I have a particular affinity for zombies. When I was an undergrad, I had the opportunity to introduce Max Brooks, author of The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z, an expert in the zombie field, for our University Activities Committee. In his honor, I dressed up as a zombie, rubbing myself with mud so I would look fresh from the grave for the meet and greet.
Like many of the other creatures from the list so far, zombies explore a fascination with death and rebirth. Historically originating from a magic ritual, many contemporary zombies are a result of fallout, radiation, and other natural and unnatural causes. Some are fast, some are slow, some crave brains and others are simply looking for love.
It is the flexibility of zombies that makes them a great insert into many pre-existing worlds. There have been Marvel Zombies and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, finding their own way to seamlessly integrate these creatures into established stories. They also lead to a lot of creativity for creating costumes as anyone, fictional or not, and from every time period, could be a zombie.
One example of this seamless integration is Afterlife with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla. Archie is having a renaissance lately. Mark Waid and Fiona Staples’ run on Archie and Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson’s Jughead have reinvigorated the Archie franchise, but they ran on the coattails of the success of Afterlife with Archie.
After Hot Dog is hit by a car, Jughead begs Sabrina the Teenaged Witch to bring him back. A novice witch herself, Sabrina does her best to cast an expert spell, but something goes wrong. Being banished to another dimension as punishment, Riverdale descends into a post-apocalyptic nightmare. When this book arrived in my library, a middle aged co-worker said, “Look at what they are doing to Archie now?” so it isn’t for everyone. But if you are willing to give zombies a chance and love the Archie aesthetic and good old fashioned Americana, Afterlife with Archie is the perfect combination of horror and nostalgia for the holiday season.