The Other Dead Interview with Joshua Ortega

by Rob Caprilozzi

The world’s first Zombie Animal epic is here! A deadly hurricane threatens New Orleans just as a frightening and mysterious outbreak hits the animal kingdom! Join all-star creators Kevin Eastman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Joshua Ortega (Gears of War), and Digger T. Mesch (Agent 88) for the beginning of this year’s most anticipated new horror series! With art by rising star Qing Ping Mui, The Other Dead is destined to be the most talked-about zombie book since The Walking Dead!

We caught up with writer, Joshua Ortega to talk about The Other Dead.

Horror News Network: How did the concept for this title come about?

Joshua Ortega: The Other Dead is based off of a film treatment that Digger T Mesch came up with in 2009. It was originally a story of both human and zombie animal infection, but when Digger and I decided to work on it together, I really gravitated towards the zombie animal angle, and we decided to run with it.

We hadn’t seen a book or film that really focused on zombie animals yet and the idea was so compelling, we just knew that it was an idea whose time had come. It’s hard to break new ground at this point with human zombies–so much has already been done–but zombie animals are pretty much a blank slate, so it’s allowing us to do some things with zombies that haven’t been done before. Even just seeing what a zombie dog or a zombie cat or a zombie alligator looks like is compelling, but then add the horrific angle of the absolute carnage that an undead animal kingdom could unleash, and I think you have the makings for a very unique and terrifying tale.

Horror News Network: Can you tell us a bit about the main characters in this title?

Joshua Ortega: Sure. The main characters in the story are Tommy Romero, a 10-year old cancer survivor who’s struggling with his faith and belief in life; Azazael, his older brother and a member of a Norwegian-like death metal band that’s been dabbling in ritual animal sacrifice; Justina Abelinda, Az’s girlfriend and an exotic dancer who’s also a bruja; Chet Wayne, a racist ex-army ranger; and President Obama, in his first role in a zombie animal epic that I know of. (laughs)

It’s an eclectic cast of characters, and I think the uniqueness of each character really adds a lot to the feel of the story…it’s not only a different type of monster that readers get to look forward to, but also a different type of cast than you’d often find in a horror story. Hopefully, readers will really enjoy the mix.

Horror News Network: In your opinion what makes animal zombies more terrifying than people being turned into zombies?

Joshua Ortega: As the tagline goes: faster, stronger, deader. Animals can be pretty scary in their own right, but when you add undead powers to their natural abilities, you have an absolute fucking nightmare. These aren’t slow and plodding zombies, they’re quick, instinctual, and absolutely savage…pretty much the stuff that nightmares are made of.

And the fact that they’re all around us, all the time, but we don’t really see animals as threats anymore, I think that adds to the creepiness of the infection…when all of the sudden even a squirrel is as frightening as the boogeyman, you know you’re living in a nightmare world.

Horror News Network: There are many zombie titles on the stands these days. What will make The Other Dead stand high above the rest?

Joshua Ortega: The high concept, of course, is going be the first thing. There’s never been a horror property that focused on zombie animals to this degree. I think that’s very compelling in of itself and should inspire a lot of curiousity. Second, the art team of Qing Ping Mui and Blond have been absolutely fantastic on this book…when people get a look at the pages, they’re really going to be wowed by the quality of the work. These guys have worked incredibly hard on this book, and it really shows.

I truly think it’ll be one of the best looking books on the shelves, and we also have the Subscription Variant covers by Kevin Eastman (each cover will be part of a larger Eastman masterpiece), the notorious “Obama packing heat” cover by Dave Dorman, and a ton of other great covers and pin-ups by a wide range of artists. It’s a very eye-catching book, and should give readers a lot of nice, horrific eye candy.

And of course, we’re all hoping that the story itself is something unique that really draws people in…again, from concept to characters, we’re trying a lot of different things with The Other Dead, and we’re really looking forward to seeing what readers think of it.

Horror News Network: Can you talk about the collaborative process between you and the fellow creators on this book?

Joshua Ortega: Yeah, the process has been great, and the entire team has worked really hard to make this book the best it can be. In a nutshell, the book originated with Digger’s film treatment, then I took over the bulk of the writing from there, then Kevin came on as a Creative Consultant (providing both story and art input). Now, Kevin and Digger help oversee the property, but from issue to issue, it’s me, Qing, and Blond working together to try and get readers the best possible comic we can.

Horror News Network: Can you talk a bit about the art style of Qing Ping Mui and what it lends to this series?

Joshua Ortega: Qing’s work has been phenomenal on The Other Dead, and I really think this book will put him in the elite class of artists working today. His style is really unique, and the level of detail on it is just insane…he also handles blood and gore in an uncompromising fashion, so hardcore horror fans should be really pleased with the lovingly grotesque results of his hard work.

Horror News Network: In closing, what would you like to say to our readers about The Other Dead?

Joshua Ortega: First, thanks for the interest in the book and reading the interview! Second, the book comes out on 9/11, and we’ll be shipping with three covers: the main cover with the Other Dead logo, the Subscription Variant from Kevin Eastman, and the 1:10 incentive Obama cover from Dave Dorman. If you’re interested in the two variants, definitely let your retailer know…and if you don’t see them on the shelves, again, let ‘em know!

Last, we hope you enjoy the book, check out the letter column (complete with a “name the letter column” contest!”), and definitely let us know what you think!

Horror News Network: Thanks for your time, Joshua. Best of luck with this comic!

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