Zombie World: Champion of the Worms #3

 

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Comic book, 1997
 

There are three Pat McEwons known to us, and they’ve appeared in this order. Work for hire Pat McEwon, who, early in his career, turned out many issues of work for creative interests other than his own. Then came Pat McEwon the auteur, who released a few inventive short stories from anthologies such as Dark Horse Presents and Dave Cooper’s Weasel. Then came milk carton Pat McEwon, who’s been largely absent from the comics scene for years, apart from one short story (for the Madman 20th anniversary book) and one graphic novel (Hair Shirt). Zombie World: Champion of Worms #3 (the only issue of the series I’ve read) occurs at a bridge between work for hire McEwon and auteur McEwon, being a work he created for someone else while still possessing many of the hallmarks of his auteur work. In it he’s paired with an early instance of Mike Mignola as a writer only, and the result is a Hammer horror tinged take on Tintin. It’s a good match, but not a perfect one- McEwon’s layouts and characers pack the appropriate amount of whimsy, but his ghouls are too cartoony to be truly menacing. As for Mignola’s side of things, this is writer-only Mignola pre-John Arcudi, so seemingly all consideration is given to plot, with none apparently given to characters. But if you’be got a kid edging up on feeling too old for Tintin and might respond to something a little darker, I imagine this would work like a charm.

 
 
Super Inside Baseball, How The Sausage Is Made Bonus Round: Zombie World appears to be an attempt on the part of a comics company (Dark Horse) to create a franchise while sharing the rights with the hired talent (Mignola and McEwon), and the indicia is fittingly tangled, giving copyright for the text and illustrations to the creators and the publisher, the title trademarked to the publisher, the characters trademarked to the creators, and so on. It seems like Dark Horse planned for the series to continue without its original creators. From the editor in this issue’s letters page: “Thanks to Pat McEwon and Mike Mignola for getting this series off to such and interesting start. The books in coming months, from a lineup diverse enough to include…” continuing into a list of future contributors, many if not all of whch I believe were actually released. I’d be curious to check the indicia of future issues for McEwon and Mignola’s names. Interesting, and I assume an experiment on the part of the publisher in creating a franchise while keeping the creators properly in the loop. If this is true, their hearts were certainly in the right place. But, to go out even further on a limb, I’d guess that the franchise, concept and all, was publisher mandated. (“Make us a world of zombies, we’ll call it Zombie World!”) Catching lightning in a bottle can be tough, but you couldn’t hire two better creators to attempt it with.