Jeff Hughes is the owner of the Dallas/Ft. Worth based independent comic book publishing company Comic Book Divas. In two weeks, he'll be a guest of our fair city at the Comicpalooza convention. There, he will debut his latest book, Goldilocks in Zombie Land.
Ah, zombies. We'd say they're too mainstream these days, but until Live Free or Twi Hard Part 2 is safely out of the theaters and done ruining vampires and werewolves forever, they may be a horror fan's only hope. We've already seen them dropped into the Marvel universe, Jane Austen's world, and pretty much anywhere and everywhere that a little rotting flesh and cannibalism could punch up a story.
What Hughes has done with Goldilocks in Zombie Land is fairly similar. Goldilocks and her band of zombie hunting friends Bo Peep, The Woodsman, and Jack From The Bean Stalk fight, hack, slash, and shoot their way through a horde of fairy tale zombies in order to reach Castle Tower the last safe haven in StoryBook 2012 and the home of Queen Rapunzel.
Hughes' world keeps your familiar fantasy trappings such as horse drawn carriages, quaint houses and the like, but cars and modern weaponry are employed in Goldilocks' battle against the undead. The spread of the deadly reanimation virus is a direct result of the Three Blind Mice eating tainted cheese. They make like plague rats until StoryBook 2012 is under a full-on Brooks Level 3 pandemic.
Goldilocks seemed an odd choice to us as the head ghoul killer, but as Hughes points out, there is a lot more courage to her traditional tale than we'd ever considered.
"In the story, Goldilocks literally breaks in and enters a house eats the food, makes herself at home and even goes to sleep in a bed," said Hughes. "On top of all that, she does it in a house full of bears. That is pretty gutsy. Also the character has always seemed to be very determined and a leader."
Leader is right. Goldilocks heads a rag tag team in the war, all heavily and uniquely armed. Goldilocks herself prefers twin shotgun pistols. Bo Peep's crook turns into a razor sharp scythe, and Jacqueline Bean wields the old zombie standby of a chainsaw.
One of the more interesting aspects of Comic Book Divas is that they like to base the physical look of their characters on real life people. Goldilocks is based off of Texas model/actress Sarah French, who will be appearing in the upcoming werewolf film Hallow Pointe. She's joined by Hallow Pointe's screenwriter Joe Knetter, who is the basis for The Woodsman.
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Comparisons to the critically acclaimed Fables series by Bill Willingham are inevitable. Both deal with classic storybook characters acting in modern or unusual ways. However, a large part of Fables deals with fairytale folk living in hiding in the mundane world. Comic Book Divas' universe doesn't make that cross... yet.
"They do know about our world," said Hughes. "And that will lead to some pretty fun story lines that Comic Book Divas has planned down the road especially with WANTED: Red Riding; where Red Riding comes to our world to become a model by day and super-hero by night.
The characters in the book know the roles they play in that they are supposed to entertain children all over the world; they are much like actors putting on a play or being in a movie; when the book is open they go to work, but when the book is closed their real lives begin."
Goldilocks in Zombie Land is the latest in the long line of edgy fairy tales and zombie fighting, but Hughes and company have certainly upped the ante on he pile of bloody chips. It's clear that his vision is going to prove bloody, and bloody exciting. He'll definitely be our first stop at Comicpalooza.