With the PCS Hobo Day fast approaching, I figured I would put this one up today.
In 2008, I started meeting weekly with Roger Petersen and Mitchell Landsman to make plans for an ongoing anthology comic. Rog is a comics natural, a genius. And he is always trying to convince me to make more comics instead of static illustrations. We each had to pick a different classic comics genre. Rog picked Crime. Mitchell picked science fiction. I hate most superheroes (except the monstery ones like the Hulk and Thing or awesome villains like The Mandrill or Solomon Grundy). To be honest, I'd rather draw an ongoing romance or war comic than a superhero story. I was pretty stressed out. I thought, "If I had to draw something over and over again, it's got to be something I actually want to draw." I like monsters, so I picked the horror genre. But I was still up in the air about exactly what story I'd want to tell.
Over the next few weeks, I came up with an idea for a hobo zombie story set during the great depression. I love old EC Horror comics and other monster comics from the 60's and 70's. I love Hobos, and I have always been interested in the Great Depression and the conflicts people were faced with at that time. I called the zombie "Dead Legs". First I called him Leggsy after an uncle of mine that passed on a few years back. Leggsy was a tough as nails icon in my neighborhood. But my cousin convinced me not to, and said some would consider it a sign of disrespect. So right now, the project's working title is "Dead Legs".
The outline of the story went through several drafts. Over that year, Rog, Mitchell, and I got very busy and the anthology plans just slipped away. But the idea stuck with me. I had a beginning, an end, and a format that could give the story some legs (no pun intended). The basic concept is this: The zombie starts most stories getting off a train, traveling into a new town. He doesn't know who he is, although he is trying to find out. He has a few remnants of his past life in his bindle, and he is haunted by flashing memories of when he was alive - clues that push him along his journey. He's more of a voodoo zombie than a George Romero zombie (he's not contagious). At the end of each story, after some chaos and horror erupts, he's got to flee and get on to the next town. I did a lot of research on Marvel's "Tales of the Zombie" so I didn't indirectly rip those stories off too much. I also have an "Ahab" type character - a railroad bull who the zombie wrongs early in the story. This character is loosely based on Ernest Borgnine's "Shack" character from the hobo classic "Emperor of the North Pole". Anyhow, I guess it's inspired by my favorite influences in art and culture (monsters, hobos, old-tyminess), but also by some of my favorite entertainment as a kid (The Fugitive and Incredible Hulk teevee shows).
I tinker with the story from time to time. I keep a separate sketchbook for it. It's just tough to invest myself in any long-term project right now with several jobs. The reason I posted this long story is because I have been doing a bunch of "money-chasing" projects lately. I needed to remind myself that I still need to make time for the work I want to make - something that I would enjoy sitting at the table to do. Something fun that is a culmination of my own taste and influences, however off the rails they may be.