With the news (LONG AWAITED NEWS!!! YEARS!!!) that volume 4 is finally coming our way, the fans of the work of Arthur du Pins can finally put their minds at ease: the cliffhanger will end! We will know what happens with the park, and what´s up with our favourite, sassiest witch, Gretchen and the poor man who is Aurelien. And the others of course. However, it has recently come to my attention – mostly due to my super hype and the lack of response back – that, apparently, this is not so well-known and received in the comic sphere as I thought it would. Which is bizarre (IMO) considering that the author has just projected the animated adaptation of the entire thing at Cannes just last year, and the new comic coming back, you´d think we´d be on it…But apparently not. Apparently, for some strange reason I do not fully comprehend, the BD market in the UK is rather non-existent, even for something that came as a direct commission from the director of Spirou. That is, btw, how this all started. Arthur du Pins was given this job for a Halloween special edition for the magazine. But the thing became so popular, by 2010 the first volume was already out under the publisher Dib>buks.
So, why do I care so much about this? This BD came right as the recession of the late 2000s hit us, and the themes resonated with me at a very personal level. For starters, who doesn´t want to read a comic about a Halloween-like theme park, where the monsters are for realsies?! Well, that is what you get in Zombillenium. Understand that to a teen Goth, obsessed with roleplaying games, this was the dream: monster and magic. Awesome. It wasn´t just the imagery, though, but the obvious message that attracted me as I started reading: the outsiders, the left overs of society, the people who live in the fringe that are freaks for your entertainment in a circus. That was, and still is, a very real issue in our modern societies – and this is something you have heard me talking about a different comic for similar and different reasons: Rat Queens, and you can find my update here:
So, with a witch who is yours truly a powerful caster, a demon, and the zombies of the Thriller dance attraction, you had so many cultural references that for anyone within that geek sphere should be if, nothing else, relatable. So what does this have to the recession? Well, you see, the real discourse of the comic has to do with the running of the park. Issues such as land value, profit and monetary turn over, employability, labour conditions; these are the things that with a nice edgy look Arthur du Pins really prods at quite fiercely in these volumes. One of the main issues that are addressed and that become a key plot focus was the fact that a new policy is passed, thanks to a new consultant that is sent to ensure the business carries through and is profitable, that will change things for everyone. As our journey begins we find out that now the monsters – the employees of the very park – are allowed to kill visitors whilst on the premises of the business, therefore creating here an opportunity for new employees…
Not only this causes conflict amongst the employees as many of them think this obscene and not something they agree with. But as a result, the other underlying issues start cropping up. These are people who are enslaved in this job! They can´t leave. They have no choice but to stay there as the social detritus that they are believed to be. Whilst the visitors reflect the very extreme of consumerist society that took us to this hideous state to begin with…to the point that it turns against them and threatens their own lives. The seriousness of the topics however, should not be glanced over by the incredibly superb and sarcastic humour that comes through the entire series. In fact, in recent interview with the author, he advises that it is the use of such abrupt and unapologetic comedy that allows him to address such a dramatic and tragic material in a way that is approachable and relatable to the reader, therefore impactful.
So, what I am trying to say here is that, Zombillenium is about us: it´s about people. The people who, because of age or social background, are currently fighting between the ropes of tough life and struggling to get a job, even a bad one with exploiting conditions such as those of the park, and who can do little to improve their own situation. But it also tells us that impossible is nothing, and despite the hardships and injustice of management (or governments) there is only so much people will take. And people, when squeezed, even monsters, will react, and stand up for themselves, bringing changes. And it won´t matter whether you are witch, zombie, werewolf or demon, there is a place in this world, in this society, in this market place for you, and not because you are such a thing you deserve a miserable work place and social treatment, nor do you have to put up with that crap. And that; that is something worth reading and waiting 5+ years for.
To all of you waiting for something new, fresh, and with beautiful, colorful and very modern art work, go back to the roots of comics and dedicate a few pennies and moments to the monsters. After all, ladies and gentlement, the Monsters are nothing but Us. And at the end of the day, We are all People. And We Have Rights…and deserve a common decency for living, not struggle, just like those in Upper Management. And We Will Fight, because even the Zombies break at some point.