Killing zombies. It has made a lot of people a lot of money.
From authors to movie studios to television series to comic books.
Zombies have been around for decades but the recent downturn in the economy drove them back to the fore again, placed at the front of our collective fears. Hollywood has produced movies like Zombieland and the forthcoming World War Z. The Walking Dead on AMC is one of the most watched television series—and its comic book series is approaching #100 issues. Authors like Max Brooks, Joe Schreiber, Stephen King, Robert Kirkman, H.P. Lovecraft, and Colson Whitehead have written novels on the subject, keeping people awake at night.
But I saw something odd a few days ago on Facebook. I try to keep an eye on what many professionals are doing in their respective spheres of influence, and that includes editors. The post in question was by an editor—who, yes, shall remain nameless. In it, he said in paraphrase:
“I am sitting here, late at night, making my way through the slush pile. And if I come across another zombie novel, I am going to lose it.”
This surprised me but I understand. All things are cyclical in the book industry and the recent boom in zombie fiction and entertainment will subside and give way to something else. I am surprised because I didn’t think an editor would say such things so soon. The zombie phenomenon appears to be going strong. It’s only been going a few years now, leaving what I perceive to be a great deal more undead fans wanting more.
Are there some forms of entertainment that excel at zombie stories? Is writing a unique zombie story difficult? Do readers have an attention span deficiency when it comes to books but not visual media? Is it hard to creatively separate oneself from others who are attempting to write novels in the same genre? Or is there a deeper reason for the editor’s distress?
I don’t have the answer. I’ve never been particularly fond of zombies in the first place. While I enjoyed the first season of The Walking Dead on AMC—enjoyed, but didn’t love like everyone else—the rest of the genre is just boring to me.
Maybe this editor doesn’t like zombies either?
What do you think about the editor’s comments? Are you tired of zombies? Are they truly in their brain-shot death knell? Or do you believe the more the merrier? Let them shamble and eat flesh forever?