SDCC ’13 Recap: ‘Max Brooks: Zombie Survival and Extinction Parade Insights’ Panel

By July 20, 2013

Max Brooks (author of “The Zombie Survival Guide,” “World War Z,” and “Extinction Parade”) has a captive audience, and he’s going to make the most of it.

Never mind the fact that most of the audience admits to being there to see ‘Orphan Black.’ He’s been there before; once, at a GI Joe panel, a man right up front yawned through his speech. But before the hour is through, he’ll make us all care about zombies.

He’s a dynamic speaker, fearless and expressive. “I’m thrilled that Zombieland ripped me off,” he says, “Because my book went to the top of the best seller list. Come on, Zombieland 2!”

He won’t complain if World War Z, the movie, is completely different from his book. After all, he made the conscious decision to sell the rights to it. “You can’t shake hands with the devil and then be like, that’s the devil!”

Still, he isn’t afraid to fight for creative control of the things he hasn’t signed away. He refused to let the publisher of World War Z stick the movie cover on the book…mainly because the main character of the movie isn’t in the book. It would be false advertising, and he doesn’t want fans looking for the continued story of Gerry Lane.

He also refused to sign with a couple of publishers in China after they demanded that he change China to a fictional country in his book. He chuckles at the irony; his book critiques the Chinese government’s habit of censoring its people…and the Chinese publishers wanted to censor the very name of their country in his book!

Brooks prefers slow zombies to fast zombies, for although fast zombies are “more cinematic,” slow zombies are scarier. There’s an element of anticipation that is lost when they move at warp speed; with a long, lingering approach, they force the viewer to imagine their own death. It’s the “difference between getting shot and getting cancer,” he claims.

His new story, “Extinction Parade,” takes a look at how vampires might deal with a zombie apocalypse. “I don’t see vampires as sexy and sparkly. I see the Kardashians.” Though he relents and admits that Kim Kardashian does work, the point stands. His vampires are the aristocracy – a group that has no need to work for its survival, unlike humans. Humans, he says, are more likely to survive a zombie apocalypse; after all, fighting tooth and nail for our continuation as a species has been humanity’s modus operandi for thousands of years.

So, what would happen if a zombie outbreak occurred right now? “I think Obama would get up, make a genuine, impassioned speech from his heart [about making sacrifice and gathering together as a community to beat it back], and then everyone would be like, ‘You’re a socialist Kenyan!'”

Basically, we’re all doomed.