Episode 466: Aftermath

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: Dominoes Falling

Traditional storytelling follows a pretty standard trajectory. You start with the exposition. The story has to be setup; we need to know the rules of the universe, what’s at stake, and who is involved. Once that’s all established, it’s time for the plot to get rolling, and things start to build up. Any 100-level writing class is going to tell you that this is rising action. As the story progresses, shit gets more and more real and the pace picks up. At some point, we reach the point of climax (boom, sexual imagery). The climax is where everything that’s been building up so far is directly addressed. After the climax, things start winding down. This is called the falling action, and gives us the immediate repercussions. Finally, we arrive at the denouement, which is where everything is wrapped up. We might even flash forward in time a bit to check in on our characters in the future.

Zombie stories typically don’t stray very far from this typical linear model. Ongoing stories, like this comic, work slightly differently. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still telling a linear story, but because it’s something ongoing, there’s a lot of different strings going at the same time. That way, as we check in on different characters, we can jump around to the various stages on the model.

About this Episode:

I tried to keep the framing and setup of the last two frames very similar, because I thought it would be cool. I kind of wish, in hindsight, that I had gone for a mirror image look, but I’m still pretty happy with it.

Discussion Question: Super Powered Zombies

I read a lot of zombies books. I mean, a whole lot of them. And, of course, I’m only scratching the surface of what’s out there. That makes things kind of tough for a zombie writer. How can they stand out from the crowd? One popular approach is to tweak the zombies. We have fast zombies and slow zombies. That’s pretty normal. But what about zombies that can teleport? Zombies that can dodge bullets? Zombies that can fly?

What do you think of these approaches? Are they still zombie stories? Are these monsters still zombies?

40 thoughts on “Episode 466: Aftermath”

  1. YES – I freaking called it!

    Time for Sam to find some luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrve! Awkward “I killed your entire family” lurve, but hey, its the ZA, you gotta find it where you can!

    • “Hey, I killed your family and all, but I’m thinking we could hook up? Maybe?… Please?”

      • Not to mention the whole “I tragically lost my loving wife and unborn child, but its been like 4 whole days now and I’m ready to move on with my life.”

        • I’m not saying it’s going to happen straight away-but let’s not forget, tragic and dramatic circumstances make people do weird things, and when 2 people are left alone together, thinking they might be the last people they might ever interact with, they are going to end up doing the horizontal tango!

        • To me, this is the biggest thing. Sam loved Sarah. He’s not going to forget that in a couple of days. He really hasn’t even had the chance to mourn.

        • Good point here Mark. If they do decide to stick together, something may spark down the line.

        • It will be interesting to see our less than badass boy Sam paired (platonicaly) with a more capable female partner.

      • That’s going to be a tough one to overcome.

    • Good show, Mark.

  2. Typo alert, Zombie cliche lookout: follow–>follows 😀

    • Thanks; fixing that now.

  3. If I’m seeing that blood spatter on Clem correctly, he got n icked in the ear or the side of his head. Not immediately fatal, so I reckon if he bleeds out and dies as a result of that, it will be slow and he’ll turn into a zombie much later on.

    Now, if Dave had intended for it to be a straight through head shot that killed him outright, that would be a lot different plus the exit would have been at the back of his head! 😀

    • I did intend for it to be a straight through head shot. I guess my Photoshop-Fu was weak that day.

      • If you think about it like this clean falling face down in the opposite direction still works out: clem’s tough guy act is just that. In fact without the protection of his hazmat suit he react a bit differently in the face of an unexpected zombie attack. The result? He is a coward and when Danny was attacked, clem begun retreating and thus he is shot while his body is still in motion and we get what Dave has giving us, an unexpected but completely believable headshot. Way to go Dave you are true genius.

        • Dont read too much into the way someone reacts to a headshot. Very wierd things can happen when the brain is abruptly damaged or destroyed. It not always like just turning off a light switch, there is frequently some type of spastic tensing of all or part of the body.

          If you do a little digging on the web you will find a fair amount of documentation on this relating to hostage situations. You know, the classic Hollywood scenario where the Bad Guy has a gun or knife trained on his hostage and the good guy takes him down with a snap shot between the eyes and he goes inconstantly limp.

