The AV Club recently interviewed Max Brooks, author of The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z, and Recorded Attacks (a zombie comic based on stories from The Zombie Survival Guide) . It’s a great interview, which you should check out, but I thought one of the questions was particularly relevent:
AVC: Between the time The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z came out and today, there’s been a huge deluge of zombie-related books, comics, movies, videogames, etc. How do you feel about that? Has it affected you either as a creator or as a consumer of zombie fiction?
MB: You know, that’s a really good question. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a lot of good-quality stuff coming out right now. There might be, no question, but I think for every one really genuine zombie story coming out, there’s a tsunami of hackwork by people who were never into zombies, aren’t interested in them, never cared about them, but they smell money and they’re just trying to cash in. It doesn’t affect me. My books are selling as well as they’ve ever sold; it can only help me. But it does really bother me as a consumer.
A few years ago, a decade ago, if you were looking for a zombie book or a zombie movie, there were so few out there that you knew that if you found one, somebody really, really wanted to make it. There was just a ton of passion behind every zombie project coming out. And I think it’s been so diluted by this point that quality is hard to find; there are so many cash-in products out there that, as a reader, how do you know what’s good? You can’t read them all. But what’s more upsetting to me is the possibility of burnout. And again, this doesn’t affect me as a writer. I’ve sold more books than I ever deserve to sell. But as a reader, I think there’s somebody out there who’s thinking up the next great zombie story. There’s somebody right now writing something that will just blow World War Z out of the water, something so passionate and so perfect and so right. And what worries me is that by the time they finish it, the country will have moved on, publishers will have moved on, and they’ll be told, “We’re done with zombies. We’ve been done with zombies for a while now.” I worry that this glut will crush the next great zombie masterpiece that someone like me would love to read.
This is something I think about a lot, but Brooks really sums it up here. Zombies are a big trend/fad right now, which means there’s a lot of zombie related cash-in crap out there. As a lover of the genre and a consumer of the media, the deluge of second and third-rate garbage is more than a little exhausting.
There are, however, a lot of diamond in the rough, and they’re well worth the search.