Hey, friends! Just a couple of days ago I gave you the heads up on Scott Serkland’s Kickstarter Project, a three issue comic book series entitled Young and the Dead: No Zombies Allowed. A different take on your typical zombie apocalypse with an added twist that the heroes are a group of school children and it takes place in the 80s.
The man behind it all, Scott Serkland, was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule so we might have a quick interview.
Vic Sage: Scott, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions about your comic series Young and the Dead: No Zombies Allowed. Why not give us a little background info on yourself and how you decided to form the Serkworks Art Labs?
Scott Serkland: Sure. I’ve been working as an illustrator and graphic designer for about 20 years. I’ve worked in advertising, children’s entertainment, the gaming industry, and have been fortunate to have worked on some really cool stuff, but it’s funny when you’re young you tend to have these grandiose dreams that you are going to take over the world with your art. In pondering this I thought to myself, what if I had actually got close to taking over the world? What would that be like? That was the impetus of Serkworks Art Labs: a sort of melding of art and mad science where I could create artwork and products that other aspiring evil geniuses could use in their own quest for world domination. I’ve designed inspirational prints, mad science starter kits, apparel, games, and comics, all with a geeky mad scientist vibe. Our slogan is robots, aliens, zombies, and other imminent threats to humanity. Because any evil underground laboratory worth its salt would meddle in that type of technology.
VS: In your e-mails and even on the Kickstarter for the comic you have mentioned this is very much a passion project for you. How long has the idea for the Young and the Dead been percolating in your head?
SS: I have always had a passion for drawing comics, and had dozens of failed attempts and actually finishing a comic book before Young and the Dead. A while back I was going to a mini comics group where everyone would put together a small eight page comic book story, and after a six month period everyone in the group would send their comics to the other members so in the end, you end up receiving all these cool mini comics. Knowing that people were expecting to receive my book and that I needed to finish it if I wanted to get a bunch of cool comics gave me the push I needed to complete the project, and then some… I figured I would do a zombie story because it would be easy to tell in eight pages, but as I started to write the book, I began to get invested in the characters and their plight. The book ended up being a full 22 pages and the story is still ongoing. Because comics take so long to produce, and in general you don’t earn enough to live off of them, Young and the Dead has had to remain a side project and it’s taken me about five years to release three issues. But if the Kickstarter is successful enough, I plan to dedicate more of my time to getting the rest of the series out in a more timely fashion.
VS: From my time with your book I can say I love that you’ve chosen to set the series in the 1980s as well as pepper many of the panels with items I still think of fondly…like the Shogun Warriors, Pitfall on the Atari 2600, and even classic posters on the walls like Ghostbusters and Jaws to name a few. Why did you decide to have the Zombie Apocalypse take place in the past instead of present day?
SS: At first I struggled with that because if you lived though the 80’s, you know there was never a zombie apocalypse. But they say to write what you know and I wanted to do a book about kids fighting zombies, but I didn’t feel I could write a convincing depiction of modern teens and pre-teens the way I could with kids in the 80’s. I grew up in the 80’s, and in writing the story I just have to ask myself how would my friends and I react if we were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse? In addition, I wanted to capture the spirit of the kid adventure movies of the 80’s like The Goonies, Explorers, and Monster Squad, so in the end setting the story in the 80’s was the only way to go.
VS: Unlike…well…any of the zombie comics I am familiar with you have chosen to have the heroes of the Young and the Dead be a mixture of teen and pre-teens, which has a definite throwback feel to those classic movies like Explorers, The Goonies, and of course The Monster Squad. In your series though you have definitely not shied away from the horror aspects of what a zombie uprising would entail…have you had to censor yourself a little in that regard? Did you at one point think it needed to be a “darker”?
SS: Absolutely. There is a definite line that I drew for myself for how far I’m willing to go with the violence. You will never see a zombie biting or ripping apart a human character. If that happens, it is off screen (or off panel). These are not your typical zombies. Their blood turns a soupy green, so the book is not particularly bloody. (Granted, most of the book is in black and white.) They have certain rejuvenating aspects which will be revisited more as the story progresses. Because of this, they can’t necessarily be killed, only disabled by blunt force trama to the head, which means fire arms aren’t very effective, so you won’t see the kids using guns. The only real way the stop them for good is to find a cure, and time is running out. Once that happens, it’s game over. With all this in mind, I still want the book to be horrific, and I think the depictions of the zombies can attest to that. If you look at Monster Squad, the monsters are genuinely frighting and probably some of the best on screen depictions of Dracula, The Mummy, The Gill-man, etc., in my opinion. I want Young and the Dead to have that level of horror and still be a story for all ages.
VS: I do have a question and feel free to plead the fifth but since our heroes are in such a terrible situation is there the possibility that not all of them will make it out alive?
SS: Anything’s possible.
VS: At the time of this interview your Kickstarter has been quite successful. Are you planning on continuing the Young and the Dead series beyond three issues? Perhaps we might see a board game version of the comic?
SS: Without a doubt. Issue three ends with another cliff hanger, and there is still more story to tell. I see issue three as the halfway point in the story and there are big things to come. As far as a board game, I haven’t considered that, but that would be fun do do if there is a market for it. I am trying to develop a card game out of another property I have, a mix and match monster trading card series, so I’m all for making games. We’ll have to see where Young and the Dead goes from here. Kickstarter has brought some attention to the comic and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the project.
I want to thank Scott for once again so graciously agreeing to answer my questions. Remember that the Young and the Dead: No Zombies Allowed Kickstarter is still going strong so make sure to hop on over there and pledge your support!