HCF19 Interview: Heroes Meet “Zombies” in Tom Taylor’s DCeased

Everyone loves a good zombie, right? It sparks many a discussion: what would you do in the zombie apocalypse? How would you survive? What would be your weapon of choice?

With The Walking Dead in the midst of its 10th season, and Zombieland: Double Tap currently in theatres, the zombie genre shows no signs of slowing down. Naturally, it seems like the best time to turn that genre on its head, and where better to do it than in comics!

DCeased writer, Tom Taylor, tackles the zombie genre with a fresh perspective, providing readers with gruesome zombies that, in fact, aren’t zombies at all. The decay and ultimate undead spawn from an event that could (and would) only ever happen in the DC Universe, pitting our beloved heroes against stakes that feel higher than ever.

Taylor sat down for a number of interviews* – with the folks at DC Comics, CBR.com, and The Beat – to discuss his new take on zombies, the contagious techno-virus and following pandemic, and how the heroes of the Justice League react to that pandemic. Check out the interview below with Tom Taylor to get the inside scoop on DCeased, and don’t forget to grab DCeased #1 for FREE at your local comic shop on Saturday, October 26th as part of Halloween ComicFest!

At its heart, DCeased has probably the most direct high concept imaginable: DC superheroes meet zombies. But there seems to be a lot more happening behind the scenes than a simple zombie outbreak story. What about the concept caught your attention, and how would you characterize the development of this story since then? Halloween ComicFest, HCF, DC, DCeased

Honestly, I’m not a zombie fan. But I love a challenge, and I love twisting the expectations of readers. When editor Ben Abernathy first reached out about this, I was actually neck-deep in another DC project, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this. I kept sending more and more ideas to Ben. And we kept getting more excited as we riffed on this. Working out how the outbreak begins. Why it begins. What it is. And that it’s not actually zombies. It’s something that can only happen in the DC Universe.

It’s been so much fun seeing the role each of these heroes or villains have to play in this story. How and at what point do you decide which characters are going to be zombiefied and which will be the survivors?

It hinges on moments and who I want to see survive. As soon as people started to hear about this, everyone just assumed that Batman would come and have some sort of plan to save the day. But we wanted to destroy expectations with this book and have real shocks and stakes. We didn’t want to fall into any of those comfort zones that people may have seen in DC comics before. Even the Trinity isn’t safe. In this book, anyone can be taken off the table.

Of course, with any universe-wide story, it's about more than just the biggest heroes. Who in DCeased are you having fun working with that fans would never expect to play a big role in a story like this?

I don’t want to give too much away, but we will see unholy alliances. And characters like Mera and Poison Ivy will pop up.

That said, Superman is positioned as a main character of this story. There does seem to be a kind of tonal question with how the Man of Steel responds to something this dark. How does he ground this story in a more identifiable DC feel?

Superman is my favorite hero, and has been since for as long as I can remember. How he responds to something like this is so much of this story. Because it has to feel real. Superman can’t ignore people in peril, no matter what else is happening. And we’ll see the cost of this in DCeased.

The horror of it all really has become its own thing. Between DCeased, Metal, Justice League Dark — it’s all part of a big wave of new horror elements coming into the world of superheroes. Do you think that’s a subgenre within superhero comics that’s just going to keep getting bigger?

Hm…I don’t know. I mean these things tend to have a shelf life; they can’t be undead forever…but right now it’s really capturing the imagination. It’s because you get to see the heroes that you know and the stories that you know — you get to a comfort level when you’re reading these comics where you expect, “Oh, well, Batman’s going to come and he’s going to save the day and he’ll have some master plan and Wonder Woman will show up and she’ll be inspiring and amazing and Superman shows up to be inspiring and—”

We’re just not doing that. Every page is a shock or a surprise that people haven’t seen before and the stakes are real.

Tell us more about working with your collaborators, Trevor Hairsine and Stefano Gaudiano. They’re a perfect fit for this series.

Ben and I discussed a few artists in the lead-up to this, but as soon as we found out Trev was available, that was it. This story is dramatic and epic and horrific, and Trev can balance all of this so well. Then, having the inker of Walking Dead, Stefano Gaudiano, is just a no-brainer (pun definitely unintended). That was a stroke of genius from Ben Abernathy.

So, what can we expect in future issues? Is there anything in particular that’s going to blow our minds?

Well, I can certainly tell you that a mind is blown. It’s a very big one! You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when you read that page. It’s possibly the most horrific image of the entire book. We’re also going to see some more heroes coming up. We haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet, but she’s coming. We haven’t seen any Flashes. You’ll get to see Green Canary in action. There’s going to be some more heroes and more big moments.

Find a comic shop near you to celebrate Halloween ComicFest!


*Halloween ComicFest interview Frankensteined together courtesy of existing interviews at DC Comics, CBR.com, and The Beat

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