5 Zombie Questions: Mike Carey

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 28 April 2015
Category: Features
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Mike Carey has had a prolific career in comics writing for the big publishers for long runs on some of their most successful and most critically acclaimed titles. He has also written a zombie-themed novel that is up for a major award, all of which makes him a perfect candidate, in the runup to Free Comic Book Day, to contemplate zombie humanity, the X-Men in a zombie universe, and the terror of non-human zombies.

British writer Mike Carey was one of the special guests at last year's Open Book Comics Festival in Cape Town due to his extensive catalogue of comics writing that reaches back decades and includes work for 2000 AD, DC/Vertigo, and Marvel, with particularly notable examples being the long-running The Sandman spin-off series Lucifer, 40 issues of Hellblazer, and long runs on X-Men and X-Men: Legacy, nevermind some Batman, Electra, and Fantastic Four titles (to name a few other examples).

It was a real treat to be able to listen to him speak about his comics career at the festival as we got to hear about some of the crazy projects he worked on when he was just starting out, as well as more about his collaborations with top artists and creators and what it's like working for the big international publishers, which each have a different culture and a way of dealing with their artists and writers. He was also really gracious in spending time with fans between talks and putting effort into signing their books and comics, which everyone really appreciated.

5 Zombie Questions: Mike Carey

Mike Carey has also authored numerous books, including 2014's The Girl With All The Gifts (as M.R. Carey), which was a brainwavez.org Gift Guide pick for 2014. He discussed the book in detail, in a zombie-themed talk for the main Open Book Festival programme, with local author SA Partridge. It's a different take on the zombie genre with an unusual protagonist and a far more realistic pathogen that's based on the real-life Ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungus, which infects an ant from a specific species, causes it to bite the underside of a leaf in a death grip, and then sprouts a sporing body from the ant's head to send itself further into the jungles of Brazil and Thailand. (So... not creepy at all.)

5 Zombie Questions
The Girl With All The Gifts has been well received internationally and was recently announced as one of the six shortlisted candidates for this year's Clarke Award, which Lauren Beukes won in 2011 for Zoo City. A movie based on the story is also in the works (it's a separate screenplay, also written by Mike Carey, that's written independently of the storyline of the novel so there are similarities but it's not quite the same story). It's scheduled for release in 2016 as She Who Brings Gifts and both Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close have been announced as cast members.

Therefore, with all this success swirling around The Girl With All The Gifts and zombies on everyone's brains (though not yet literally, we hope), it was time to ask Mike Carey five zombie questions as part of brainwavez.org's pre-Free Comic Book Day comics celebrations. He kindly obliged - with some great answers.

5 Zombie Questions: Mike Carey
Above: Fox & Raven Publishing's Marius du Plessis discusses speculative fiction with authors Dave de Burgh, Mike Carey, and Raymond E Feist at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September 2014.

Question 1: Bar a few zombie dogs in Resident Evil, for example, no one ever seems to write many stories featuring zombie animals even although we have the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungus in real life that affects ants quite horrifically and featured in your novel The Girl With All The Gifts. What do you think would be the coolest zombie animal - and why?

Mike Carey: This is sort of low-hanging fruit but who wouldn't love to see a zombie blue whale? The biggest undead on the whole planet. A creature so huge it would regularly consume hundreds of kilos of brains in a single bite! I know, I know, they've got baleen plates so they can only feed on krill. But zombie blue whales would be different.

5 Zombie Questions: Mike CareyQuestion 2: The zombie apocalypse happens (to humans). Which member of the X-Men is first to take advantage of the situation and how?

Mike Carey: I think Magneto would switch allegiance. He's all about species pride but he'd redefine his species as "mutant undead" and create a new Brotherhood of Slightly Mouldy Mutants. The X-Men would of course oppose him, sticking to the creed that all of us can live together if we cuddle each other and never say harsh things. Accordingly, they will all get their brains eaten. Even Wolverine, although his will grow back. Endlessly. In a twelve-part miniseries.

Question 3: There are interesting discussions all over the Internet as to whether Wolverine could be infected by a zombie. What's your take on the debate?

Mike Carey: It's going to depend on your preferred mode of infection, I suppose. If it's anything viral, bacterial, or fungal then Wolverine's healing factor will make short work of it. Obviously if his healing factor is down for any reason, as I believe it currently is, then it's a different ballgame. And he wouldn't have any natural defences against magical or supernatural zombification. I guess my feeling is that I'd want to make sure I was somewhere else when the experiment was taking place....

Question 4: If you were turned into a zombie but were able to retain any semblance of human sentience, what aspect of humanity or your former life do you think your brain would fixate on and hold on to?

Mike Carey: Deadlines. Must... finish script before... fingers rot off....

Question 5: You're a zombie. Describe your first attempt at killing a human. (Technically this is not a question but it is still a statement that should result in a delightful answer.)

Mike Carey: Oh man. I'm British, so I'm fairly withdrawn and introverted. Emotionally stunted, even. So I'd feel awkward about eating someone I hadn't been properly introduced to. It would probably be a disaster.

ZOMBIE MIKE: [sidles up to complete stranger. chews his sleeve]

COMPLETER STRANGER: Excuse me. Did you just try to bite me?

ZOMBIE MIKE: Gwurghhhh!

COMPLETE STRANGER: I beg your pardon?

ZOMBIE MIKE: Narrrghhhh!

COMPLETE STRANGER: Yes, but did you try to bite me?

ZOMBIE MIKE: Well, I did a bit.

COMPLETE STRANGER: And do you think that's an acceptable way to behave?

ZOMBIE MIKE: No, I - - No. Not really.



COMPLETE STRANGER: Does sorry make it better?


COMPLETE STRANGER: No it doesn't. Go away now.

ZOMBIE MIKE: I'm really sorry.


To be absolutely frank, I think I'll starve.

5 Zombie Questions: Mike Carey
Above: SA Partridge and Mike Carey discuss The Girl With All The Gifts at a Halloween-themed event during the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September 2014.

Tags: #books, #cape_town, #comics, #open_book, #speculative_fiction, #zombies

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