Nuclear reactors have ruptured in the Midwest, spreading radiation sickness and crippling civilization as we know it. Roving marauders now plague the land. Your mission is to survive and travel to a safe stronghold in what used to be Kansas. Welcome to Trace Italian, a game invented by Sean Phillips.
Wolf in White Van is a haunting portrayal of how we carry the scars of adolescence with us for the rest of our lives, be they emotional or physical. Ever since the accident involving his father's rifle, Sean's facial disfigurement has pushed him into isolation. Seeing him shocks people, and he knows this.
Not all stand-up comedians can translate their live energy and timing into textual representation. For Patton Oswalt, however, the transition from stage to page feels effortless and strangely appropriate. In Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, Oswalt treats us to an engaging romp through a motley assortment of his personal experiences, pop-culture obsessions, and comedic experiments. Oswalt introduces the book with a very appropriate confession: “Comedy and terror and autobiography and comics and literature – they’re all the same thing. To me.” And, for once, he isn’t joking.
Zombie Spaceship Wasteland is extremely eclectic, which makes it difficult to relegate to a singular category. There are sections that lean towards the autobiography/memoir side of the spectrum. But there are also humor pieces and miscellaneous experiments, such as an illustrated chapter that feels like a slightly zanier, compressed version of Dylan Dog. There is also an epic poem dedicated to Ulvaak, the last character Oswalt played in Dungeons and Dragons. While the sheer variety of Zombie’s vignettes might seem overwhelming, the book is actually compulsively readable. I found myself eagerly turning the pages, wondering what Oswalt’s fevered brain would churn out next.