Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Reviewed by: Joe Mossman
Regrettably, I’ve never been to the legendary San Diego Comic-Con, but I don’t doubt for a second that its walls have absorbed many an argument over what kind of close-quarters weapon you would want in a zombie apocalypse (katana), whether it’d be better to fight or flee (fight), and of course, where zombies would be most likely to first appear. I mean, they’ve appeared pretty much everywhere. Malls, carnivals, English pubs, the Old West, planes … the only place they haven’t turned up is at Comic-Con itself. The one place on Earth nobody would be surprised to see them.
What’s surprising is that it took so long for somebody to explore the idea. Writer Sam Humphries does it in a clever and suitably fanboy style, with a group of geeks trapped at the convention center when a misbegotten hotdog meets one indiscriminate comic book fan and boom, zombie outbreak. I think what I enjoyed most about Fanboys vs. Zombies was that none of the fanboys (or fangirls) in the story fit any of the tiresome “geek” stereotypes that Hollywood’s been beating into the ground for the last thirty years. They actually look like real people…in some cases like people I know personally. Two hot chicks, a suave blond beefcake, a goateed video store clerk…even the one fat guy is allowed his dignity despite being named Burger. Thank character designer Humberto Ramos for giving them believable appearances; thank Humphries for giving them personal troubles and conflicts beyond the usual “I’m socially awkward” baloney. And thank Jerry Gaylord for giving them life. Gaylord’s angular, cartoony style fits the lighthearted take on the genre and the characters…even the gore is somehow PG. Given the setting, there are a few little visual in-jokes for convention-goers and general geekdom, but don’t expect to see any familiar faces out in the open: both Humphries and Gaylord stop short of referencing any real properties. You’ll see sort-of Green Lanterns, maybe/maybe-not Super Marios, and a kind-of-but-not-really Optimus Prime, among others. It’s annoying. That’s not a knock at the comic or its writers, I realize that copyright paranoia is a part of the climate these days, and nobody wants to get sued. It just bugs me that you have to be afraid to show things that, you know, exist.
Ignore my rant. It’s still a great read, very funny, and surprisingly original. There is some nice alternate covers too, including one Star Wars-inspired piece by Matteo Scalera and Archie Van Buren. A little well-crafted metafiction always goes down smoothly.