It’s been an experimental week here at the Zombie Ranch. Some of you might know that Dawn goes live on Ustream from time to time, usually when she’s coloring the next page of the comic, and she’ll chat with whoever happens to drop by to watch.

Well, this past weekend she roped me into joining her since she’s having visions of turning the sessions into a bit of a Podcast. After much technical difficulty we finally got the recording underway and jawed for about half an hour. We have some discussions on the nature of the zombie genre, and some of the inspirations and concepts involved in Zombie Ranch. Dawn has since gussied it up with some music and graphics, and it came out fairly decent if I do say so myself. Check it out here if you’re interested, and let us know if you like! (Warning: there are some mild spoilers about the setting)

Another piece I’ve put up is our very own Zombie Ranch Cast o’ Characters page. I intend to add to it as new characters are introduced. I may even be changing existing entries as new developments occur. Dawn will hopefully find the time to make it “purtier” at some point, with portraits for everyone. In the meantime, enjoy finding out things like what Frank’s last name is, as well as some more hints of the setting.

Speaking of which, I’m actually at work right now on a FAQ for the Zombie Ranch setting. I’m not even sure if FAQ is the right term in this case, since the questions haven’t been asked frequently; however, I’m sure there’s people out there who are curious about certain things, such as where and when this tale is taking place, why there are floating robot cameras, and of course, why the heck zombies are being ranched. Originally I had just intended to let the answers come gradually with each new comic, but I recognize that a weekly schedule might mean that takes forever and a day. That said, I’m not planning to reveal everything–because honestly, not everything’s set in stone yet–and I’ll be tucking it away with a spoilers warning so that those of you wanting to just figure things out along the way can do so. But others who are curious will have something to browse and know we’re not entirely just making this stuff up as we go along.

As I mention in the podcast, The Searchers was the latest in my Western line-up. John Ford was just really drinking in the landscape for this movie; seriously, the locations should have had their own cast credits. But that’s not to say there wasn’t a good story to go with it. It’s funny, I used to think Unforgiven was the first really morally ambiguous Western… but although Unforgiven remains my favorite Western (and one of my favorite movies, period), I’ve gained an appreciation for how complicated some of these “oldies” are beneath a veneer of simplicity. For instance, Ethan, John Wayne’s character in The Searchers, acts like a total psychopath at times, and I didn’t get any sense that the movie is forcing you to think that’s okay. You get to make your own decisions on if he’s a hard man for a hard time, or just an a-hole, or somewhere in-between.

Also, the Searchers features possibly the most polite fistfight you’ll ever see that also has men rolling in the dust and biting each other. If that sounds ludicrous, it is; and yet, somehow it fits. It’s like one of those stories that’s just crazy enough to have actually happened. Or maybe something that could only happen in Texas.