the co-creator of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD returns to remind you of the true meaning of fear

The writer of the classic film NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD brings his all-new, never-before-seen zombie masterpiece to comics! 1971: It's been three years since the blood-soaked night that the dead rose from their graves, attacking and devouring the living. Now, the legacy of that horrific and unexplained event is about to be unleashed once again upon an unsuspecting world... But this time, there may be no escape for those in the terrifying clutches of the cannibalistic, living dead! Hidden within the concrete walls of a secret medical research lab, someone has been studying the last remaining undead remnants of the marauding zombie army. Unleashed by the untimely intervention of a group of road-weary bikers looking for an easy score, the walking dead renew their gut-ripping campaign of terror. As each member of a rural community dies in the grotesque feeding frenzy of the zombies, so does the nightmare army grow, as half-eaten victims rise up to join the ranks of the undead. Can anything possibly contain the contagion being spread by the Escape Of The Living Dead? As well as this regular cover by series artist Dheeraj Verma, it's also available with a Wraparound and Gore by Verma, a Terror cover by Mike Wolfer, and a super-limited black leather cover with art by Mike Wolfer.

Escape of the Living Dead is scheduled to begin in October 2005 and is available for preorder now at a comic retailer near you. Please support your local retailer and Avatar Press by asking your retailer to carry Escape of the Living Dead. Escape of the Living Dead is also available for order now from our direct sales agent.

Escape of the Living Dead TM & ©2005 John Russo.

Avatar Editor-in-Chief William Christensen talks Escape of the Living Dead

Zombie comics and movies have been particularly popular over the past couple of years. What makes Escape of the Living Dead stand out among the shuffling masses?

We've wanted to do more zombie comics for a long time, and this is the project that finally grabbed me by the throat and dragged me down into the teaming throngs of the undead. We did Joe R. Lansdale and Tim Truman's Dead Folks awhile back, and that also kind of gave me the appetite to do more. But with the rising number of zombie books and films out there over the past couple years, it kind of created a situation where I felt we should bide our time and wait for the opportunity to do something really special and unique in the genre. Doing a zombie comic with one of the guys who literally helped define the genre with Night of the Living Dead is that opportunity we've been waiting for.

The Night of the Living Dead tree has grown a few different twisted and gnarled branches over the past few decades. Where does Escape of the Living Dead fit in?

Right at the root. Make no mistake, this is that same brand of stark, relentless horror that Night of the Living Dead practically invented. We really wanted to go back to the source in terms of the tone, the tension that the pacing creates, and the waves of fear that flow from that. So spiritually, Night of the Living Dead is our bible. Chronologically, the solicitation blurb gives you some idea of the timing - 1971: It's been three years since the blood-soaked night that the dead rose from their graves, attacking and devouring the living. Now, the legacy of that horrific and unexplained event is about to be unleashed once again upon an unsuspecting world.

What's working with John Russo like?

I first got in touch with John a few months ago to ask him about Night of the Living Dead stuff and I knew within 2 minutes that I had to work with the guy. He's got that edge in his voice that creators get when they're burning to get their ideas out into the world. I'm pretty sure if he had gotten his start maybe 10 or 15 years later, he'd have become a comic book creator, because I think the situation in our industry suits him better. His work turned out the best when he was working on an indy type of project with a few other dedicated and talented individuals who had this intense desire to unleash their creation on the public. We are recreating that kind of situation for him. No studio goons or any other kinds of business suits who think of your work as product and push and pull you in places you don't want to go and generally get in between you and your audience to screw things up. Just a few dedicated people who really burn to unleash this thing on the world. That's indy comics in general and it's definitely Avatar specifically. We've brought in Mike Wolfer to help us put John's material into comics form. Mike's been creating horror comics for over 15 years now, most recently with our launch of Friday the 13th, and is also well known for his collaborations with Warren Ellis. Mike is an absolute master of pacing on the comic page as readers of his work in Strange Killings can attest. That's exactly what we need for a zombie comic. If we were making this as a movie, Mike would maybe be called the assistant director. He's sweating the details and making sure this all gets put together the right way.

What about series artist Dheeraj Verma? He's a new name to most comic fans.

Dheeraj has worked with us for a year or two now on some horror-related projects such as short stories in Joe R. Lansdale's By Bizarre Hands, and I've been wanting to get him on a feature-length project for awhile now. He walks that fine line between polish and raw emotion that is perfect for horror but very rare in a comic artist. In a way he reminds me of another artist who has worked in this general area, Chaos! great Steven Hughes. His work is not that similar stylistically, but in the way that he spills his guts on every page. His line just naturally creates drama. He has an approach that makes him a great fit for a zombie comic.

Are there more zombie comics in Avatar's future?

Definitely. Zombies are a staple of horror, and horror is one of the things we do best. Creators we've worked with such as Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Brian Pulido, Garth Ennis, Mike Wolfer, and Tim Vigil have produced some of the best horror comics ever created. Horror has been one of the cornerstones of what Avatar does since the beginning of the company, and I have a feeling zombies will be hounding us to the bitter end. In the long term, we've got something in the works from a major creative team. And if Escape of the Living Dead finds its audience like I think it will, you'll be tasting that particular brand of terror again just when you least expect it.

a new series begins in the tradition of stark, unrelenting cinematic horror...