Exclusive: Max Brooks on 'Deadliest Warrior: Vampires Vs. Zombies' and 'The Extinction Parade'


If there's someone left in this world who loves zombies and hasn't read the work of Max Brooks, they're officially advised to get themselves to a bookstore. Brooks' World War Z has so many admirers it's being turned into a film starring Brad Pitt, his Zombie Survival Guide and Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks are also well worth your time. These days, in addition to his non-horror projects (like his recent G.I. Joe comic book title for IDW), Brooks is continuing to spread the zombie love by devloping his next comic series, The Extinction Parade, which like his upcoming appearance on Deadliest Warrior, will deal with a grudge match that all fans of the undead are sure to eat up: vampires versus zombies. Find out what Brooks recently had to tell me about both of these projects, after the jump.

We touched on this when spoke at Comic-Con, but could you elaborate on it a little bit -- why zombies over vampires?

I think it all depends on what decisions the vampire makes. It's exactly the reason I'm into zombies, because zombies are actually very stoppable, if you stop them early enough. I always say it's like AIDS – we could have cured that thing with a freaking pamphlet. If we had made the right decisions and gone public, everybody used condoms, everybody used safe sex, that disease would have died in 1983. And it's the same thing with zombies – if you do what you're supposed to do, you can wipe them out. But if you screw up, then they're gonna expand. I think that's the thing. If the vampires all get together, organize, coordinate, and hit them hard and fast, then hands down vampire victory. If they dawdle, they delay, they have in-fights, if there's like a vampire Tea Party that says, "We're not gonna pay for this," then I think while they're dickering around the zombie threat is gonna spread. The irony is that right before I got the [Deadliest Warror] job I finished a short story ["The Extinction Parade"] about exactly that same subject – vampires versus zombies. In my story, the vampires don't react fast enough. For me, I think the disadvantage of vampires is that psychologically they're parasites. They're not proactive. They don't build the roads and the bridges and write the great poetry and create civilization. They don't feel a sense of ownership over civilization, so therefore they're not gonna have to try to fight to protect it the way humans would. And I think because they're immortal there's an arrogance that goes with it and an overconfidence and a sense to underestimate zombies, and that could very well be their undoing.

Did you have a good chat about this with Steve Niles when the two of you appeared on Deadliest Warrior?

Steve is awesome. I'd actually never met the guy before, but we had an awesome time on the set.  I loved how into it they got. I was like, "Oh my God, the Deadliest Warrior guys – they're totally gonna laugh at us." It was awesome. I don't know if you saw the Comic-Con panel, but there was one point where they got into it. I thought it would come to blows. They were trying to work out a test, and the parameters of the test, and was it scientific and realistic. Tempers got flared.

[Laughs.] It was a little like they were confronting two real menaces as the World Health Organization, and trying to figure out what to tackle first.

Yeah, and to see them yelling at each other, like "No, that is NOT how fast they would go. If you have x plus y equal z…" They went back and forth, talking to the producers. It was very cool to see how seriously they took it. [Laughs.]

What's next for you? Are you done with zombies or could you return?

I don't know. I mean right now I've got three projects. One of them is that short story of vampires versus zombies – I'm adapting it into a comic book. And I'd sort of like to explore that from sort of a comic book point of view. I'd like to explore how vampires could face zombies. That'll probably be out next year. But I have a graphic novel coming out which is a true story, not even science fiction. It's World War 1. And I'm not sure when that'll come out. That'll be in a year's time. Maybe they'll time it for the movie release. But I've been working on that for thirteen years. And to show how truly stupid I am, I'm working on another book, and if I even get a publishing deal I'll publish it under my own name.

Will that be your Richard Bachman book?

Yeah, exactly.  Because I'm such a lame-o, I thought, "Oh my God, great. Brad Pitt's making my book into a movie – how do I capitalize on it? Let's write a non-genre, obscure book, not even under my own name." [Laughs.] Way to cash in.

Always taking the easy route... [Laughs.]

That's me. Mr. Downhill Show-me-the-money Brooks!

Which publisher will do the graphic novel and the comic?

The publisher's probably gonna be Avatar Comics. And the graphic novel's a partnership between Avatar and Random House.

It sounds like there's something for everyone to look forward to there.

I hope so.

Thanks for your time, Max.

Thank you!