The meat of the matter…
There’s horror, and then there’s horror. Sometimes it’s the little things that bring the apocalypse home, as Douglas Adams knew when he wrote in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy about Arthur Dent trying to wrap his brain around the destruction of the entire Earth:
England no longer existed. He’d got that — somehow he’d got it. He tried again. America, he thought, has gone. He couldn’t grasp it. He decided to start smaller again. New York has gone. No reaction. He’d never seriously believed it existed anyway. The dollar, he thought, had sunk for ever. Slight tremor there. Every Bogart movie has been wiped, he said to himself, and that gave him a nasty knock. McDonalds, he thought. There is no longer any such thing as a McDonald’s hamburger. Arthur passed out. When he came round a second later he found he was sobbing for his mother.
Comical? Yes. But also a recognition that horror and loss can be as subjective in their own way as art. Shortly after starting this comic, I posted a blog detailing some previous concepts of zombie ranching I had run across, like the game Zombie Rancher, and I mentioned how their idea of people eating the zombies as a delicacy made me look elsewhere for wrangling motivation. While there’s a fantastic dose of irony in the idea of people consuming zombies, out of respect for those who came before I chose from the beginning to move in a different direction, subverting the assumption that the “greenies” were being gathered for food. Admittedly I may have been too subtle about it, since at least one review of the comic proclaimed they were being gathered for food, and I remember on our first convention outing that Dawn was repeatedly stating to passerby “No meat like aged meat!” until I had to ‘splain to her that might give people the wrong idea (writers are such a buzzkill for artists).
I’ve already said as much in my World FAQ a long time ago, but with this week’s comic, here it is at last out in the open. Zombies, whether they were once people, cattle, or prairie dogs, taste like utter crap… and the more I thought about that second part, the more I realized I’d created a rancher’s worst nightmare.
Hell, it even kind of gives me the willies. Dawn and I both like our steak, and the idea that the last one I had might suddenly end up being the last one I ever had? Oh, sure, it wouldn’t kill me to go without, and for you vegetarians out there you’d give a collective shrug, at best, but that’s when we get back to the subjective horror thing, and you think about the impact on people whose livelihood for as long as they can remember has revolved around cattle. Not just them, but generations before them. That’s pretty damn personal. That’s the kind of thing that might have you sobbing for your mother.
So yeah, civilization as we knew it went to hell, people died, people didn’t stay dead, and humanity pulled through only after some very, very bad years. But the crashing realization of a Texas without beef? Submitted for your approval, that for one Chuck W. Zane, that was horror, indeed.