Happy Halloween 2013! (Unlife)

Hello reader(s) and HAPPY HALLOWEEN! My apologies for posting late.

Parties, costumes, scary movies, and monstrously massive mounds of sugary sweets are all part of what makes this month so enjoyable for me. For a lot of people, as the leaves fade and daylight dwindles, Halloween is the last best way of injecting a little life into the Autumn days between Summer and Winter.

Or, perhaps in this case, the better term might be…

Unlife.

2011-10-07

This comic features depictions of violence, gore, mild drug use, sexual references and occasional strong language.

James Falick was just an average young man, living his life as anyone else might. He had a loving family and a girlfriend who he was deeply in love with.

And then he died…

Sort of.

Now James has to deal with all the pains and stigmas that come with being a zombie Living Impaired person in a society that fears and judges him, all the while struggling with his own condition, his self-perceptions, and the affect they have on his loved ones.

2012-04-26-Unlife0057Unlife is the creation of artist Zack Turner and writer Josh Breidbart. Turner’s art begins somewhat differently from what it’s become over time, but even since the first page, the art has maintained a certain standard; it’s expressive, clean when it needs to be, messy when it likes to; a few characters might get confused for each other, but all are generally well-designed (I like James’ big eyebrows… what can I say, I just like those in a character). The backgrounds can be a bit disordered, but the strength lies in the character artwork. All around, the art is an excellent compliment to a cast of characters who are all at once funny, complex, and touchingly human. Turner manages to make the undead look alive, while still visually reminding us how much it physically sucks to be a living cadaver.

This could’ve easily become, or started off as just another typical zombie series, with people banding together to survive the Apocalypse. But it didn’t and I respect it for that. Instead of the endless hordes of the undead sweeping across the globe to feast on the flesh of the living, we’re shown that the “Apocalypse” was (so far) really just a small event that people have simply begun living around… y’know, as people are wont to do. The freshness of the story, for me at least, comes from being shown how the undead characters are, for the most part, still themselves, and how they and they’re loved ones have to cope with such a radical change in… well, in lifestyle.

2012-02-02-Unlife0035James is a typical twenty-something; he has his loving girlfriend Stacey, his stoic father, his concerned mother, his lovable but pesky little sister Jenners (and Radar), and his undead best friend Bacon. Becoming a zombie Organically Challenged hasn’t changed that (except for Bacon; he came after). What it’s done is changed the way everyone sees him… even his loved ones, to some extent. I like that. I like the simple yet complicated idea that a person can love another, but still be frightened or disgusted by them. Stacey still hangs out with James, still cares for him, even (she claims) still loves him, but she feels guilt over being unable to be close to him. James’ mother loves her son deeply, but can’t help being afraid that he might go feral any minute. Despite her fears, she’s still his mom; she’s afraid for her son much more than she is of him. When things start going down, she rallies with her family to fight some of society’s injustices against the Living Impaired. All this character depth and complex motivation – and these are just side characters. Important ones, but you get my point.

Zombies series tend to have a somewhat political, or at least satirical bent to them. In this case, one could argue the case for zombies equaling corporate drudgeons. There’s a suspiciously secretive organization that seems to want to exploit employ zombies Undead and zombie Undead perceptions for their own means, whatever they might be. While the plot is still developing, the people behind this company (one of whom I swear is supposed to be Oprah) are apparently the antagonists for the story. What exactly their plan is – if they even have a plan – and whether they’ll succeed in it is just something we’re gonna have to wait and see.

Expressive character designs, great artwork, and an enthralling story full of characters with varied personalities keeps this series from being just another run-o’the-mill zombie comic. It’s deep, it’s funny, it’s a little political, and it’s an excellent reminder that sometimes you just gotta take life one day at a time. Even when your dead.

2012-01-26-Unlife0033

Unlife, including all the images used here, belongs to Zack Turner and Josh Breidbart.

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About Bedlam

Reviews webcomics regularly because he's a little bit insane. View all posts by Bedlam

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