          Military and Law Enforcement snipers have what they call a non-reflexive head shot where they aim to destroy the medulla obbligato and effectively disconnect the brain form the body instantly and without any physical reaction.

        • @Damage;
          Typo-alert; It’s the “Medulla oblongata”
          BTW, very interesting part about the non-reflexive head shot. Didn’t know that.

        • Oh mannnn! I even looked it up to make sure I spelled it correctly then I go and blow it with a typo.

  4. And zombified Abe is now chowing down, a zombie’s gotta do what a zombie’s gotta do! 😀 I sure hope he likes whatever Danny drinks in the mornings because he’s going to get a good dose of it along with Danny’s flesh! 😀

    • Hah, that’s what zombies do, man.

  5. I can imagine Sam and Emma escaping together from the zombie horde waiting outside the chapel 😀

    Another intense action episode in coming days 🙂

    • That’s the goal!

  6. You loose a wife… you gain a wife…
    That’s life in a ZA for ya 🙂

    (but if I were Sam I wouldn’t pickpocket my future wife’s dead brother…. but that’s just me maybe)

    • Man, you people just love your “shipping”.

      • Haha, okay… so I had to Google your response…
        Let’s just say I was in a strange mood this morning and I wrote the comment in a hangover 😉

        • I’m kind of ashamed at myself for using that term 🙂

  7. *Both brothers are dead*

    Emma: *impecable not worried face*

    You should consider changing these new characters’ faces in order to actually deliver some emotion. With Emma all cool and tranquile, that wiped the entire emotion of the moment. Just something for you to keep in mind.

    • Good point; I wish I would have used a paniced face for her.

  8. While I enjoy sci-fi and fantase genre as much as anyone, I kinda think that the whole “superpowered zombie” is a bridge too far. What, being impervious to pain and 95% of physical injury isnt enough for ya? I could buy into the idea that the virus behind the zombified humans might also mutate them into more efficent predators but thats about it.

    • These are roughly my thoughts as well, Damage.

  9. Different powered zombies are hard to establish once you’ve defined your zombies. The Night of the Living Dead/Walking Dead ones with a virus reanimating them are a little hard to change. BUT if you haven’t established yet how your zombies were created then you can go with some of the hundreds of other types of reanimated dead. Perhaps we have some of the Resident Evil zombies roaming around and there are a group of scientists tweeking the formula. Maybe this is more mystical and some Wizards are standing ready to send in the next wave of Undead. Aliens are always fun. The little Gray Guys are done probing with the zombies and now the bioconstructs are coming in.

    • Good point here; I don’t think you can add them to an existing story and still keep any sense of verisimilitude. Starting from scratch? Maybe. It’s still not my cup of tea.

  10. The marvel zombie series is pretty interesting, they keep there powers, but are fully fledged zombies. They keep some sense of who they are, but can’t stop the urge to eat flesh 🙂

    • I’ve always been tempted to check that one out, just for novelties sake, but I’ve never gotten around to it.

  11. I did a review for a great book where the zombies tend to literally stick together. Their body parts attach together as they get close so you end up with clumps of really gross monster zombies trying to get you.

    It was such a great idea.

    • So basically a zombie rat king? That’s pretty freaky.

      • That sounds a lot like the Dr Who Abzorbaloff only without the force field! That would be a freaky zombie indeed! 😀

  12. My zombie culture is all but recent movie (28 Day after, Shaun of the Dead, TWD,…) no books so my idea might probably be found already in some book stories.

    I easily imagine real animated dead bodies, I mean very dead you can’t “re-kill”, that can “regenerate” lost body parts, stuff like that. That will make them indestructible, the only thing you can do is hide from them.

    • Regeneration is an interesting one. It would make them more threatening, certainly, but it’s not as useful as it would be on a monster that responds to pain and tissue damage.

  13. When the guys are away, the depressed looser/pervert will play

  14. Should zombies be super powerful? In my opinion, no. I guess it depends. For instance, flying zombies seems more like a comical image to me than a scarier one. Perhaps the zombies could be regenerative. Guns and weapons would only slow down zombies, and running away or hiding would be the only way out.