Lansdale and Truman’s Dead Folks

Any recent Avatar Press releases sell-out before you could get to them or just slip under your radar? Here are some reviews by industry critics to help you to decide which titles you wish to catch up on (first)…

Short But Gruesome Zombie Ride, May 11, 2005

Joe Lansdale is one of the best horror writers in the business today and it’s great to see someone putting out comic adaptations of his stories. His graphic and visceral style is well-suited to the comics. This tale is based on a classic Romero-esque zombie story he wrote called “On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks”. It’s sort of a Dawn of the Dead meets Omega Man type story. Lansdale provides an introduction in the book that features are by Tim Truman, best known for his Grimjack series for First Comics back in the 1980’s. Lansdale touts Truman as the finest comic artist in the business. That may be stretching things a tad bit but Truman is very good. Oddly though, while the full page illustrations in this book by Truman are quite gorgeous, the actually story art is somewhat bland and has a rushed look to it. It’s done strictly in black and white with out any grays or even zip-a-tone to give the art and depth or shading and Truman’s usual fine line work is missing.

The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a virus was released causing the dead to return to life to feed on the living. Pretty standard stuff there. A bounty hunter enters a desert strip club where they actually have nude female zombies as the entertainment. Their mouths are sealed shut so they can’t bite and the sign outside advertises them as “perfumed and maggot-free”. Nice…The bounty hunter is after a murderer named Calhoun and after a brief brawl, he takes his prey into custody. While driving through the desert they’re attacked by a tank-like vehicle and captured by a band of zombies and fanatical nuns who serve a man who calls himself Lazarus. This man, we discover, is the one who actually created the virus that spread throughout the world. He’s now using the blood of those not yet affected to try and find a cure. Lazarus has found a way to control the zombies and they now worship him as a God. With the help of one of the nuns who knows Lazarus is mad and wants out, the three escape into the desert for the final, grim climax to the story.

Like much of Landsdale’s work, this is a raw, bloody, and bleak tale. There’s no heroic figures here to root for. The story is short but intense. The idea of lap-dancing zombies is thoroughly bizarre but probably quite accurate if a situation like this ever came to pass. Using a Disney-style theme park as the lair of Lazarus and his zombies was a nice little dig as well. I’ll give the story five stars but I still think the art could have been a bit better, especially having seen Truman do so much outstanding work over the years. This one is definitely for mature readers.

Reviewed by Tim Janson

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