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Clay Blakehills

After the World

Black House Comics (2009)

ISBN: 978-0-98060-065-0

Reviewed by Gillian Polack, August 2010

I’m reviewing the After the World series out of order, I’m afraid. I started with Jason Fischer’s Gravesend because I wanted my work experience student to read it (I made a fifteen year old read a zombie apocalypse story – my soul is probably doomed to strange perdition). I read Killable Hours first, however.

Killable Hours reminded me that zombie books are changing. Gravesend made me think about John Wyndham, with its set-up of a cosy apocalypse. Killable Hours does this even more than Gravesend, because it’s close to home and kills off all sorts of people we’ve wondered about. Just the thought of zombie lawyers makes several of my friends smile, as if this was destined. I still don’t quite get why it’s funny to ponder upon zombie lawyers and not upon zombie bricklayers, but it is, and Blakehills has taken advantage of this absurdity. It’s a serious zombie novella, but, like Gravesend, there’s a sense that it might be just a little tongue in cheek. This makes the whole thing (like Gravesend) just a cut above where it would otherwise be. The macabre humour underlying the spatter and gore means that it never takes itself quite as seriously as the surface suggests. In other words, it’s fun.

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Jason Fischer

After the World Saga. 2

Black House Comics (2009)

ISBN: 9780980600643

Reviewed by Natasha Pearson* and Gillian Polack, July 2010

Gravesend is a post-apocalyptic zombie novella. It is the second of a new Australian pulp series published by Black House Comics. While the series calls itself a “saga”, this has to be tongue-in-cheek, as the novella is an unlikely form for a saga. Fischer’s novella definitely builds on the previous one, however (set in an Australian law firm) and its action begins after the zombie plague has taken hold and the last of the healthy humans are under siege.

The story is set in Kent in Gravesend (which is a pun that was inevitable the moment the subject of the novella was linked to the writing of Jason Fischer), and begins with the main character Tamsyn Webb on guard duty watching for zombies from a clocktower. It launches straight into the action with a mass zombie attack. Fischer then explains how the world has changed to become a place infested with the undead and how bleak the future looks for the villagers living in Kent. Things begin to get worse, as more people are killed by the zombies, but hope comes in the form of a transmission from America.

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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.

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Clay Blakehills

After the World, Vol 1

Black House Comics (2009)

ISBN 9-780980-600650

Reviewed by Ross Murray, March 2010

Killable Hours is the first volume in Black House Comics’ After the World series of stories set in a zombified Australia.

Promoting itself as “All New Australian Pulp”, the After the World series draws on the American pulp magazines (1890s-1950s) and their predecessors the Penny Dreadfuls and Penny Bloods of the 1850s and 1860s which gave spawn to a many mythic characters such as Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Spring Heel’d Jack. These magazines contained stories peppered with violence, murder, crime, and supernatural visions meant to shock and disgust. They were cheap and expendable, much like the hordes of lawyers in Killable Hours.

As a law intern completing the final year of his degree, Terry has decided that law just isn’t his bag, baby. Luckily for him he won’t have to complete it because, as is happening a lot lately, the zombie apocalypse occurs without any explanation as to how it happened and why. Apocalypses just happen these days and, well, there you go… On the other hand, Terry is somewhat unlucky as a bunch of lawyers in the firm soon go from “bloodsuckers” to flesheaters after more than just his pound of flesh. Terry manages to survive the first onslaught and with fellow survivors Janelle and Neville, eventually have to fight their way out of the firm’s inner city high-rise building.

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