain eating and gut munching horror is all about!

The Dead 1

The Dead # 1  ***
Released in 1993    Cover Price $2.25    Arrow Comics    # 1 of 2

Davey is a young man who is going to be a military man someday soon and is on a camping trip with his family and friends.  They are having a good time, and it seems like a perfect trip complete with campfires, fishing and walks in the woods making it seem like nothing could go wrong. As the wives are alone, a knock on the door leads to death as a farmer zombie in overalls and a shotgun blows one of the mom’s heads off and then proceeds to eat the breasts off the other! The Zombie Farmer is not alone and as the other zombies start to eat the flesh of the woman, the husbands show up and they as well become lunch as once more the Zombie Farmer uses his shotgun to blow the head off of one of them! Davey is smart enough and gets all the kids into the RV and saves their lives as they head to the nearby town for help they soon find out it has been set on fire.

This is a perfect example of an underground horror comic as it’s packed with lots of gore, boobs and monsters and is done in glorious black and white. The story is about two families on a vacation in the woods that are attacked by zombies who seem to not only want to eat them but also get enjoyment from killing humans. The story follows Davey as he tries all he can to save his siblings and young friends from a brutal death, all the while having to come to grips with the fact that his parents are dead. Davey is a interesting character who’s young but yet acts mature as his goal in life is to be a military man just like his father.  Despite the shock of seeing his parents slaughtered, he is still smart enough to use his brain and get in the RV and get the heck out of dodge as he sees the zombies coming for them. The rest of the kids are your normal generic kids who sneak and smoke pot and act silly and tough when you know without Davey’s guidance they would all be zombie lunch. The Zombie Farmer is one twisted sick undead psycho who not only kills his victims but also psychologically tortures them by allowing them to beg for their lives only to kill them with a brutal glee. The things we know about Zombie Farmer: he can use a shotgun and is good with it, he loves female boobs and he cannot die with damage to his body. The rest of the zombies seem to listen to what the Farmer says and are into eating the victims and causing chaos and mayhem. The comic is filled with lots of blood, brains and head exploding, all things that horror comic fans love and crave. The issue’s story and plot was done by Ralph Griffith and Stuart Kerr with art done by Jason Moore that is a very fitting style for a independent horror comic from the 90’s. The cover for some reason reminds me of Raiden from Mortal Kombat and is eye catching but in no way warns the reader of just how brutal the comic is! So far I’m very much enjoying this comic and am looking forward to issue two as well as the second volume of The Dead so let’s get to issue # 2!

The Dead 2

The Dead # 2  **1/2
Released in 1993    Cover Price $2.25    Arrow Comics    # 2 of 2

Davey and the gang watch as the town is burning and come up with a plan to try and get food, medical supplies and weapons from a trading post deep in the woods run by an old man named Zeke.  As they start their journey, Zombie Farmer in a pick up truck packed with zombies tries to stop them using firebombs and bricks to slow the kids down, but Davey has a plan that has motor oil being flung onto the windshield of the truck causing the Zombies to crash off a tiny bridge and explode! But before they get to the post, a zombie is able to get into the RV and bite one of the girls on the neck before it can be bashed leaving its brains all over the floor. The group tend to the wounded girl as Davey and the guys go into the post that has been clearly attacked by the undead.  They scavenge for food and get 10 boxes worth before Zeke shows up, now a zombie, throwing knives that injure one of the boys’ legs before they escape and head back to the road and the unknown! It ends with a naked woman who’s a prisoner of zombies who must rat out a location of other humans, and for her help a zombie eats her private parts!

More twisted and gruesome moments are packed into this growing story of Davey and the kids trying to get help and get away from the living dead who are out for blood and guts and a murderous good time. This issue’s plot has Davey and the kids trying to get to a safe place to gather supplies all the while dodging zombies who want to stop them and kill them. Throw in a strange zombie at the end who is forcing a living female for information and you have this strange issue summed up. Davey becomes more in charge as it’s clear they are being targeted by the zombies.  He comes up with the idea to get the Zombie Farmer off his back as well as comes up with where to get the supplies they will need to survive. The rest of the kids are becoming more useful and understand now that they are all in danger and when one of their own is bitten on the neck by a zombie, they know that death could await them at any turn. The zombies are very mean spirited and use bricks, cocktail bombs and knives to attack and they will not stop until the kids can escape them or kill them. Zombie Farmer returns for a short time and is driving a pickup truck and is trying to run the RV off the road, and is only stopped when his truck drives off a bridge and explodes, is he dead or not I cannot say for sure. The issue is packed with more gore that includes a neck bite, knife to the leg and a woman’s private parts being eaten by a zombie showing that they were all about the blood. The cover I have to this issue is X-Rated and depicts the poor woman being eaten by the Zombie, and this I am sure was never on the shelf at Mavericks Cards and Comics or The Bookie Parlor. The story and plot was once more done by Ralph Griffith and Stuart Kerr with Moore doing the art again that is super fitting for a comic of this nature as he understands the style of making a good zombie attack come alive. The downside is that the story is not finished as only two issues were made for Volume 1 so I am hoping that Volume 2 finishes this story or at least tells us the readers what happened to Davey and his siblings and friends. This comic series seems like fans of The Walking Dead could enjoy it if they don’t mind crude gore mixed in with their Horror Drama. And yes, the green zombie heads added to the cover was because I had to censor it, sad to say.

