Written by Chad Waters & Matt Rose
Illustrated by Jim Mahfood
Hard to believe we’ve come this far. Beyond Shaun of the Dead, beyond Land of the Dead and a Dawn of the Dead remake. How is it that Chad Waters and Matt Rose’s spunky, chunky When Zombies Attack! remains buried beneath feet of obscurity? The acronym P.M.A.C., at the very least, should be known by the droves of horror fans out there who like their entertainment from beyond the grave, yet somehow the group known as the Post Mortem Animation Control still raises a curious eyebrow when mentioned to die-hard zombie freaks. For shame, I say!
To catch you up, it all began as the short film called P.M.A.C.: When Zombies Attack!, a reality spoof that cribbed its styling from the long-running COPS show. Except, instead of following the boys in blue, we follow Officer Frank of the P.M.A.C. as he scours the neighborhoods of Burke County in search of “wakers” – those are zombies to you and me. Cleverly executed by Waters and Rose, this indie production, in its limited running time, doesn’t just tickle the funny bone, it gnaws the meat right off it. And if you’re not dead tire from busting a gut over this short, the duo followed it up with Waker Safety which takes its cue from the cheesy educational films of the 1950s; consequently, this project inspired a line of Waker puppets – you may have seen them on the shelves of Hot Topic last year. The short is available for download on the Griim Grotto Goods site (linked to above).
Fright filmmakers – from Eric Red to Rob Zombie to George Romero – as of late have been turning their twisted efforts to the limitless world of comic books to get their horror jones on. Reason being? No budget. No worries of MPAA involvement. No problem! Now Waters and Rose have hopped on this delicious gorewagon to expand their P.M.A.C. universe and, in all honesty, it loses some spark in the translation. Officer Frank takes the back seat in part one of Don’t Shoot the Messenger, acting as a sage to P.M.A.C. newcomer Chet, a timid mama’s boy with telekinesis who witnesses first-hand a new threat to Burke County: talking wakers. Except these undead are only momentarily vocal until a mysterious black gunk is expelled from their body. Then they’re back to, er, normal. In the walking dead sense. Could a liquor store vamp be responsible? We’ll find out soon enough…
The biggest change-up in this endeavor from Waters and Rose is the perspective from which we view the P.M.A.C.’s antics. There’s a definite feeling of separation from the action, obviously, because we’re no longer watching everything unfold in front of the roving camera’s lens ala Cops. The amateur video/first person perspective vibe is absent and I always found that to be the charm of the first short film. It was ludicrous and original in its own right. On the page, sadly, Zombies just becomes another horror comic featuring an enforcement group of some type up against the supernatural. That said, Waters and Rose have still concocted an entertaining and madcap spin on the zombie lore. It’s a hoot to see their undead take on the personas of corroding door-to-door salesmen, bumbling their way across the neighborhood with the aid of Jim Mahfood’s black and white pencil and ink work. It’s too early to say anything about our leading men, their characters will have room to grow in future issues, but for now there’s a palpable bond between Chet and Frank that’s amiable and I’ll be curious to see where the former’s “abilities” will take him and how they’ll be accepted by others.
If anything, the pulp representation of WZA is an appetizing holdover until that day comes when Officer Frank returns to the small screen to show us how to pull off effective “head shots” that’ll put a waker down real fast.
3 out of 5