Episode 449: Trust

Zombie Cliche Lookout: Shaping Men

To a certain kind of person, people are tools to be used. Just like a hammer or a rotary saw, people are there to be exploited to meet whatever goals that need to be met. These people see themselves as the shapers of men; blessed with the ability to craft a person into whatever tool they need, or to simply improve the capabilities of that tool. These sort of puppet masters tend to show up a lot in zombie stories, generally as the primary antagonists because, after all, the zombies aren’t the real monsters.

About this Episode:

I try to convey a lot with hand gestures in Bricks of the Dead. After all, LEGO® minifigs only have so many points of articulation, so you can only do so much to non-verbally communicate ideas. I like using the hands because they rotate completely in a way that can often correspond with how people actually talk.

Other News:

Don’t forget, I’ll be going on a brief hiatus at the end of the month, and I’d love to feature your guest strips, fan art, and anything else that works in this format. If you’re interested, be sure to let me know in the comments. And if you have something to promote (a blog, another comic, your YouTube channel, etc.), I’d be happy to link out to it in the write-up.

Discussion Question: Smart Zombies

I’m sure I’ve expressed this a few times before, but I’m not a fan of smart zombies. Smart is, of course, a relative term. Of course you could have zombies that hold advance degrees, or you might just have zombies who can figure out how to open doors. So when I say smart here, take it to whatever extent that you like. In my mind, zombies should be able to negotiate very simple obstacles, but only through dumb luck. Anything more complex than that, and the zombies are out of luck.

So the obvious question is, what do you guys think? What level of intellectual ability do you like to see in your zombies? How smart is too smart? How dumb is too dumb?



Typo alert 1, Discusion Question: I like using the hands because they rotate completely in a way that can often correspond with out people actually talk.

I suggest replacing the bolded word ‘out’ with ‘how’ in the above sentence. Don’t know how Dave transformed how into out, though! 😀

Typo alert 2, Discussion Question: In my mind, zombies should be able to negotiate very simply obstacles

Replace the bolded word ‘simply’ with ‘simple’! 😉


Fixed both. I have no idea how I managed to switch out and how. I must have been tired.


When it comes to “smart” zombies, I’d think a smart zombie should be at least able to figure out that it can’t get to prey it wants to attack and be able to give up and switch to and monitor for available targets. More than that level of perception or intellect would have to mean it was turned into into some kind of sci-fi zombie that’s been infected with anything from nanochips to behavior altering viruses. 😀


Interesting thoughts here. I think that zombies giving up and seeking other prey fundamentally alters how I like them to work. What’s cool about zombies, though, is that people can change the rules to suit their own story.


The thing is, zombies, even the ones in your webcomic, can already switch to targets when they come into range, so that’s a given. Giving up on something or someone you can’t get to is a very basic form of hunting, so I would expect a “smart” zombie to be able to give up and switch to other nearby targets. I don’t necessarily mean to imply, though, that your own zombies would do that. 😀


I agree that they can and should switch to another, easier target if one is available. Where I have a problem is when people lock themselves inside with the zombie(s) outside. I want the zeds to stay outside and not let them out, not just give up and wander off.


Well how long are the zombies going to stay around anyway? What with random movements and all that, I would think it would be perfectly justifiable to say that after a certain time the number of zombies trying to get to prey on the other side of a barrier they can’t get through would have to decrease one way or another. It probably shouldn’t be at the movie director’s whim, though, that’s for sure! 😉


Yeah, it gets difficult to say. I mean, if they see other prey, then they could certainly abandon the people they trapped inside. But absent some other stimuli like that, I’d say they just keep hanging out, trying to get in.


I prefer my zombies dumb, but this question reminds me of a Japanese movie (Versus I think) where they had zombies not only capable of talking, but capable of flying around and martial arts.


I’ve heard of that one. Not my cup of tea, but I like the weirdness of it.


I might be able to pull a short comic strip off for you. I built the set and got the camera for a stop motion series but it never came to anything. But first: what software, font and effects do you use for the comic? If I could get the software or replicate it’s effects that would be great.


I use Photoshop for everything, but Gimp is a free alternative.

You don’t need to use the same fonts as me, but for reference I use “Damn Noisy Kids” for sound effects, and “Blambot Custom” for dialog.


I use a set of brushes in Photoshop for those. There are lots of them out on the net for free. Just search for splatter brushes. I believe they should be compatible with Gimp as well.


Hah, that’s something I couldn’t really help you with. I’ve never used it myself. I know there are loads of tutorials out there though. I’d check YouTube.


One thing about Gimp: I’m pretty sure they didn’t want you to control it.


Hah, maybe so.

I do know they there are skins for it, so you can make it look more like Photoshop, which might help you pick it up a little easier.


I’m switching over to Paint.NET, which has less disapparating cursors and more functional Copy-Paste systems.


I’ve never used that one either, but I’ve seen a few people recommend it.


Okay, Episode 1 is done! I have no way to send it here, the turnout was bad to moderate, and it was hard work. But it’s done!


I think I am going to start again. I did not write a script so there are some problems with it from the beginning.


Sam does not look too convinced by Abe’ speech…
For some reason it reminds of of Kaa in the Jungle Book.. .trusssssst in me!


Amount of brain =[(freshness of death/time to full rot or 1/2 life) – (damage inflected/reflexes left)]/objective difficulty.

I think in D&D terms the equation above would be called “Difficulty Challenge” or DC.

Nom Zoms

Ha ha, don’t worry, Dave, we got formulas and equations for about everything!


Dumb, like goldfish or cockroach dumb. Very basic motor skills and predatory instincts. That being said there is a lot that can be attributed to dumb luck and persistence. Simply closing a door without locking it might keep them out for a while, but eventually some zed if gonna grab ahold of that doorknob and twist it purely by accident. Will he remember that trick the next time he runs into a closed door? Probably not, because in my world the zeds have lost all higher brain function as a result of being dead,

Silver Fox

On the assumption it’s a disease of either bacterial or viral infection, I think of the zombies acting dumb, on a very base level of instincts to eat and breed. The breeding where a bacterial or viral agent is concerned being that they pass themselves on via bite.


Zombies should be dumb, but as seen in the INCREDIBLE zombie webcomic:
d e a d – w i n t e r, there are extraordinarily rare fast and smart zombies, even smart enough to open a backpack. I like this concept, even though it is unrealistic. The most realistic zombie comic I have read would be Zombie Waffen. it takes the “LARS” disease witch is an acute form of rabies that transfers to humans, and @#$! happens. A smart zombie adds a little bit of spice to the mix.

To sum this all up, 99% Dumb zombies + 1% smart = Awesome.


I’m a little late here, but I agree with Dave that “smart” zombies are antithesis to what zombies are supposed to be.
What makes zombies so scary for most people is the fact that they’re, essentially, a force of nature that will overwhelm and consume you (literally if they devour your flesh before you turn and figuratively if you become one of them) and can’t be reasoned with.
My problem with so-called “smart” zombies, is that “primal unreasoning force” is removed because if they’re smart enough to reason, then they can (potentially) be negotiated with, and that eliminates a lot of the threat. Natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes are scary because they can’t be stopped, can’t be talked to and can strike without warning, and zombies definitely fit that description.

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