Today marks the launch of Double Take Comics’ Ultimate Night of the Living Dead. It’s a horror initiative unlike any other, in that this new publisher is launching ten new titles in a shared zombie universe, and the universe just so happens to be George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead universe.
Of those ten titles, zombie master Jeff McComsey is writing Z-Men, and Rise. He’s best known for his work on FUBAR. It’s a World War 2 anthology that he edits, all about zombies. We here at Bloody-Disgusting caught up with Jeff to talk about his new Double Take books, how these zombies are different, and what it’s like to play in a shared universe.
Bloody-Disgusting: What was your first exposure to zombies? What inspired you to tell the FUBAR stories? And what was it that attracted you to Double Take’s Ultimate Night of the Living Dead?
Jeff McComsey: My first exposure was actually the remake of NOTLD on VHS and the story always stuck with me. I love drawing period stories so crafting a zombie historical fiction series allowed me do tell zombie tales throughout all of world history. Working with Double Take on their Ultimate NOTLD line was a great chance to one, get in on the ground floor of something big and help craft a whole connected universe, something I haven’t yet had the chance to do.
BD: Double Take’s writing process is a little different than most publishers, what unique challenges did scripting RISE and Z-Men come with? And how did you adjust to the oral story scripting style?
JM: One of the early challenges was making sure I was sticking to the timeline set up by the film. While the story is pretty cut and dry they do drop quite a few time markers for how the events of the film unfold particularly towards the end of the film. I enjoyed the oral story format as it’s a natural dialogue style that I’m very comfortable with.
BD: What was it like to tell a story within a larger shared universe? What sorts of challenges did it impose on your stories?
JM: The biggest challenge was just making sure everyone was on the same page. The biggest mistake s I worried about were missing opportunities for each story to cross over, even if it’s through secondary characters or locations. The Double Take editorial staff does a great job of keeping track of all the story arcs and locations.
BD: Tell us a little bit more about Z-Men? After the events of the first issue do Clancy and Stuart have any idea what they’re heading into, and how will their mission change going forward?
JM: Z-Men follows two disgraced Secret Service agents as they are given a chance to redeem themselves by investigating the events of NOTLD for the Secret Service director and the President. They don’t know what they’re getting into as it seems the worst is past when they arrive in Pennsylvania while it’s really the calm before the storm.
BD: As someone who works with zombies, you must have a great affinity for George A Romero, so did you feel any pressure taking on the story of RISE?
JM: I don’t really feel any pressure but I am very relieved to work from such fantastic source material. The fact that we developed 10 stories around it is testament to that. Plenty of meat on those bones so to speak.
BD: Why do you think the story of Night of the Living Dead persists after all this time? And why do you think it warrants going in a new direction with Rise?
JM: The thing I admire the most about NOTLD is how much Romero did with so little, cultural significance aside He made a hell of movie in 1968 with very little money. The quality of it is apparent even after several rewatches. There were some unanswered questions from the original and it’s been fun coming up with directions that answer some of those questions for Double Take.
BD: What will longtime fans of NOLD find compelling about this new remix edition of the story they love? What excites you most about it?
JM: I think fleshing out Barbara’s character is one aspect. She has a lot of screen time in NOTLD but spends most of it catatonic. With this series we get to show what happens after she pulls it together and starts kicking ass.
BD: Tell me a little bit about what makes Double Take’s “zombies” unique, and what excites you the most about this new, shared zombie universe? What can fans look forward to?
JM: The Double Take zombies are certainly more than they appear. They are evolving quickly from their first appearance and will be become even more formidable than the shambling zombies from the original NOTLD. There’s a pretty huge event that happens in the fourth issue of the ongoings that will forever alter Evans County Pennsylvania and our “zombies”.
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