Welcome once more, dear readers, to another Infernal Review. I’ve been rather listless of late. You might even say I’m that I’m dead tired and as much as puns might make you groan, I can tell you zombies groan louder still. However, bad puns are nothing compared to what’ll happen when the zombie apocalypse comes. I think it’s important to keep one’s sense of humor when bad things like that happen. After all, life has it’s share of bad things.
It turns out that the web comic we’re looking at today is actually a remake, but since most of this post was written with the newer one in mind, I’ll be sticking to that one, even if it makes this review a bit shorter than normal.
Written and drawn by Alex Claw, aka Pyschomeltdown, All Manner of Bad is a series about a group of co-workers struggling to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Another zombie apocalypse? There’s, like, one every other Thursday”. Oh, but this one is different. Unlike all those others, this one’s set in the unfictional town of Tempe, Arizona.
How does that change anything?
I have no idea.
The art is stylized black and white, relying heavily on stark contrasts between light and shadows, and is very reminiscent of Mike Mignola’s style, with its heavy inking, empty eyed characters, and use of rectangles and rounded shapes. The style can sometimes make the comic feel more like a dark mosaic than a comedy gore series. Where other zombie comics might strive for detailed gore, background, and characters, this deceptively simpler style is perfectly suited to display both dark comedy and the psychological duress of living in a world where the deceased walk among the quick. When the living have eyes as empty as the dead’s, it can sometimes be hard to tell them apart.
The two main (introductory) characters are Jase and Bryan, two former co-workers who act as scouts and scavengers for their group of survivors. Both are your typical dude friends of ambiguous age. Of the two, Jase (the bald one) is more down to earth and mature, usually providing the straight man to Bryan’s eternal teen attitude and optimism. The two have significant others in Lucy, a young woman who’s been trained her whole life for the end of the world (due to alien invasion, but close enough), and Tiff, the token (presumably) black woman of the group, respectively.
The pacing for a comedy zombie story is very different from the pacing needed to make a good zombie drama. Somehow, however, All Manner of Bad has elements of both. It’s mostly a comedy action series, but it does manage to fit in small pieces of emotion along with the humor-infused carnage. This is mostly due to the comic’s dividing the tone between characters; scenes with Jase and Bryan are predominately light hearted and packed with action, while the more emotional and dramatic scenes are so far given to their beleaguered boss, Raul, who seems to carry the kind of dark troubles that make the foundation of a zombie survival series. The dialogue is faulty from time to time, with small misspellings and strange phrasing usually, though sometimes a few words might be missing entirely. 98% of the time, however, the dialogue is fine and the speech bubbles go where they should. The comic is divided up into several short “issues”, with each issue acting as a vignette in the lives of the characters as they continue to survive. The plot promises to take steps forward, as mysterious characters begin to appear and Raul informs the group of his decision to take back the world.
All in all, All Manner of Bad is a good comedy series that does manage to include touching bits of drama in its story. Sadly, like the zombies it depicts, the web comic is currently shambling on in a state of not-quite-living. Even as it is, however, it still shows promise and is worthy of a quick read, and with its current length, it really would be a quick read. Be careful, though. It might just infect you. Oh, and also, it’s not safe for children.
All Manner of Bad was created by Alex Claw. It, including all images used here, belongs to him. The comic is currently slated to update Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but a new page hasn’t been posted since April 9, 2012. This is apparently due to the creator’s busy schedule, which includes a number of other projects, as well as a blog and tumblr. If you’re interested, the older version can be found here. Perhaps we’ll take a look at it someday.