Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks (2009)

     Sure, I gave The Zombie Survival Guide (2003) as a Christmas present to a coworker many years ago – I want to say it was 2004 – but I never read it.  I glanced through it, but it didn't seem to hold much appeal for me.  For a book that was filed under humor, it seemed leaden.  Moreover, it felt lazy.  Now, I will own the fact that it irresponsible for me to come to those conclusions without actually reading at least one entire section of the book.  The person to whom I gave the book was happy with it, and author Max Brooks has gone on to have much success churning out more titles relating to the zombie apocalypse.  As I had an entire day free, I decided to give Brooks another shot – though this time in graphic novel form, as I was sure it would not take much time to get through it.
     That was an understatement.  The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks (2009) features some compelling black and white artwork by Ibraim Roberson.  It is not expressive of action, but is detailed and moody.  Still, it cannot make up for the lack of anything resembling story in any of the vignettes Brooks half informs.  There isn't much in the way of connective material to link the stories, nor does Brooks do anything to make one believe he should be praised for his research in squaring his fantasies of sporadic outbreaks of the undead and actual history.
     The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks feels more like an attempt to storyboard a mishmash of a film, where zombies could be incorporated into multiple eras.  Nothing in it is compelling on its own, and when taken together it just comes off as an attempt for Brooks to wring more money out of a genre that he doesn't seem to have added anything to.  Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe in the full text of The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z (2006), Brooks does make many and varied contributions to the genre beyond giving a name to the virus that creates his zombies.  But in my limited experience, Brooks offers nothing new and does so in an unimaginative manner.
     I cannot imagine that anyone would be satisfied with this product at its list price of $17.00 (though I doubt few buy their books at list price these days).  It is too short, too disjointed, and not distinctive enough to merit being necessary in any collection.  As a tie-in, it may satisfy a need for some fans to see Brooks' imagining of a world perpetually at risk of a zombie uprising play out over a 62,000 year span.  By itself, it only serves as a reminder of how many attempts to tell a zombie story with nothing behind it have plagued the foreign and direct-to-video film markets over the past decade.  I also think that Brooks did Roberson a disfavor by not listing the artist's name on the cover.
     Whether or not this completely turns me off to ever giving World War Z a chance – I think that most authors who are not graphic artists do not translate well into this medium – I know that I will continue to be leery of Brooks.  Having seen him on Deadliest Warrior (2009-present) and the Starz produced Zombie Mania (2008), I am filled with a sense that he is a man who is enamored with the idea of zombies but cannot find any voice to make the concept his own or structure the zombie apocalypse as to give it any kind of allegorical meaning.

No comments:

Post a Comment