Episode 440: A Light!

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: A Spark of Hope in the Distance

One of the big messages in the 90’s goth-action classic The Crow was that, “It can’t rain all the time.” Things might be bad; they might be awful, but there’s always little bits of light and levity if you know where to look. There’s always hope somewhere, maybe right around the corner. Depending on the writer, this can be used in one of two ways. First, it can go the obvious route and be used as a way to give characters the hope they need to triumph through the outrageous adversity besetting them. The other way is to use it as a big tease. Give the character a reason to be happy and hopeful in the midst of awful circumstances, and then pull the rug out from under them.

Getting more specific to zombie stories, hope is an important thing. It’s an essential part of the positive attitude that experts cite as the number one factor in surviving dangerous situations. Giving characters hope – actual or false – plays on this concept.

About this Episode:

Sam sees a light ahead, but I wanted to make it a faint thing in the distance. He gets just close to see salvation, but not close enough to ensure that it’s the real thing. Why would he do that? Priorities, my friend. He’s focusing all his attention on his wife, and making assumptions about everything.

Discussion Question: Most Irritating Things in Zombie Stories?

Here’s a classic question: what’s the thing that characters do in zombie stories that bugs you the most? It can be specific (getting blood pressure checked in the middle of a fight between zombies and other survivors), or more general (not checking the whole house before settling in and getting comfortable).

21 thoughts on “Episode 440: A Light!”

  1. When the story completely focuses on the hack n’ slash. I hate that the most, it’s almost as if I’m reading/watching some thing an uncreative twelve year old wrote.

    • Oh man, that’s a good one. Those always remind me of video games. Endless action, but it doesn’t translate well into a story.

  2. Nobody seems to think of wearing any sort of armor, despite the fact that most of the time a few good layers of tough fabric would be all you would need to at least avoid being infected if not necessarily preventing bruising or other injury from a bite.

    • Excellent point Bob, and one Bricks of the Dead is guilty of.

  3. There aren’t any typos in the sections for this episode, but I would like to call to Dave’s attention the overuse of bracketed parts of sentences in the last paragraph of the Discussion Question. Bracketing something that really is or should be part of the actual sentence seems like laziness to me, or getting rushed off your feet. I sincerely hope Dave has the time these days to compose things properly! 😀

    • A fair criticism; I do get in the habit of over-complicating my sentences and overusing parentheticals.

      • I got my habit of correcting some grammar errors from the Reader’s Digest book “How to write and speak better” – very useful book even if some of the content in it is a little outdated for internet use. 😀

        Maybe, just maybe, if you have the time one day, you’ll search around for a similar book on the English language and grammatical structure! It can really help to improve your webpage content, even though the version I had until a recent move doesn’t have any internet-specific section in it! 😉

        • I actually might have that book somewhere. I was an English/Writing major in college and inherited a lot of books like that from people who thought it was be helpful. I can’t recall that one specifically, but there are a lot of great guidebooks like that out there.

  4. As for what happens next episode, one word, or emote, really:



    • Hah. Maybe so, maybe so.

  5. We haven’t heard from Sarah in a while, should we be worried?

    This scene reminds me a bit of one in the movie “The Perfect Storm” which I think is a good example of what you describe today. At one point it appears that the sinking is inevitable yet just before the boat gets crushed by a wave the crew sees a ray of sunlight through a gap in the clouds… their faces light up for a split second and then the moment passes.

    • Oh god, that’s a fantastic example. Exactly what I’m talking about.

  6. One of my main peeves in zombie stories is when characters who have been super vigilant and careful about watching for and avoiding zeds suddenly forget that they’re in the midst of the zombie apocalypse and let themselves get taken by surprise in the stupidest ways possible (that are convenient for the plot, of course).

    • Good call, Darg. That one shows up in practically every zombie story every (including BotD, remember Shannon?).

  7. My biggest zombie movie pet peeve would have to be the characters forgetting that they aren’t safe. It seems to be that whenever they are able to stop for a little while, they think they are home safe instead of staying on their toes.

    • That’s a good one. I can understand that at the beginning of the outbreak, when people don’t really understand how widespread things are, but once things are established they should know better.

  8. I was waiting for you to ask that very question. My biggest pet peeve is the love story in a zombie movie/novel. There are good times when this is effective (simon peg/nick frost Shaun Of The Dead uses the live story to add drama and laughs to the movie.) but normally it just adds crap and unnecessary lines to the story. Such as: “Oh my gawd, Jim! There are zombies everywhere…. I love you…” And crap like that. Also, school is getting in the way right now. I may be a little unresponsive, to top things off the Canadian government is investigating where I got my Thompson machine gun (it’s on the wall and I have no ammo for it) so yeah….

    • Tacked on love stories are irritating in all genres, as far as I’m concerned. If it’s an organic part of the story, super. Otherwise, it’s just there to try to appeal to another customer demographic. Uhg.

      Speaking of which, this Sam and Sarah thing is my attempt at a love story, do you think it fits? I might use this for a discussion question, actually.

      That sucks about school. Is the Tommy deactivated or made semi-auto?

  9. I hate how that minor character that I’m actually interested in and hoping makes it dies within the first 20 minutes :/

  10. My biggest peeve in zombie movies is where someone gets stuck with something, be it a knife or a chunk of rebar and another character pulls the object straight back out and then puts a bandage over it. Nine times out of ten you pull something like that out of a wound and a person will bleed out. The offending piece of whatever actually is better left in as it keeps the wound sealed. Also they dont seem to care about any sort of infection. Covered in zombie goo and then get a wound. Urghh. Love this webcomic keep up the good work.

  11. The tommy as far as I know is still automatic. I got it in a storage locker that I got.