The Other Dead is a new mini-series from IDW Publishing from the minds of Joshua Ortega and Digger T. Mesch dealing with a zombie outbreak that only affects the animal kingdom. The first issue was available for a few weeks before New York Comic Con began. Ortega and Mesch were on hand in Artists Alley, but also put together a panel where they were joined by artist Qing Ping Mui, cover artist Dave Dorman, creative consultant Kevin Eastman, logo designer Reynir Haukson, and one more guy whose name I cannot remember but might be contributing a cover down the line.
Right off the bat, I thought something was off with this panel. The Other Dead is a pretty new book and I didn't think that it had a huge following just yet. That being said, there was a huge line to get in well before the panel started. This didn't seem like your average zombie crowd though. Then I noticed that the vast majority of these people were playing Nintendo 3DS. A quick look at the schedule for the room revealed that there was a Nintendo panel following this one so these people were looking to get a seat in the room ahead of time. That's disappointing.
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Fortunately, Ortega did not let this get him down. He did his best to get the crowd psyched and led with one of the powerhouses of the comic book industry that he had on stage with him: Kevin Eastman, who had just gotten married a few days prior. Before getting into his comic at all, he opened it up to questions for the audience, knowing that people would want to talk to Eastman as he co-created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The questions started rolling in, ranging from the origins of the characters to his thoughts on the new Nickelodeon series to the Michael Bay remake that's on the way. At one point Eastman said “We drew Ninja Turtles because we couldn't draw regular turtles.”
After the Turtle Power was satiated, Ortega jumped into The Other Dead. The comic had started as a film treatment by Digger T. Mesch and was originally an over-the-top comedy. The two worked on it to bring it somewhere between horror and satire. Digger said that it felt like such an obvious concept that hadn't been pursued much in comics. He's described it as Jurassic Park meets The Walking Dead. The book was actually going to be released last year but was pushed back. The team was told repeatedly not to publish it in the fall, which makes no sense because why would you skip October for a horror comic?
The comic had drawn some controversy due to one of its variant covers featuring a gun-toting President Obama. Drawn by Dave Dorman, the cover got some mainstream media coverage and was actually held up in customs at one point. The creative team joked that Obama was always a character in the story, but they weren't anticipating him almost bringing the country to war when the cover was made. It just so happened that the comic was released in the midst of the Syria situation. Ortega said that he would support a president who would fight zombies. “Obama kicks the shit out of zombie animals.”
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The entire animal kingdom is affected by this virus in the comic. All of it. Lions, tigers, bears, sharks, chimpanzees, even goldfish. “Animals want revenge because we eat them all the time.” No humans will be infected throughout the series.
When asked what their favorite zombie animal was, the answers varied. Artist Qing Ping Mui said that dogs were his favorite because they're our friend. They're also fun to draw. Eastman piggybacked on this, saying that he had three wiener dogs at home and it would be terrifying to be eaten alive by a little animal named “Pickles.”
Some final tidbits:
- The main character of the series is named Tony Romero, a nod to the legendary director of Night of the Living Dead.
- There's an Other Dead beer coming.
- Does PETA support zombie animals? Look for the PETA ad in issue #4.
The first two issues of The Other Dead are currently available at your local comic shop or favorite digital device.
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