i, Zombie…you, Alien American.
I liked the comic iZOMBIE. I like most of Mike Allred’s work, which is artistically distinctive, unique, and quirky. He has an odd, fun sensibility as an artist, and his choice of subject matter is unusual. I especially like making efforts to emulate his style, which is the bulk of the art for this post. There is a lot of art today, because I saw the first episode of the “i, Zombie” television show this weekend, and loved it. LOVED it.
It is, however, pretty distinct from the comic that I thoroughly enjoyed. The series deals with Gwen Dylan, a zombie employed as a gravedigger in Eugene, Oregon and her friends: Ellie, a 1960s ghost, and Scott, a were-terrier.
Gwen can pass for a regular girl, but she needs to eat a brain once a month to keep from losing her memories and intelligence. As a gravedigger she has plenty of access to recently deceased people; when she consumes their brains she “inherits” part of the deceased’s thoughts.
Pretty unusual idea, and as a result, iZOMBIE was nominated for the 2011 Eisner Award for Best New Series. Critically acclaimed, good stuff.
While the series retains the lead character’s ability to absorb memories and abilities through eating brains, her backstory is substantially changed. Liv (changed from Gwen…grrr…) is an intern physician who is turned into a zombie after being scratched by one. The series picks up five months after the incident, with Liv now working as a morgue assistant,in order to keep a steady supply of brains that she must eat in order to retain her intelligence, with the side effect of her receiving flashes of memories from the dead which she uses to assist in solving crimes. It’s a clever conceit that makes her sort of a quirky, “emo”, zombie Nancy Drew. Her family and friends are unaware of her zombie status, only her boss at the morgue is in on the secret. As a result of her situation, there is an amusing level of comedy along the way. The actress playing Liv, Rose McIver, really goes above and beyond in selling her as a likable character in an unbelievable situation.
In addition, Michael Allred, lead artist for the comic book series, designed and drew the opening credits for the series. That’s just nice to see, and excellent high profile work for a guy that I respect massively. I love seeing his work on TV, both in illustration, and portrayed by actors.
The show has been getting good reviews as well, which is great. A whole lot of the time, I like a show, but the rest of America says…”meh.” Ratings were okay, and the buzz around it is pretty excellent. One can only hope that means an iZOMBIE T-shirt is not far behind!
I felt like I needed to do one more piece of art for this post, to show my overwhelming support of the series. Thusly, a great comic that never happened…DC Comics Presents, featuring the protagonist and Gwen versus some sort of massive Communist Frankenstein of some kind, with a huge coffee pot full of brains. Gwen/Liv needs brains to survive, and our hero drinks a whole lot of coffee…so the giant Communist having a deadly brewpot seems sensible.
Gwen in the comic, and Liv on the show have decent superpowers. Besides gaining memories and talents from eating brains, they both have enhanced strength, speed, and durability…but heal badly, what with being dead. As a side effect, being already dead, neither character can be killed. That would be redundant for Gwen and Liv.
There’s a moment in episode one where Liv “goes full zombie mode.” It’s a bit awkward. It does provide an Incredible Hulk style need for the character to remain in control of herself…but given all of the legitimate character issues that she has on the show, organically, from being a zombie, it seem a bit forced. That’s a minor, minor criticism in a sea of praise.
Go watch it, True Believers! I’m fairly certain it will make you smile.
Next Issue: Spring Break 2015 Begins!