This is it ladies and gentlemen. The 550th Heaven Forbid webcomic. How crazy is that! 550 individual comic posts in under 4 years. I’m pretty stoked about that, but I also am sort of embarrassed. This amount of webcomics is getting a little out of hand!
You’ll notice, as I hinted at on social media, this is COMPLETELY different from anything I’ve done with Heaven Forbid before! It’s true that I have done a couple “Betsy & Varonica” styled Heaven Forbid pieces and you’ve probably my art in the recent sketchbook I did with Zach Bassett was also in that style. But, I’ve not done a comic story before in this style.
You may have also noticed how it is exceedingly different from previous HF stories, in that, well, our leading lady is… sort of a zombie. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that I have gotten really good input on the art I did for a Red Headed Zombie Show flier, which went on to actually win a Red Headed Zombie Show Award! With Chelsea already being a redhead, drawing a zombie with her characteristic pigtails was a no brainer. After thinking about how much fun it was to draw a retro zombie styled Chelsea, and how I wanted to draw a full story as influenced by Dan DeCarlo’s art [one of my favorite artists and a primary influence at present- a legendary Archie and Marvel/Timely artist. Also, creator of Josie and the Pussycats and Sabrina the Teenage Witch].
I’ve been wanting to branch out with Heaven Forbid, especially now that I have completed the narrative I’ve had in mind for the past 3 years. That story begins with Heaven Forbid vol 1, continues in Heaven Forbid vol 2, and ends with HF3: Journey Into Her Story. While “Journey” ends with open possibilities, and I have a decided plan for that, I don’t want to tackle it just yet. In fact, HF2 and Journey were initially going to be one book. As that book would have been about 350 pages, it was divided into two books.
So now, I’m going to have some fun, doing more lighthearted, short stories. Forget continuity. Is the “real” Chelsea a zombie? No, not at all. This isn’t even an “alternate continuity” story. It’s not another universe; it’s just a story. You can know that everything in HF1, HF2, and especially Journey does apply to these characters. But, at some point I will pick up directly where Journey ended, and get back to the Chelsea/Carter romance. At this point, in “My Gal, the Zombie,” they are back together. You can figure that a little bit of time has passed since they broke up- but I’m not detailing that here. That’s just not the purpose. Will Chelsea and Carter get back together in the “real continuity” Heaven Forbid? Could Chelsea and London ever be friends again? You’ll just have to wait and see. Just know that for the purposes of this story, that’s the set up.
This “lack of continuity” is mainly inspired by the “everyman” concept of Archie Andrews. I swear, Archie is everything! He’s a rock star, he’s a heart throb, he’s a sports star, he’s a married to Betty, he’s married to Veronica, he’s married to Valerie. He’s a hippie, he’s a Christian, he’s a superhero, he’s a secret agent, he’s a slacker, jerk, loser, always in trouble with Mr. Weatherbee. But, he’s also the “All American” boy next door, as influenced by American teenage pop culture as he has been influential on American teenage pop culture. The Archie writers have done nearly everything with Archie, because you can tell just about any story with him. Continuity doesn’t really matter. All you need to know is the minimal basics of him and you can enjoy Archie stories. [And you can usually grasp that from looking at the cover!]
I would like to be able to do similar things with Heaven Forbid. I read in some interview with Jaime Hernandez [of Love and Rockets fame] that while his brother Gilbert often does books apart from his L&R work, Jaime typically doesn’t. He said something along the lines that whenever he thinks about it he realizes, “This is a Maggie story, or a Penny story.” I find the same thing [Although I do use other characters like in Cow Puncher, Captivated, and especially Maiden Voyage]. I’ve got a variety of different basic character types. I can put them into nearly any story, whether it’s in outer space [also why I was SO excited about Janak's HF in space pinup, also featured in HF3], or under the sea. So, when I considered doing the zombie story, it made perfect sense to use the characters I already know.
For those of you wondering how this fits into the story- just have fun with it. It’s completely different. I’ve had quite positive feedback from people so far, but I realize it is totally different. If you were a fan of the previous “HF style” and don’t care for this one, I hope you give it a chance. I’m sure I’ll get back to drawing like that again- this is simply an opportunity to do something else. For anyone wondering, if HF is a “Christian” comic, how can you have an evangelical character become a zombie? Just know that this will never be offensively graphic at all. There will be no killing, no brain eating, nothing like that. I don’t want to give how away, but I think that everyone will appreciate the angle I take on this story.
I’m not a fan of most “modern” zombie stories. I mentioned to someone not too long ago that doing something like drawing “The Walking Dead,” would just about be one of the least fulfilling things I could do in comics. I’m just not into that. Now, I love the original Night of the Living Dead and one of my very favorite films is The Last Man on Earth. White Zombie, stuff like that. I really like the Will Smith version of I Am Legend, too. But, most current zombie movies and comics do nothing for me. I liked Mike Allred’s iZombie and I like Fred Perry’s “Zombie Kid Diaries” [I'll admit, I've not read all of either series, however]. People go silly for zombie things and I really don’t care for that fad. But, I do think I have an interesting story, about a character who couldn’t really be described in another term. So, I’m using it. Am I selling out and riding on a fad wave? Maybe, but I’m not doing it for that reason [although, increased sales sure couldn't hurt!]
My inspiration for this “My Gal, the Zombie” run is primarily the series Archie’s Mad House, in which especially out of continuity things would happen with the Riverdale crew. It was also where Sabrina the Teenage Witch [predating Bewitched by two years and also influencing "My Gal..."] debuted. It also had a shorter run companion series called “Tales Calculated to Drive You Bats,” which was primarily monster/horror themed. It’s obvious that both were influenced by Mad Magazine and there have been recent reprints in the “World of Archie” digest of them [as well as pre-pussycats Josie!]
The humor is also quite influenced by I Love Lucy. That is a favorite show of my mother’s and I probably saw just about every episode of it before I was five years old and then again before I was ten years old. While watching it a few months ago, I realized how much it influenced my comedic writing. I had never consciously thought about it before, but so many of the things I do comedically were there in “Lucy,” except done to a greater extent. The show is just about perfect! “Bewitched” is also quite influential here, especially in regards to all the silly monster witch related things. Samantha is different from a zombie, but it provides lots of great comedy that’s not too far out of this realm. In fact, I almost consider, “My Gal, the Zombie,” to be the post war sitcom starring the HF crew as actors more than HF continuity itself…
If all goes well, I’ll have a list minute mini comic of this story for Denver Comic Con. I also have a really neat connected merchandise item which I am pretty much keeping a secret until the convention. After which, I’ll make them an item in my store. Thanks for reading and thanks for joining me on this ride!