Arthur Suydam is the undisputed "zombie king" of the comic book universe. Although this writer, illustrator, and musician has worked on such iconic comic books as Heavy Metal, Batman, Conan, Tarzan, Predator, and Aliens, his infamy is due largely to the deliciously hellish covers he designs for the infinitely popular Marvel Zombies series. They changed the landscape of fanboy-dom forever -- to the point where DC, Image, and others put out their own zombie series.
Suydam is recognized for his integrity -- he rather work on his own and others indie projects than just sit back and rake in the dough from mainstream projects. We had the opportunity to ask him about jamming with Bruce Springsteen, his Miami-inspired zombie Scarface, and why people love zombies. He'll appear at the Wizard World Comic Con this weekend, along with Ernie Hudson, Scott Thompson, and Batman.
Although the concept of zombies has been around as long as dirt, it has
evolved. "The "living dead" concept is a blanket term for various films,
and other forms of media. The term refers to reanimated corpses that
prey on the living, more recently featured in comics and TV, the
concepts predominantly center on attempting to survive during the
outbreak and evolution of a zombie apocalypse seen in the films. Not
unlike some modern-day lawyers and doctors," laughs Suydam.
New Times: Why do you think people have a fascination with zombies?
Arthur Suydam: Zombies have been with us for as long as there has been man and recorded history. The beliefs in ghosts and revenants, dead who returned with their spirits or bodies, or most of them, from pre-Christian Europe and Egypt, including one son of Moses. The fun begins when one is faced with the repercussions including what to do to prevent the return of the dead and how to get rid of them when they do come back.
You are revered for your writing and for your covers. Are there any particular favorites?
The stories I create tend to be feel-good Americana fitting well into something like the Pixar universe. I never get tired of drawing anatomy -- zombies. I am fond [of] the Spiderman wedding, Secret Wars, [and] Zombie sunset covers, as well as the Savage Tales paintings which tend to be more romantic classicism. Generally speaking, whatever the latest cover is I am working on is my favorite - until a new one comes along.
Courtesy Arthur Suydam
What's the biggest difficulty you've ever had to overcome in your career?
Well, to begin with, I would make that plural. There are always hurdles along the way, fires to put out. That's just life. In the arts, whether it be music or dance, literature, illustration or whatever, the hurdles seem to be a bit higher and come a bit more frequently (l).
Is there a specific character that you love working on?
There are a series of creator owned intellectual properties I have been working for a number of years, including Bedtime Stories for the Incarcerated, Giants, Mouse in the House, Fireflies and the Cholly & Flytrap series, which has just been released in trade paperback through Radical Publishing.
Tell us about your band.
You mean my Cajun/Zydeco band that has been working with Springsteen on various projects. Yeah, that band won the Grammy for best album of the year, and did 3 albums with Bruce.
We know you do some work in the crime/noir area, such as designing the cover for Mickey Spillane's Dead Street. Do you have a favorite film or novel noir?
Yeah, that was a real honor, doing Mickey Spillane's last book just before he passed away. I grew up on his stuff and usually have the noir film on in the background while I'm working. I believe they help on how best to tell a story and to define characters.
Is there any project you've worked on that you regret or weren't satisfied with the final product?
We are in charge of our own actions. I always try to do my best. The rest is in the hands of fate and circumstance and the editors (l). There is an old saying, you can have good, you can have it cheap, or you can have it fast --pick two.
Are you looking forward to visiting Miami?
I've been coming to Florida for years and love Florida, the same way I love France (laughs). I just finished a zombified Scarface tribute for the Wizardworld Miami show.
Say hello to my little dead friend...
Courtesy Arthur Suydam
Arthur Suydam is appearing at Comic Con at the Miami Airport Convention Center (711 NW 72 Ave., Miami). Get your geek on, Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tickets cost $25 to $200. Visit wizardworld.com.