There comics that you can pick up and not put down until you’ve finished, but the super tense, packed Dead Roots: The Anthology is not one of them. Not because it’s awful, far from it, it’s because the stories of terror and suffering inside its pages are so fraught, so gory that you’ll need a break or two.
Published, originally, via a KickStarter campaign, this collection of short comics by a wide range of artists and writers, follows the world and its inhabitants as all life as we know it goes into meltdown. It’s the zombie apocalypse, and it’s a lot more convincing than Brad Pitt’s stab at World War Z. No one story shows the source of the outbreak, though the characters do speculate, but it shows, warts and all, the fallout from a zombie pandemic.
What’s brilliant about this collection is that every story is unique, but that none stray from the basic principles that are established in its lore during the initial comic. Bites are a problem and the dead can come back. They just set-up the principles and get on with telling the many stories that there would be, should something like it come to pass.
There are a lot of things going on in this graphic, and there was definitely a risk of Mike Garley putting together an anthology that wanted to pull itself apart. But the stories which range from 2-5 or so pages all gel together really well and there’s clearly been a lot of thought put into their arrangement.
Most of the stories in this anthology are pretty special, but a few definitely caught my eye, like ‘Til Death, written by Kevin Lehane, art by Dean Beattie, which looks surprisingly cutesy for what it is. It’s one of the calmer moments in the collection, but with a decent ending. On the other end is the grittier, written by David Bishop with art by Matt Rooke, that looks at how things fall to pieces at what appears to be an insurance company.
I don’t have an outright favourite moment from the collection. I do appreciate how they all show a crumbling of society from within, how people don’t always have to be selfish, and that big government would probably be powerless to do anything. There’s no huge groups here, just people getting by as they can and because many of the stories are set in the UK, there’s hardly any guns, so you’ve got characters who really do need to think on their feet.
“But the stories which range from 2-5 or so pages all gel together really well…”
If you’re looking for some indie tales involving zombies this Halloween then tracking down a copy would definitely be worth your time. It’s not your 100% usual zombie yarn, which is good, because while I enjoy reading, watching and playing stuff of the zombie subgenre there is a lot of samey stuff out there.
Our reviewer is one of the original Kickstarter backers of this book and is friends with anthology contributor James Henry. Dead Roots: The Anthology is out now and available through Mike Garley’s Big Cartel page.