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Fanboy of Fear Chris Gage Review by
Chris Gage
Trade Paperback
by Various
Frightworld Studios

For creatures with no brains, zombies are sure experiencing a renaissance. Movies like 28 DAYS LATER and the upcoming George Romero sequel are bringing the walking dead back with a vengeance! But Frightworld Studios was way ahead of the curve. Publisher John Pearson has been compiling material for the past couple of years, and has just released FLESHROT, an anthology of zombie stories and art, boasting a foreword from the granddaddy of the zombie film, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD director Romero himself!

The impressive cover painting by Socar Myles depicts the book's hostess, Misty Graves, a goth babe who favors Catholic schoolgirl clothes and short-short skirts. She stars in a brief comic tale of her own in which she's babysitting for a family of zombies (which apparently calls for her to bend over a lot) when an axe murderer comes to call. Needless to say, he picked the wrong house to continue his killing spree. Ms. Misty is also prominently featured in the many pin-ups within these pages. Hot chicks have become obligatory for horror comics these days, but when they're this sexy it's not really something I'm complaining about!

The introduction from George Romero shows he actually read and liked the book, unlike some intros where you get the feeling the writer never laid eyes on what he's introducing and is really just doing a favor for somebody. The stories themselves are fun, gore-filled romps heavy on black humor, like "How To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse", an instructional-video parody explaining how best to deal with infestations of undead. In fact, die-hard terror fans looking for straight horror might be disappointed that there aren't more stories like "The Family Plot", an EC-style morality play about vengeance from beyond the grave. There are a few serious tales, but tongue-in-cheek fun seems to be the prevailing mood of most of FLESHROT's stories.

But there's plenty of horror in the art, and after all, dark comedy is a proud tradition in the zombie genre, going back to the shopping mall antics in DAWN OF THE DEAD. Personally, I didn't mind the heavy dose of humor; my favorite part of the book, hands down, was the dead-on parodying of old-time comic book advertisements, for things like Zombie Sea Monkeys and Flesh Rot Soap (I couldn't help wondering what one could do with a zombie spin on the old Hostess Twinkie one-pagers).

As for the art, a wide spectrum of talents and countries - from Duluth, Georgia to Tortona, Italy - are represented. Most contributors acquit themselves admirably, filling their page with gory detail. Top marks go to Socar Myles, not just for his cover, but for the most chilling piece in the book, "The Restless Season", an exquisitely rendered fairy tale about a mouse and a bird that reads like Aesop meets Clive Barker. I tell ya, that boy's got talent! You may not have heard the name, but after seeing his work, I guarantee you won't forget it.

For you artists out there, the best thing about this book will be publisher Pearson's open call for contributions - no guarantees of publication, but every submission will be seriously considered, which is better than you'll get most anywhere else. Who knows, your own rendition of maggot-infested eye sockets and protruding bone could grace a future volume of the series!

For more information about FLESHROT and Frightworld Studios, check out fleshrot.com. I'm giving this debut three Rabid Fanboys and looking forward to future installments.

Review copyright 2003 by E.C.McMullen Jr.

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