The morning sun peeks out from behind grey clouds as lifeless bodies shuffle into a dimly lit building in Virginia. They bump into one another. They grunt and moan. They crave only one thing: the taste of freshly ground coffee. Although people sure seem like it in the mornings, there are no zombies in this coffee shop. At least not physically.
Two writers have a table to themselves, going over storyline ideas listed out on a cellphone while cycling through internet tabs of military history. Joshua Rader and Brandon Macready have kept this routine during the creation of their graphic novel, Z-Day.
“I have always wanted to write stories but knowing Josh has inspired me to actually start doing it,” explained co-author, Brandon Macready. “I keep a list of ideas that I want to write about in my phone. On our first meeting I read the list to Josh and one of the ideas really stood out because he had an idea to write a story along the same lines. So we started meeting on a weekly basis and after a while inspiration struck us and it was like we couldn’t stop. The story really began to write itself.”
Z Day is a about a team of Marines deployed into a zombie infested Nagasaki, mere hours before the ‘Fat man’ bomb was dropped. The story follows them as they look for the origin of this biological weapon.
“The Idea for Z-Day came about through hard work and cohesive team meetings between Josh and I,” said Brandon. “Together we spent many hours with bad ideas, and trying to make them better. Eventually, we started working with the idea of Zombies during WWII.”
“In one of [my college creative writing] classes I started outlining a small story idea about an American soldier somehow stuck in Japan during WWII.” remembered co-author Josh Rader. “ The idea was he would be fighting off monsters created by the nuclear bombs. I shared this idea with Brandon and we just started throwing ideas back and forth and the story just kept growing and growing.”
Josh has a degree in history and he put it to use in the writing process. “It was important to me that we stayed as realistic as possible…for a zombie story.” Josh laughs. “ I’m sure including era specific weapons and vehicles made it more challenging on our artist. The story uses zombies as a main device but ultimately I think it becomes a good horror/war story that in small ways even comments on American Imperialism. Our story is historical fiction. We are telling a war story just as much as we are telling a zombie story.”
Artist, Jason White joins Josh and Brandon at the table. Somewhere in between his day job and night classes, Jason finds time to work on Z Day. Jason, a graphic designers and 3-D modeler, shoulders the illustration, coloring and lettering of the graphic novel, as well as all the conceptual art. “Jason’s aesthetic just seemed like a perfect fit,” said Josh.
Jason’s style is unique and captures the spirit of the story’s setting. “ I am a huge fan of cal- ligraphy art and watercolors, I use a loose style to create the overall mood of Z-Day.” He says. “My influence mainly comes from Japanese brush paintings and Eastern art.” A fitting aesthetic choice for a story grounded in Japan.
This small group of creators come from various field of eduction.. Josh got his degree in history, Brandon got his in business management, and Jason has an art degree and a 4th degree black belt in martial arts. Their creativity is something they all share however. “My love for comics has been since childhood, I knew then that I wanted to draw comics for the rest of my life, “ said Jason.
Z-Day is the first published comic book from the three. Josh has,written a children’s book titled, You Can’t Teach a Dinosaur! Both writers look to horror-author Stephen King as an influence. “I think the horror elements from [Edgar Allen] Poe and [Stephen] King and my History background can both be seen in Z-Day,” said Josh.
The book is edited by Anthony Mathenia. “Stache seems like a good fit for us. We’re a team that’s new to making comics and even just working together,” explains Josh. “Anthony has been very helpful at answering any of our questions and just generally walking us through the process. Stache seems like a place that will help us grow our book without getting lost in the shuffle.”
Z Day aims to rise from the grave in a culture and comic scene that is highly saturated with zombie themes and to bury other zombie stories with it’s historically accurate setting. “With every generation there are new stories of vampires, werewolves and undead, but overall it is always good vs. bad. This story merges fantasy with real world events and puts a twist on them.” Josh promises. “I think that monsters are really timeless.”
Z-Day will be available as a trade paperback, graphic novel in October. For a hardcover exclusive with bonus content is available during the month of August at Kickstarter.