the dead vol 1 art 1

So that was volume one of this series so up next lets take a look at the second time around they tried to deliver The Dead to Horror Comic Readers with this 1998 released zombie romp issues! Does this series follow what happened to Davey….I don’t know but I hope if not they at least make a small attempt to tell what his the teens fate was, but lets not waste no more time the living dead is starting to crowd around and I don’t know about you but I sure don’t want to be bitten.

The Dead 2.1

The Dead # 1  **
Released in 1998    Cover Price $2.95    Arrow Comics    # 1 of 3

Jerry, Marcus and Megan are paramedics who are responding to a terrible multiple car wreck in Chicago that has many injured as well as many dead. They rush to the hospital with two survivors but quickly find out that the hospital is a warzone as the dead are coming back to life and eating the living! Just then one of the wreck victims dies and comes back to life and attacks Marcus and this causes Jerry to wreck the ambulance, this leads to Megan being thrown from the wreck and attacked and killed by Marcus who is now a zombie who turns Megan into a zombie who bites Jerry who escapes but is now on the run from his two former partners as well as the two wreck victims who are also flesh eaters! Jerry runs to a nearby gas station and meets a young woman who thinks he’s crazy as he rambles on about zombies, but she soon finds out he is no crazy as the zombies come for them and they both must run for their lives. The second story takes place in Michigan and has an old man fishing and drinking beer watching as a young couple is attacked and zombies come from the lake, he rushes to get his guns and warn the couples friends but it might be to late as they think he’s crazy and open the door to the living dead.

Right off the top I must say this second series lacks the gore, nudity and characters of the first series and while good felt a little lack luster. Plus this far we get zero follow up on Davey and his crew and instead we are following new characters as they are dealing with the zombie outbreak. The plot is broke into two parts with one following Jerry a paramedic and the other following an old drunk man and his dog as they deal with zombies and the people around them. Jerry is kind of a moron who does not help Megan who is begging for help after her injuries that was caused by his crappy driving, once he let her day I found myself shaking my head and wondering when he would die and hoping it was gruesome. The Old Man who has yet to be named seems ok this far and was just wanting to drink some beer, hang with his old dog and fish, but when the zombies come he at least tries to save others. The zombies are your Italian Zombie movie style who go for neck bites and are slow and only driven by the hunger of flesh. Over all not feeling this first issue as much as I did the 1993 The Dead issue 1 as this one kind of sadly feels generic in some ways, again not terrible just average. The cover is bland and shows the old man with his gun, and the art inside is pretty cool and classic 90’s horror comic stuff and is done by Matt Mason. I am hoping that issue two packs a little more blood and gore punch as series one set the bar very high and this issue felt like a light Marvel Zombies issue.

The Dead 2.2

The Dead # 2  **1/2
Released in 1998    Cover Price $2.95    Arrow Comics    # 2 of 3

The Old Man who’s name is Rick fights off the zombies and pushes them out of the cabin, but not before one boy is bitten by one that snuck into the house via the back window! The Old Man’s plan is for them all to load into the van out front and drive into town to get help, but the zombies have other plans as they block the path to the van. Rick sends some of the kids including Jennifer out after they find the keys to a four-wheeler, the injured boy goes with her and they travel to the neighbors house who own a truck. While there the boy turns into a zombies and the neighbors are all ready zombies and Jennifer must blast her way through them to get the truck to pick up the others just in time as the zombies were about to over take them. Now back to Chicago where Jerry and the female gas worker are running the streets for their lives away from the zombies that are all around, the bite on Jerry’s arm is getting worse as the pain is becoming unbearable. Meanwhile the Zombies are attacking and killing anyone they come in contact with and a brutish biker saves Jerry and the Clerk from a zombie attack and warns them to leave town and to get away as far as they can! The clerk and Jerry steal a car as his pain is getting worse they soon find themselves in a zombie traffic jam.

