Episode 450: Control

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: Painful Past

Getting through the opening salvos of the zombie apocalypse isn’t easy. It’s going to take its toll on everyone. We’ll all lose friends, family, and loved ones. We’ll all have to make horrible decisions. We’ll compromise our values. We’ll feel guilty for both our actions and the accident of fate that has allowed us to get this far. Eventually we’ll get past the worst of it, when the vast majority of civilization has joined the ranks of the ravenous hordes of zombies, with pockets of survivors scattered throughout the land. Once the initial chaos calms down, survivors will finally have time to look back at the last few days and hours, perhaps with horror, and take an accounting of their choices and actions.

There are those who won’t be able to get through the grief and guilt, those who will, and those who will rise above it all and use it as a weapon against the others. That last set of people? Yeah, they’re generally going to be your bad guys.

About this Episode:

I generally like to have some random string of YouTube videos playing in the background when I work on the comic. Nothing too interesting so that it pulls my interest away from the comic, but something with entertaining background noise. This week I tried something a little different and just went for music, specifically Primus’ Brown Album. I think it was a pretty good choice.

And what does this have to do with the comic? Not a damn thing.

Other News:

Also, Bricks of the Dead is now four years old. Look out for a post about that early next week.

Discussion Question: A Delicate Question

When it comes to tales of survival, both fictional and non-fictional, there’s always a taboo lurking somewhere on the periphery of the story. Occasionally, it’s broached, but it’s usually just left hanging out there for the reader/watcher to brood on while digesting the plot. I’m speaking, of course, of cannibalism. If people get hungry enough, they’ll either resort to it or die.

But what about zombies? When zombies feast on the living, is that cannibalism, or are the zombies something fundamentally different from the living to the point that they’re no longer considered cannibals?

25 thoughts on “Episode 450: Control”

  1. How much does everyone want to bet that Abe is going to be a villain?

    • I’m not taking that bet.

  2. Typo alert 1, Zombie Cliche Lookout, seventh sentence: “… majority of civilization has join the ranks …” join–>joined 😀

    Typo alert 2, Discussion Question, second paragraph, last sentence: not–>no 😀

    • Fixed both.

  3. Regarding the discussion question itself, I think that zombies are different from cannibals in that they would most certainly eat cannibals. Cannibals do actually consider who they’re going to stew up before they eat them, but zombies will just see an edible target and go right for it without thinking about it. That right there is the major difference between a zombie and a cannibal. The cannibal will just be an edible target to the zombie, whereas the cannibal might have problems with wanting to eat a rotting corpse that’s after them! 😉

    There is also a question for Dave’s zombies: Do they consider what they want to eat before eating it or will they just eat first and try to spit the inedible parts out later? 😉

    • I tend to agree here, BrickVoid.

      I don’t think they consider it. If they can chew it off, they’re going to eat it.

  4. Well in a lot of movies and stuff I have seen zombies cannot feed on each other and when they try they are immediately disgusted, so I would assume that at some level we are extremely different from a nutritional context 😀

    • True enough; I’ve only seen zombies eat other zombies in a couple of stories.

  5. Tension is building between Sam and Abe… I like that. Abe must be thinking “oh crap, this one is going to be a tough nut to crack”.

    • Nothing a liberal application of violence won’t fix.

  6. to my way of thinking zombies will go after anything warm-blooded, which means just about any mammal. They tend to prey on humans because we are plentiful and easer to catch, but they would be perfectly happy with any other warm meat. (personally I think it would be a fun splatter flick to see a film where a bunch of zeds break into a zoo and try to attack the elephants, grizzly bears, and rhinos.) They don’t eat each other because zeds are basically ambient temperature. To my mind that doesn’t make them cannibals.

    • This is something I tend to go back and forth on. Sometimes I like it when the zeds eat everything, other times I want them to only eat living people.

  7. “Don’t think about it as control, Sam.” Love this quote! 😀

    • Hah, thanks.

  8. The old man is asking for an ice pick to his head some morning.

    • Hah

      • I don’t know for sure that Sam wants to be violent towards Abe about what he wants Sam to do, but I do think he’ll disagree rather strongly. Whether he can do this without wrecking your webcomic set, I don’t know! 😀

  9. Oh my… Sam is suddenly the bad-ass-character. Now that’s something I wouldn’t have expected before the flashback started, I can’t believe the flashback started in April last year, time goes so fast….

    • Wow, was it really that long ago?

      • I was amazed about how far back I had to go! And I was looking for the part where Abe asks about Sams wife, before the flashback starts; would you believe that episode is somewhere in 2012!

  10. Just thought of a discussion question even though it’s too late for tommorows comic: What habits would make an apocalapse difficult? or any other questions relating habits. Will most likely repost on comic #451, and congrats on 4 years and hopefully many more!

    • Just off the top of my head, a lot of religious traditions would be difficult or impossible to do in an apocalypse. Specifically, the Muslim tradition of morning and evening prayers, Catholic mass and the Jewish traditions of hand washing before meals and eating kosher foods.
      Though if someone was that devout to their religion, they would likely choose death over being sacrilegious anyway, so it’s not like they’d survive long after the start of the apocalypse anyway.

      • For Muslims specifically, if Mecca is shattered and destroyed, then they have nothing to face when praying and possibly cannot make a pilgrimage they’re supposed to once during their lifetime. For the Kosher foods, the Jewish tradition allows them to eat whatever they have to in a time of great need (Once I read a WWII book that described how a Jewish family found a barn with dried out pork everywhere and nothing else, so they ate that instead). The prayers and washing of hands would be difficult, but not impossible. It wouldn’t be close to holy water that they washed with, but they could pretend it is. I agree with how you concluded, the pope probably would be wooshed away somewhere before it reached the Vatican City, but if not, he would most likely chose death over no religion. And if you read all of this, great job!

  11. I feel that for the layperson, the reason why zombies are so disturbing is the cannibalistic implications of people eating people, but on a fundamental level, zombies are a different species.
    Let me put it this way; are vampires cannibals? No, most people consider them to be a different species, whether they are humans that were turned or pure-blood. Are werewolves cannibals? Maybe technically, but again, in their wolf forms, most people consider them to be a different species but if they continue to feed on their victim when they turn back to human form, it could be argued that they are now a cannibal.
    My own personal feelings largely depend on the type of zombie presented; walking corpses to me are about as human as vampires and so they aren’t cannibals but predators – it’s impossible to restore them back to their human selves so they’re basically not human anymore. On the other hand if they’re just “infected” people that could potentially be cured, as in 28 Days Later, then it does technically count as cannibalism, even though they’re not in control of their own thoughts or actions – they’re still humans eating other humans, even if they don’t realize it at the time.

    • That’s true, the best way to think about it is that the human element is gone. That’s why people are willing to kill zombies: they don’t consider them human. If they were like the pope or a priest and they believed it was a sin to murder, than they most likely believe they are cannibals but not murder them anyways because they still considered them human (which is true with zombies friends and relatives: You truly know them in their human form and most likely feel that they’re somewhere inside the shell of the zombie trying to eat you). It’s the fact that they aren’t any longer considered human is what makes them considered not cannibals for “eating” humans (which in most cases is biting arm or neck to zombify and zombify only [while in some books zombies occasionally feast on dead-for-over-24-hours people that died of natural causes and cannot be zombified]).