Zombie Survival Guide, The: Recorded Attacks by Brooks, Max, 2009

Zombie Survival Guide, The: Recorded Attacks by Brooks, Max - Book cover from Amazon.co.uk

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Those of you who have spent any time reading these review pages should know by now that there is really one thing that I will seek out with more fevor than SF: Zombie tales. To put it bluntly, I LOVE zombie stories, and the best one that I have ever found is Max Brooks' World War Z. So it was a feeling of gleeful shock that washed over me when in the Seattle/Tacoma airport that I stumbled upon Brook's newest work, The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks. The Zombie Survival Guide was Brooks' first published work; a tounge-in-cheek survival guide for when the zombie hordes rise from their graves and try to lunch on one's brains. The Recorded Attacks volume is an illustrated series of twelve vignettes about various zombie attacks that have occured in the past. When I saw it sitting on the shelf I did not even bother to open it. I was a little put back when the cashier told me I had to pay her $18 for the thing, but I figured "what the hell? It's Brooks! It can't be bad!" How wrong I was.

I am having a hard time deciding whether this graphic novel is a contractual obligation book, or if some marketing peon teamed Brooks up with a graphic artist in an ill-concieved attempt to harvest that ever elusive corporate jabberwocky, synergy. This thing is a complete waste of time. The art work is pretty much top knotch - Ibraim Roberson - whom I have never heard of - did the artwork, but if the stories took more than five minutes each to write, I'll eat my hat. For each 8-10 page vignette Brooks delivered less than a few hundred words. The editors made the poor decision to divide each written story up into blocks of 5-10 words each, then place each of those blocks within a single panel, and surround them with elipses so as to make it obvious that they have to be read as a unified whole. The result is jarring and disjointed - the reader has to put up with sometimes up to ten internal pauses just to read a single sentence - and when you consider that Brooks was pretty much phoning it in anyway . . . well, one wonders how this thing got Brooks' approval in the first place.

I have a habit when I find that I am watching something terrible on TV. I like to turn the sound all the way down and see if I can make a good story from the images alone. I honestly think that this book would have been better if Brook's contributions had been entirely removed, and the reader had only the artwork to work with. Roberson's images are beautifully and skillfully done and very praise-worthy. To my eye his faces are a little bit off - perhaps with too little detail, but his renditions of the musculature of bodies and his use of shadow is superb, and the horrific details are startlingly clear. Unfortunately, the text is placed often so that it cannot be missed. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Copyright 2009, Gregory Tidwell

Reviewed by GTT · Rating Rating of 0.5 star(s)


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