Hipster Zombies

One thing that semi-amuses and semi-irritates me is the attitude of ‘Everything new is bad’.

Zombies are so mainstream now. Zombies are so pop culture now. I only liked them when they were scary. I only liked them when the films were made by Indies.

And so on! I do exclude from this general dislikes: aka disliking running zombies, because really, there’s no way we’d outfight that. We’d be gone and done for. With slow zombies, we have a chance. Anyway, that doesn’t mean you hate all new films.

The basic argument is “Have you seen all these new zombie films that you say you definitely hate them ALL? Really?”. But more than that, zombies are now in the hands of authors and screenwriters. They are bloody creative beings and that’s why we love them and have our favourites (Neil Gaiman writing for Dr Who? Hells yeah I’m watching that episode!). You can’t dictate to others how they SHOULD be doing things.

Imagine what it was like when America started taking up the zombie idea, but from the perspective of those who believed in it for real. Or imagine growing up in the 30s and 40s and all those great zombie films and then watching Romero. What the hell are these things?! “These aren’t zombies”. That’s because they have changed – and the world and humans and culture tend to do that.

You don’t have to slap “Twilight rip-off” on every single zombie romance (and I will kill you in the apocalypse for doing that). But zombies don’t think, you say! Well, we all worship at the altar of Romero (all zombie fans run back to Grandfather when they want justification), and zombies do have a growing consciousness particularly in Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead.

So why am I blabbering on about this? Because of a fantastic French movie I can’t bloody find anywhere to buy, and it’s re-make into a tv series, Les Revenants. And I want it, regardless of the hipster zombies on the comments. The storyline looks incredible!

There’s an article here at the Telegraph and one here at Den of Geek talking about the series coming to the UK, and man, I am so jelly right now. It’s super unlikely it’ll ever come to Australia, so I’ll have to wait till it comes out on DVD/Bluray.

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The Imprint Rant (TM)

So anyone who already follows me on Twitter will have heard this rant before, or my third year tutor read the essay I wrote, but I thought I’d post it here with the TL;DR version (still may be too long).

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An imprint is like an individual brand within a larger company, allowing the company to diversify its product range and target specific markets with niche branding.

In the 1950’s the Australian market was extremely limited, with most books being imported – particularly from British houses. As the industry grew here, branches of those international companies were established here, and started taking over the smaller Australian companies who were struggling to compete. From the 1970s, with the Whitlam governments arts initiatives and more financial support helped the publishers to ‘meet the needs of Australian’s’. Throughout the 80s and 90s, lists were vastly expanded with Australian authors and content.

The majority of imprints are international companies who have absorbed smaller companies and kept their names going. The smaller companies are rarely closed down completely with the larger company taking on the reproduction of the titles and authors. Another way for an imprint to be created is for a new imprint created for a new change in direction. Publishing houses may also ‘honour’ one of their publishers with their own imprint.

There is a lot of criticism of imprints and what they accomplish, as many will argue that readers only care for the author’s brand. Some say the use of imprints diminishes the overall company’s brand. Some argue that imprints make sense – to the publisher and the bookseller only.

So where’s my rant?

I find imprints to be useful, to an extent. The most talked about imprints are the ones that are defining and targeted. Voyager is HarperCollins global speculative fiction imprint, and for years operated a successful (in terms of interaction) Australian fan forum affectionately known as ‘The Purple Zone’. Momentum is a relatively new imprint from Macmillan which is the first (I believe – feel free to correct me) Australian digital imprint. While it has a range of books from autobiography to thriller to erotica zompocalypses, its name is well known and maintained.

Flesh by Kylie Scott, a Momentum Title. Yes, the erotica in the zompocalypse one!

We get lost in imprints when there’s no distinguishing marks. From my random discussions with people in the industry on Twitter, whether reviewers, booksellers, editors, we do seem to agree that distinct identity is important. As much as I love a lot of their books, what difference is there between Orbit and Gollancz? Both are under Hachette, both focus on speculative fiction – a range of fantasy, horror, urban paranormal, sci fi. There’s issues with publisher’s perspective versus readers, where publishers will identify a book with a certain genre and imprint, but readers consider it a different genre. Due to the difference, it may not be picked up by certain specialist bookstores where readers would expect to find it. Another example is how children’s books are being taken into traditionally ‘adult’ imprints.

The sub-branding of sub-brands within a brand often gets lost in confusion and if there is any message or meaning to an imprint anymore, it becomes too messy for any consumer to attempt to unravel. It is rare that an imprint can stand out and be noticed. The connection between publisher and reader is more often seen as through a reader’s loyalty to a particular author, not the imprint to which the publisher places them.

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Further Reading

Warm Bodies

I have to make a stance on people whining about how this movie will be a “Twilight with zombies”. Clearly they’ve never read the book!

Isaac Marion brings to life a rich world with deep meaning with Warm Bodies.

Zombie romance is really not new, and it’s very much opposite vampire romance. Zombie romance looks for love in the weirdest place imaginable – there aren’t many zombies you can sympathise with when they want your flesh/brains.

But zombie romance like I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It and Generation Dead (series) and Warm Bodies are some of the most intelligent paranormal romances I’ve ever read (and I’m not a big fan of the subgenre by any means). They delve into what’s important, they look to respect others, to equality, and the limit of humans to accept what is different. It’s been the same throughout zombie literature for decades – society couldn’t accept a Frankenstein’s monster any more than they could accept people of coloured skin (race is very big in zombie literature, particularly in early zomlit. See ‘White Zombie’ with Bela Lugosi, as one example.) When it comes to zombies, it’s every man for himself and he forgets society and community to save himself above all others, which makes for a lot of jerks!

One of the biggest thing in zomlit isn’t about the zombies at all, but about humans and how willing people are to give up kindness, respect, and those emotions that make us human. Zombies should be the great equaliser of man, when we all come together to survive, but our petty politics and infighting doom us all.

I was a bit weirded out in the beginning of Warm Bodies, even for all my zombie loving, but the story challenges you and changes you.

Need more convincing? Go check out some reviews at Fangtastic.

If you see any of these covers, go buy it! (The first is the audio version)