Tell us a little about yourself and your creative background. What stories have inspired you? Who or what are some of your biggest comic book influences?

Well, to many of our listeners, readers, and fans, I am the editor-in-chief of Spoiler Magazine as well as the creator and founder of Spoiler and Comic Con Radio. It started with my podcast, called by the same name, Comic Con Radio, many years ago. Well over a decade ago. From there, as we got more listeners, more fans, and more followers, Comic Con Radio became one of the top podcasts and radio networks. Now we have close to 100 original podcasts and growing, as well as multiple live channels. Our network tagline is Taking over the world one listener at a time! In addition, Spoiler Magazine is a mainstay in the fandom world. We have produced over 40 covers with many more to come. Writing has been a passion for many years and, about seven years ago, I started creating and writing Almost Dead. This is the first of many comic book projects to come. My influences are Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Todd McFarlane, Will Eisner, Rob Liefeld, and Frank Miller, just to name a few of the greats.

Give us a rundown of “Almost Dead” and what the story means to you. Anything in particular you hope to convey or accomplish with this story?

Almost Dead is a story of triumph and the will to survive. It’s about family and new friends and overcoming obstacles. Most of all, it’s a very serious and realistic story. The story means a lot to me, because I always wanted to create an apocalyptic story that has antagonists, monster- like humans that are as realistic as possible. We studied diseases and different things that can happen to the human body, and we created monsters with actual human diseases in mind, with how the body decays in real life, because. the human body is resilient. If you remove the magical element of bones walking or the dead rising… That’s more magical. If you want it to be. more realistic, you need muscle to move. You need organs to survive. So, you’ll see some really cool stuff. Showing that, if those monsters are real, they’re still human, and it means a lot that I can show that in the story. Anything can happen, and we’ve all just been through a pandemic, so the possibilities can become real. So, as you read the story and you go through each comic book, just try to feel it and keep an open mind. Allow the world around you to become part of the story.

Are you a fan of the general zombie apocalypse genre? Horror? What are some of your influences in that direction and how does “Almost Dead” stand apart?

Big time. I love it. It’s phenomenal. I am an ultra-fan!! But I want our “zombies” or “monsters” to be as human-like as possible. They’re not totally dead. They’re almost dead.

I’m a big fan of the horror genre. It excites me to a point where I have to stand up to watch things, because I’m so excited from the adrenaline. George A. Romero and Zack Snyder are big influences. Greg Nicotero’s work is awesome, plus some current masters of the horror genre…. But I can’t name everyone, or the list would be very long. Now that we have our own series–and, as some people say, we’re reimagining the genre-we like to keep some influences a bit close to our hearts…for now!

Almost Dead stands apart because we’re changing it all up. They don’t have to be fully dead. Bones should not walk, and decade-old corpses should not attack. They can be almost dead. Like I said. before, you need muscles, and you need organs, and you need blood. You need everything the human body has in order to function. I’m excited for you all to enjoy the series. Remember one question: how do we know that history hasn’t been altered? Altered to hide the outbreaks throughout the ages? Makes ya think, right?!


Who’s your favorite character to write? Why?

My favorite character is Sara. She is a solid individual. She is compassionate, humane, intelligent, and a badass.

But, ultimately, all of the characters are wonderful. When I started creating the characters for Almost Dead, I put a lot of thought into it. I’ve seen these characters in my mind for many years, and there’s many great characters in the first season. Every time I create a character, I focus on their life and what lead them to that moment in our story. I use pictures of real people, and I put them in a collage, almost, and then I think about their hair and their eyes and their noses and their expressions. Then, I make that character come to life. I introduce myself to that character. Then, at that point, they become part of the story. If the character is not ready yet and hasn’t been introduced to me in a way that I feel fits the story, then I put them in the back lot. Of course, I’m gonna use them, but not at that moment. That’s the process of character creation and building for me. I spent over two years creating and developing the characters. Once I was ready to introduce Ryan Benjamin to the characters, I gave him every single image and bit of info that I’d put together pertaining to them: their characteristics, their life story, their clothing everything that you could possibly think of and then Ryan took all of that and spectacularly created that character within the story. Like he says: he sees with his hands, his hands are an extension of his mind. I always make sure to give him as much detail as possible, because it’s very important to me and I hope you all fall in love and connect with every one of characters.

Why did you choose 2005 as the time setting for “Almost Dead”?

I chose 2005 because it’s a period in time where smart phones-such asthe iPhone-haven’t taken over. Professionals used Blackberries back then, which had messaging and some apps, but it was very archaic compared to today’s iPhones and smart phone technology. We’re currently carrying a personal computer in our pocket with the world in our fingertips, but in 2005 it was a simpler time. YouTube had just launched in 2005, and, that summer, one of their videos received over 1 million views. That is nothing in today’s world. The Internet wasn’t as fast in most places, and in some cities and towns people still used dial-up or very low-level cable Internet. This really affects the use of technology.

I wanted to give the story a chance to go on without using too much modem- day technology, and introduced some things that we don’t use today as well as some that are part of our lives now. It’s the beginning stages of many amazing things that we don’t use anymore, so it’s a good timeline for me. I think the early 2000s to me is that time, when technology still hadn’t taken over our lives and people still went outside to enjoy the world. Yet some advances started to show up, it’s the beginning of what we use today. So, I thought it would be cool and fun to do that.


How did you become part of the “Almost Dead” team? Was there anything in particular about the project that drew (haha) you in?
A. I was approached-I think it was at San Diego Comic Con-about the project. At the time, I wasn’t sure I could do it, because, at any given time, I have a multitude of projects on my plate. I remember saying I’d have to think about it. Months later, after my schedule cleared, I said yes, I would do it.

Describe the process of creating the look of the characters. Is there any character that stands out as a favorite design-wise? Is anyone the most fun to draw thus far?

A. Part of making my decision to draw the book was the chance to draw zombies. Normally, I’m a messy artist and zombies are messy. When drawing, I like to stay loose and just let the pencil guide me to the character. So, when drawing zombies, I stay messy but have to clean it up a bit so the inker can read the lines.

Any commentary to offer about the look of the zombies in the story? Does that require interesting reference hunting and/or extra research?

A. Anything zombified is interesting to draw. I’m waiting to see if any zombie animals appear in the future scripts. Research is easy. In my head, I’m there already, so half the battle is done. From there, if I need it, I can find reference almost anywhere. Zombies have been done already so the challenge is how to make it interesting and appealing to audiences who love zombies


About the Author: Ethan Brehm

Ethan Brehm

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