07 Oct Zombie Month: Zombie Cows
Dead North is out this month! You can purchase it at Chapters and Amazon.com. To celebrate, several of the authors in the anthology are guest blogging about…zombies! Today, brings us Claude Lalumière discussing zombie cows.
By Claude Lalumière
Zombie cows. For Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Dead North: Canadian Zombie Fiction, I wrote about zombie cows. I briefly considered, instead, returning to the zombie future I’d created in “The Ethical Treatment of Meat” and revisited in “A Visit to the Optometrist,” but I thought I’d have more fun coming up with something new. And so: zombie cows. Blame Steve Gerber.
Who is Steve Gerber? To my mind, he’s the probably the greatest writer ever to work in American comics. His masterpiece is Howard the Duck, about a cigar-smoking talking duck from a parallel Earth where ducks are the dominant species who gets trapped on the human-dominated Earth because of a multiversal cock-up. Before graduating into his own series, Howard first appeared and crossed into the human world in Gerber’s second-greatest work, Man-Thing (about a mute and seemingly mindless walking pile of swamp muck who has bizarre reactions to human emotions and who happens to be the guardian of the Nexus of All Realities). Gerber also wrote Tales of the Zombie, but, perversely, that has nothing to do with his influence on my story about zombie cows, “Ground Zero: Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.”
For Giant-Size Man-Thing #5, Gerber wrote a short Howard the Duck story in which the embattled duck clashes against Bessie, a vampire cow who mistakes Howard for her greatest enemy, Dracula. I love that story. It’s so deliciously absurd, both hilarious and tragic in the most unexpected ways.
So, even though I hadn’t read that story in decades, when I was woolgathering trying to find ideas for a new zombie story, my mind kept returning to that story, to the idea of recasting a classic monster as a cow.
So I had my monster: a zombie cow (as it turns out, a herd of zombie cows).
Next, I needed a setting. Dead North required a Canadian setting. It wasn’t too hard to decide to once again destroy the city of my birth, Montreal (see “This Is the Ice Age,” “Hochelaga and Sons,” and “Roman Predator’s Chimeric Odyssey” for previous devastations I have visited upon Montreal). Specifically, since cows were already on my mind, I remembered once touring the McGill University dairy farm in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue (a suburb at the very western tip of the Island of Montreal) and being horrified not only at the dreadful conditions imposed on the enslaved cows but at the casual callousness and lack of the slightest shred of empathy on the part of the staff and of the School of Environment students and teachers also on that tour.
With that, I had enough to get cooking. I threw it all into the melting pot that is my fiction brain and let the ingredients stew until a story emerged. How CSIS (that’s the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, for you non-Canadians) and animal rights activists worshipping the Hindu and Egyptian cow goddesses Kamadhenu and Hathor also got into the story, I have no clue.
Do you like zombies? Do you live in Vancouver? Then come to the launch of Dead North Thursday October 24, 7 pm, at the Storm Crown Tavern, 1305 Commercial Drive (at Charles) Vancouver, BC.