A Beginner’s Guide to: iZombie
Sometimes it’s easiest for new readers (or old readers, for that matter) to pick up shorter, self-contained series – especially when they aren’t too long. At only 28 issues, Chris Roberson and Mike Allred’s iZombie is a great place to start, especially in the Halloween season!
The series centres on Gwen, a zombie, and her attempts to live a regular life – which is easier said than done. She has to eat a brain once a month to keep her mental faculties, but with the brains come memories, and Gwen is often forced to carry out her last meal’s final wishes. To further complicate things, her best friends are a ghost and a were-terrier (like a werewolf, only cuter), her town is overrun with vampires, and she falls in love with a monster hunter who would kill her if he knew what she really was. Bummer, right?
The concept may not sound like the most original comic, but Roberson puts his own twists on familiar tropes; Buffy never found human souls coming back to inhabit the bodies of chimpanzees. Roberson’s writing is funny and full of reverence for pop cultural monsters (one of the series’ primary antagonists is essentially the Bride of Frankenstein), which is enhanced by Mike Allred’s pop art style. With Allred comes interesting page layouts and a neatness that means that even for a series featuring zombies, the gore isn’t too disgusting. And despite the horror tropes, this feels much more like Scooby-Doo than Night of the Living Dead. Laura Allred’s vibrant colouring makes this feel even more like a cartoon you might have watched as a kid, only with directionless characters out of a modern comedy aimed at 20-somethings. Aside from being monsters, these characters’ lives are stiflingly normal. The rampant pop cultural references will make this a delight for genre fans, but they’re generally not esoteric, and the characters are endearing enough to appeal to anyone who enjoys a sense of humour in their comics.
For anyone coming over from superhero comics, the characters here will be refreshing too; we have the suave and cool monster hunters, and the vampires are basically a sorority, but we also have an assortment of nerds and grounded relatable characters. Have you ever wanted to read a comic where a werewolf (well, were-terrier) spends the full moon playing video games? Roberson wanted to create characters whose lives kept on going as usual despite supernatural effects, so these characters look a lot like their audience. On top of that, these characters are incredibly diverse, with queer characters, people of colour, and interesting women all over the place. Diversity might not be at the top of the list of priorities for every reader, but it certainly shouldn’t be a deterrent either.
With Roberson’s hilarious and often giddy script and the Allreds’ fabulous art, this is a fun comic to check out for newbies and veterans alike. Art, themes, and dialogue are highly accessible and would provide and would provide excellent gateway into the medium. While it gets a bit heavy toward the end, most of the series is a string of goofy adventures, and sometimes “fun” is enough to celebrate in a comic. You’ll get more than that here – decent worldbuilding, sweet character interaction, and some memorable bizarreness – but if you’re looking for something amusing this Halloween season (or any other season), this is the comic for you.