Great Zombies in History is an Indie anthology graphic album published by McFarland’s Graphic Novel imprint that purports to (re)tell various historic events as if they were precipitated by zombie attacks rather than the events we’ve been taught in school. Now while you might be justified in wondering how many different zombie stories can be told throughout history, the response we have is, actually, quite a few, and thus, we strongly urge to try out this very entertaining comic. For whatever reason, the presence of zombies coming to eat our brains has taken over our collective pop culture consciousness in recent years, and now they have become fair game for virtually everybody’s imagination, and creative pen.
Needless to say, Great Zombies in History is a fun read and as the creators spin their yarns from ancient Greece, to early America, to the edge of space, the comic tells the secret history of those lovable undead creatures from the dank, dark, dead places of our collective minds! Writers George O’Connor, Dan Rivera, and Neil Fisher — along with the rest of their team — have managed to craft a series of stories that not only perfectly capture the zeitgeist of the mindless, shuffling hoards, but have managed to stitch in some very compelling explanations of some historical situations as well (think Roanoke Virginia and Jack the Ripper, the ancient Spartans vs. the Persian Army), plus tell of encounters of historical figures with the undead (Teddy Roosevelt, Major Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin, and others).
The graphic album collects stories that were originally published in comicbook format as a three-issue series from Elevator Pitch Press, and essentially attempts to (re)-teach us all the George Santayana lesson that those who do not learn from history are apparently doomed to be eaten. Because, according to O’Connor and company, there is a secret history to be told of the undead. Here you will be able to read to read about how Samurai, Vikings, Spartans, and even Teddy Roosevelt each dealt with the shuffling, oncoming zombie horde. Readers will get to witness the last stand in the Zombie War of 1812, discover what really happened to the lost colony of Roanoke Island, and learn the real reason Russia lost the space race.
After reading this lengthy (116 pages) tome we come to perhaps, understand just a bit more about our cultural fascination with the brain-and-flesh-eating undead. Given that there is no extensive literary tradition of vampires (as there is with, say vampires or werewolves) they have become something of a blank canvas onto which we (both writers and audience) can essentially project any sort of analogy one feels onto their deteriorating features. This then has essentially helped propel zombies into the cultural touchstone that they have become, due to their very nature; the use of zombies as a literary device can be spun into something more analogous of the human condition. So, for all intents and purposes, we are all allowed a certain degree of autonomy in order to conceptualize zombies any way we each see fit
Or — perhaps the popularity of zombies is actually even more simple as the mindless undead can simply be reduced to a putrefied shambling, ravenous hoard of attackers that you can blow apart with automatic small arms fire. Needless to say, this is up to both the creator and to posit and the intended audience to enjoy. Still, for whatever reason, zombies are still extremely popular and will — near as we can tell — continue to remain so in the public eye, especially in comics and graphic albums such as Great Zombies in History.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.