I remember the very first part of Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide was a chapter devoted to establishing the physical rules of his version of the zombie. Here’s what the zombie virus (Solanum) does. Here’s how long, on average, it takes to incubate. Here’s what the motor skills of the zombies are like. On and on, and you know what? It’s fine and fascinating stuff, and further than that is pretty crucial to establish early on before the rest of the book seeks to give advice on how to deal with them.
Zombie Ranch, by comparison, might frustrate someone who wants to know all the ins and outs of its version of the zombie as soon as possible. We got some of the more important bits (and bites) established in Episodes 1 & 2, but for all the media interludes and occasional narration by Suzie or Chuck, it occurs to me that I still have my share of “biology notes” left so far unshared with the audience.
But this is a different kind of story, with different kinds of primary characters than the researchers and doctors that could hold forth in other zombie tales. As Chuck demonstrates in this week’s comic, he himself doesn’t feel it necessary to know everything there is to know about zombies so long as he knows what’s important for his purposes. He also brings up the disquieting implication that such knowledge might not be encouraged outside of the processing labs and a few specialists, meanwhile blathering about how he’s convinced zombies need a certain amount of sunlight.
Is he crazy? Maybe. This is actually the part I love most about not having started off revealing every last detail of how zombies work in our Weird New West — the reader speculation that occurs as a result. The picking up on certain hints, like the scene with the goat in Episode 3 leading to people figuring out zombies were incapable of climbing, without us ever needing to explicitly say that. Meanwhile I’d like to think that the story has continued to successfully progress based on the information known. It probably helps that I really do have those notes, but at the moment it seems more fun for everyone and better for the narrative to keep them coming in small installments rather than a big dump.