The Unbound Worlds crew just returned to one of the hottest panel discussions at Comic Con: “Reading with Brains: The Rise and Unrelenting Stamina of Zombie Fiction.” Moderated by Maryelizabeth Hart of genre bookstore par excellence Mysterious Galaxy, the panel featured a veritable who’s who in zombie books, including Max Brooks (World War Z, The Zombie Survival Guide, Recorded Attacks), Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer), Walter Greatshell (Xombies: Apocalypticon), Mira Grant (Feed), John Skipp (Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead), Amelia Beamer (The Loving Dead), Joan Frances Turner (Dust) and Ryan Mecum (Zombie Haiku).
One of the biggest items of news to come out of the panel was Brooks’ confirmation that Brad Pitt is set to star in the World War Z movie. Fans, needless to say, were incredibly excited, but Brooks hastened to add that the movie was still in development and had not been greenlit yet, cautioning fans that there was the chance that it may very well not get made. Still, he seemed optimistic about the movie in general, saying that Pitt had liked Matthew Michael Carnahan’s script so much that he personally requested the role.
While attendees were much abuzz about Brooks and his movie, the other panelists were plenty entertaining and informative on their own. Author and editor John Skipp – the force behind the seminal Books of the Dead zombie fiction collections – shared a great story about how that series was initially launched during a telephone conversation with George A. Romero. Skipp said that Romero was so skeptical that he offered to eat his hat if the books got off the ground. Skipp joked that he believed said hat was consumed with mustard.
Other high points:
Walter Greatshell spoke about how his Xombies novel was initially written as a response to what he saw as disturbing social changes in America after 9/11. He added that his xombies represented the negative side of societal change. Greatshell and Brooks had a great back and forth rapport, with Brooks good-naturedly ribbing Greatshell about his xombies, insisting that they weren’t “real zombies,” much to the delight of the attendees.
Ryan Mecum wowed the crowd by answering most of the questions of panelists and attendees in the form of haiku, and quipped that he’d go to department store Kohl’s for supplies in the event of a real zombie apocalypse.
Mira Grant joked that she had called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so many times while she was writing Feed that she wondered if she was on any government watch lists.
New author Joan Frances Turner said that she had written her book Dust after a family member’s death, and the story was from the perspective of zombies who could still feel and think, but were rejected by their loved ones. She said her primary influences were Night of the Living Dead and Carnival of Souls.
Amelia Beamer stated that zombies had been sexualized to some degree, and that her book, The Loving Dead, was written in a way to bring that to the surface.
Want more? Good! We recorded the entire panel and will be uploading it soon as a podcast. Keep watching the site!