I’m always on the lookout for a new horror mag, so when I saw ZOMBIE NATION on the newsstand this weekend, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. A magazine devoted to surviving a zombie apocalypse seemed like an instant winner, so I snatched it up without even cracking the cover.
When I finally got a chance to look inside, I was a little surprised – the people behind ZOMBIE NATION aren’t messing around. This is a publication for the hardcore zombie survivalist, and they take their shit seriously. Without even the slightest bit of tongue-in-cheek à la Max Brooks, the table of contents includes articles such as “The Kel-Tec KSG Tactical Pump Shotgun – 12 Gauge Zombie Stopping Power,” and “Hornady Z-Max: The Only Ammo You Need to Fight the Hordes.” Additional articles include tips on zombie hand-to-hand combat, and using a rifle flash suppressor as a stabbing weapon.
Now I’m no gun noob – as a kid growing up in rural Indiana, rifles and hunting were a part of life – but even I was a little taken aback by how gun-centric this magazine is. More than half the articles and nearly 100% of the advertising are for guns and tactical accessories, all to defend against something that, well… let’s face it, doesn’t actually exist. All this made me curious about who would publish something like ZOMBIE NATION, so I did a little Google research which eventually led me to some online gun forums. As it turns out, ZN is published by the same folks behind Guns & Ammo Magazine, and the general consensus among the NRA crowd is that this new mag is mostly a marketing ploy.
Apparently, gun and tactical accessory manufacturers have discovered a lucrative niche in the undead. Take a rifle scope, paint it flat black and slap a zombie sticker on the side, and you can suddenly charge an extra twenty percent.
What occurs to me is that if ZOMBIE NATION makes it past the premiere issue, some controversy is bound to follow. Defenders of movie and video game violence have always cited the fact that even a kid knows the difference between fiction and reality. But you don’t often come across something that so effectively blurs the line between the two – or that makes such real and deadly weapons look so much like toys and movie props.
To be fair, I did find ZOMBIE NATION entertaining, and it isn’t entirely devoted to weapons of zombie destruction. Additional articles include interviews with the zombie actors on AMC’s The Walking Dead TV series, Hunting the Undead on the Silver Screen, and an interview with make-up artist Bill Johnson. I also really liked the foldout Zombie Target Poster (see pic.)
However, overall I think ZOMBIE NATION will lack appeal for a wider horror audience. If you’re not already a “gun person,” you’re likely to find all the technical detail on the TenPoint StealthZ Crossbow a little bit tedious.
The Bottom Line: If you’re looking for some zombie entertainment, you may want to flip through a copy of ZOMBIE NATION at your local bookstore and give it a once-over before you plunk down the 9 bucks.
P.S. I have a suspicion that my friends at The Zombie Rights Campaign will have something to say about all this, so I’m looking forward to hearing from them…
Dave_P studied fine arts and film history and is a graphic and web designer, and a diehard movie fan. David has been involved with a variety film festivals including the Cinephile Film Festival, the PRIDE Film festival, and the Manhattan Short Film festival, and is currently the director of the Dark Carnival Film Fest in Bloomington, Indiana. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)