This second issue brings back blood and gore and adds enough survival horror drama that you find yourself as the reader being drawn into the plot and wanting to see how any of the survivors will make it out alive. The plot for both stories has our heroes and fellow survivors trying to escape the grips of the living dead and coming up with plans to do so. Jerry this time around while as useless as ever at least saves the clerk from becoming zombie lunch, but does just yell at the zombies instead of fighting them like a man. The Female Gas Station Clerk is by far the bravery of the two and wants to not only find help for Jerry but also get out of town and save her own butt. The Old Man Rick is one bad mofo as he blasts his way through zombies as well as comes up with a plan that works and gets the survivors away from the lake and cabins that are being over run by the undead. Jennifer who is one of the young ladies at the cabin also seems like she could be a player in the survival game as she is very strong willed and understands that she needs to fight to stay alive. The Zombies are as always brutal and craving flesh and will not stop no matter how many gun shots you pump into them, unless you aim for the head. The gore and blood are back and while not as brutal as it was in series one, it still great to see in this series. The cover is better and has zombies eating a man and the art inside is good and done by Matt Mason again. Solid brutal issue with lots of zombie horror fun, looking forward to the third and final issue in this second series and see if it has an ending or if Arrow leaves us hanging again.

The Dead 2.3

The Dead # 3  **1/2
Released in 1998    Cover Price $2.95    Arrow Comics    # 3 of 3

The Store Clerk gets Jerry through the zombie roadblock, but Jerry has died and is becoming a zombie! Jerry is not just some ordinary zombie as he can talk and think and wants nothing more than to rape and eat the clerk! He tricks her into stopping at a drug store by saying he needs medication and bandages for his bite wound and then has her follow him into the back storage room as the zombies start to break in.  He attacks her and leads her into the zombies who all listen to him.  He tells them to eat her and claims he is the King of The Zombies! The second story follows a group of teens at a house babysitting, eating pizza and watching some flicks when a police officer who’s the brother of one of the girls shows up and warns them all to stay inside as murders are happing all over. In the end the parents of the young kids show up and are infected, and the teens lock themselves in the house and prepare for a horrific night of terror.

The story of Jerry has an ending as he becomes the first smart and talking zombie of this series, he is so slimy and only wants to feed his urges of human flesh both in a hungry way and a horny way! I 100% hate Jerry and so wanted the Female Store Clerk to survive and blow his brains out….sadly this did not happen as she became zombie dinner. I however must say I did like the journey of Jerry from being an every day guy doing his job to being bite by a zombie to being in pain and dying from said bite to finally becoming a zombie and learning he has powers the others don’t like speech and a mind that still works for plotting. The second story is pretty cool and reminds me of my friends and I getting together back in High School and having Horror Movie Marathons in my parent’s basement. But while the story on that one was just getting started from all I could gather the 4th issue never came out and left readers hanging once more. The story of Rick and the lake survivors as well did not get a closing as in this issue they are not shown at all. The issue showcases some blood and gore as well as nudity as the Female Gas Station Worker has her top ripped off by the sleazy zombie Jerry. This second series while good failed to capture the raw magic of the first series, and with that said I still enjoyed these three issues and they were well worth tracking down for this update. The cover on issue three is pretty cool and just showcases a zombie and reminds me of pure independent punk rock horror comics, the art inside is Matt again and is good stuff and very fitting for the nature of this series. One thing I should point out about this series that was really cool was that you could pay to put yourself in the comic! You could pay a fee from $250 to $25 and select to be a zombie, a victim or a Zombie Hunter and even pick just how gross your death would be! That’s a fantastic gimmick and one that should be in use today, oh wait “We Kill The Dead” the new upcoming Horror Series did do something like this for their Kickstarter…Good Work Guys, as I find this to be an outstanding idea. Over all The Dead’s third issue is much like the first two in this series good stuff and worth a read for zombie comic fans like myself. Below is some artwork form this second series.

the dead vol 2 art 1

The Dead is clearly one of the horror comics alongside the George Romero Dead films that inspired The Walking Dead as lots of elements seem to be borrowed from each in the comic as well as the show. If you enjoy your zombies dripping in blood, guts and gore and enjoy a little nudity thrown in for extra sleazy, I would say The Dead is for you, as I found myself loving every black and white page of the undead on a rampage for flesh and glory. Make sure to check out The Dead: Omnibus by Rough House Publishing as they collect all the issues as well as unprinted stories in one glorious book! And keep an eye out for more of their releases as they are the true horror comic fan’s outlet for amazing titles. For the next update I am going to try and have a showdown with an NES game that has foiled my attempts to beat it for years, but now I am ready to beat Werewolf: The Last Warrior as well as review the mini comic that came with the game on release! So until next time, avoid the dead, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host!

NES Werewolf Logo