Jason Fischer

After the World, Vol 2

Black House Comics (2009)

ISBN: 9780980600643

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely, March 2010

Zombies are increasing in popularity all over the place. There’s Zombies vs Unicorns, World War Z, Zombie Racoons and Killer Bunnies, and YA romance zombies (can I just say, ick). Whether they want to eat your brains or take over the world or fall in love with your girlfriend, they are certainly a mainstay of horror writing all over the world. Australian publisher Black House Comics is cashing in on the current zombie craze with a new pulp series, After the World. One of my favourite Aussie writers, Jason Fischer, takes the helm with the second instalment of this series, Gravesend.

Tamsyn is one of the few survivors trapped in Gravesend, Kent, after the end of the world. She and her father survived the initial zombie outbreak, but things are not easy behind the blockade in Gravesend, with food scarce and more zombies moving into the area every day. The survivors are trying to come up with options for the future, but after a disastrous attempt to contact survivors in London, and the situation worsening everywhere for the ragged remnants of humanity trying to endure the unendurable, things aren’t looking good. On top of a zombie apocalypse, Tamsyn is haunted by the horrific death of her mother, and what her death may mean for their survival.

Once I got past the fact that Fischer, who has such a distinctive Australian “voice” in many of his other stories, was telling a story set in southern England, I really enjoyed this. At times, my fingers were actually curling on the pages with the tension of the plot, as I waited to see what happened next! The story is perfectly paced, and I was completely immersed in it.

Fischer pulls no punches with character or story, and it’s not for the faint-hearted. However, it does HAVE heart, and I found myself close to tears more than once; it’s no mean feat to elicit this reaction in such a short piece. I may have skimmed some of the more gruesome descriptions, but the emotion of the tale was very strong. The action and background story felt like I’d fallen into an aspect of Max Brooks’ World War Z, and I suppose such comparisons are inevitable in this genre. But this is certainly not a weakness, as the “Z” world is compelling reading, and so is Gravesend.

I probably wouldn’t have picked this up if it wasn’t written by someone whose work I love, but I’ll definitely be tempted to continue reading the series now that I’ve been hooked. A short but compulsive read!