NEW STORY: "Ain't No Grave," by Magen Toole and John David Brown
Today, because we want you to be happy, we bring you a really excellent story that will make you worry (really hard!) about love, death, togetherness, feelings, and all that other gross made-up shit that we tell kids to scare them.

We have never published a comic before. This is our first comic. We HAVE published a Toole story before, because she is so dang good. And John David Brown? That motherfucker can draw. That motherfucker can draw anything. You don't even know.

Also in this story, there are zombies, but they are pretty much incidental. I am unimpressed by zombies now. Whether they are actually the living dead clawing their way out of their graves, or they are the "dead inside" people that you see around you every day, the living dead inspire nothing in me but boredom.

That's what makes this story so genius. In "Ain't No Grave," zombies are everywhere. Just like how zombies are everywhere in our culture these days.

Zombie movies, zombie novels, zombie porn, zombie lunchboxes, zombie video games, zombie protests, zombie dating services, zombie dentists, zombie real estate agents, zombie nutrition information, zombie low-calorie fruit bars.

But in "Ain't No Grave," our protagonist barely notices or cares. Just like me. Just like you.

The "zombie narrative" has become the first early-21st century fiction template, replacing the "alien narrative" as the dominant, go-to graft that can supposedly make an otherwise armless story grab you.

There are plenty of good reasons why the zombie narrative has become so pervasive:

1. The American empire is dying. Just as the Victorians became preoccupied with death at the end of the British empire, Americans are also now inventing horror stories to scare themselves, while at the same time belling their graves in order to prevent premature burial.

2. People are living longer than ever. The fear of inevitable life-extension drugs for the rich churns in every heart. Zombies are immortal, but mindless. The hazy future we all see in our dreams includes immortal, evil vampires (the rich) with immortal, evil zombie slaves (the poor) rounding up and murdering the last human beings who would rather die of natural causes, thank you very much (the middle class or whatever. YOU!).

3. The baby boomers are everywhere. We are surrounded by shambling old people who will not die and who are living off of our brains. If you are in your twenties right now, you are basically being torn apart every day by nonagenarians who have one heart attack a week and yet who keep voting that your marriage should be illegal. Oldites with olditis are filling up the world. They are angry at you for your youth, yet they do not want to die. We may have to put iceaxes in their brains.

4. All good stories must be done to death. Back when Romero and O'Bannon were working the genre, zombie stories were all deep metaphor and high symbolism. Now the stories are all just screaming and make-up. Early zombie narratives : modern zombie narratives :: Raymond Chandler : CHiPS.

Sure, zombies are inherently interesting. Aliens are also inherently interesting. So are luchadores, financial services products, and twin experiments.

But Magen Toole and John David Brown's "Ain't No Grave" is better than that.

This story is actually terrifying.

It is about eternal love.

Eternal love?

Eternal marriage?

Oh my god.

I am sleeping with the light on tonight.

I am going to board up my windows and doors.

I feel the urgent need to own a shotgun.

I need a sword. And a chainsaw. And a gassed-up helicopter.

Posted by miracle on Sat, 08 Oct 2011 13:34:27 -0400 -- permanent link

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