[Exclusive] Read ‘Fanboys Vs. Zombies’ #1 For FREE & Chat With Series Writer Shane Houghton!

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Fanboys Vs. Zombies has been consistently been filled with hilarious, action-packed zombie killing month after month. Writer Shane Houghton and artist Jerry Gaylord found a clever way to explore geek culture inside the confines of the zombie apocalypse. ‘Fanboys Vs. Zombies’ is a lighthearted gore-fest that will delight horror lovers who can appreciate the dark comedic sensibilities of films like Army of Darkness, where the hero can throw a punch, tell a joke, and kiss the girl all in the same scene.

Digital comics distributor ComiXology has a giant sale on ‘Fanboys Vs. Zombies’ this weekend, with every issue of the series available for 0.99 cents. To celebrate the sale, BOOM Studios gave Bloody-Disgusting readers an exclusive free digital copy issue #1 as a gateway drug into the series.

Writer Shane Houghton caught up with Bloody-Disgusting to talk about where the book is headed, and why horror hounds should give this series a chance. Check out the interview with Shane and then read issue #1 for free after the jump.

BD: For those fans that aren’t currently reading Fanboys Vs Zombies, give us your elevator pitch on why they should jump on board…

SH: It’s horror-comedy about a group of Comic-Con attendees fighting off the zombie apocalypse.

BD: You took over the series from Sam Humphries, and have just hit the ground running ever since. Tell us a bit about your pitch that earned you the job and your approach to this series and its characters?

SH: Sam and I went out for lunch and talked about the series. The editors had been wanting to get the Wrecking Crew (our heroically nerdy group of survivors) out of San Diego and out into the world. Las Vegas seemed like a logical and wildly awesome choice. But I think what really nailed it was my addition of the character Kurt Kiel. Basically, Kurt is a Robert Kirkman-like successful zombie comic book writer who would totally survive a zombie outbreak. Kurt provides Abed-(from Community)-like inside knowledge and expertise to the group. Sam was currently writing issue 7 (I think) where the guys discover the creepy post-apocalypse comic con and told Sam that would be the perfect place for the gang to meet up with Kurt. Kurt was held prisoner and forced to sign autographs.

Oh, and then I told them I wanted to blast everyone into space with one zombie and have a Ridley Scott Alien stand-off. But that’s my second arc.

BD: The series is about to jump into “4 Stories of the Apocalypse,” a series of four standalone tales, that go in-depth with some to the popular characters from ‘Fanboys Vs Zombies’. What can you tell us about these particular standalone issues coming up?

SH: After our wild space adventure, not all of the Wrecking Crew will be headed back home to Earth. And the ones who do, have changed. We’re going to switch gears after such an important arc to check in with a few peripheral characters in the FvZ universe while the consequences of the Wrecking Crew’s actions sink in.

The first of the four stories will feature Drake Masterson, the Bruce Campbell-like actor. Or maybe I should say, the ghost of Drake Masterson… After that, we’ve got another character fans will know, and one issue about a character that was talked about, but never seen. Finally, issue #20 takes place in an alternate universe where things are going to get insanely insane. Seriously.

BD: ‘Fanboys Vs Zombies’ has gone to comic con, Las Vegas, and space. Where do you go from here and how far do you have the series plotted out?

SH: We’re going to see a variety of locations in the next “4 Stories” arc, but most of them take place on the West Coast. I usually take this series on an arc-to-arc basis, but I’m always thinking at least four issues ahead.

BD: One of the best parts of this series has been the parody covers. You’ve had parody covers of Harry Potter, Back To The Future, Walking Dead. Who comes up with the ideas for the covers and what’s next?

SH: Oh man, I wish I could take credit for those awesome covers, but I cannot. I think the ideas come from whoever the cover artist is — They’re mostly done by the series artist, Jerry Gaylord, who is supremely funny. Dominike “Domo” Stanton also does covers for the book and I think he’s done a few parodies as well. But I think a fair share of parody ideas comes from our editor, Eric Harburn as well. Eric’s got a great mind chock full of useless pop-culture references that is endlessly at our disposal.

BD: It seems like you and artist Jerry Gaylord are just having loads of fun with this book. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of books in the horror market that take horror and make it lighthearted and fun like this. Are there ever moments where you’ve had an idea that is a little bit too crazy?

SH: HA! We ARE having loads of fun with this book! And what makes it so awesome is that everything that I thought would be too crazy has made it into the book! I’ve written in a Borat zombie, we’ve killed the main character from my Image Comics series Reed Gunther, we dropped a freaking atomic bomb on San Diego, mutated a giant zombie, had the guys drive through the desert in the Batmobile, sent everyone into space… I’ve shot, maimed, and killed main characters and they’re still letting me do whatever I want!

BD: So far in this book you’ve killed zombies just about every possible way. Does it get harder to come up with fun ways to kill the undead as the series progresses?

SH: It does get more difficult to think of new ways to kill zombies. But what I’ve found is a new location really helps generate new weapons or ways to implement a gruesome death. There’s also plenty of action flicks to pull cool kills from as well. In a recent issue, I had Jenna “MacGruber” out a zombie’s throat. I love MacGruber.

BD: If the zombie apocalypse broke out, what are the three things that you couldn’t live without?

SH: My DVD of MacGruber, a 2×4 with a sharp nail sticking out of it, and a good pair of running shoes.

BD: Bloody-Disgusting is giving readers the chance to read issue #1 online for free and Comixolgy has a digital sale on each issue for 0.99 cents this weekend. How important are digital sales to a book like this and online outreach to try and draw in new readers? What is your take on the digital verses print war?

SH: As long as folks are reading comics, I don’t mind how they’re doing it. I hope print comics never go away, and I don’t think they will, but I love cheaper digital comics to try out new series. I’m much more experimental with my digital comic purchases than print. But that’s just me. Everyone reading this should totally read the free issue and then throw down a few bucks for a couple more issues. It’s either a cup of coffee, or two awesome issues of Fanboys vs Zombies. I would suggest purchasing issue #10, because it’s a standalone story that is super fun.

BD: You are going to be writing some upcoming Peanuts for BOOM’s kids imprint and a Simpsons books for Bongo Comics. Talk how these projects came about, and what is it like to get to play with such legendary characters?

SH: I’m super pumped about the Simpsons books I have coming out this summer. For the next three months (starting with May’s issue #83), Bart Simpson Comics will have a story written by me! And then in August (I think) Simpsons Comics will have an entire issue jammed full of my script. I’m thrilled to be playing in the Simpsons sandbox! I wrote eight stories for Peanuts, but they have already come out. I had to leave Peanuts because of all these other awesome writing gigs I’ve been getting. I’ll also have two stories coming out in the SpongeBob Comics series!

All of these projects came about from working on my own series that I co-created with my brother, Reed Gunther. We self-published Reed for a few years and then got picked up by Image Comics. Reed Gunther is an adventure comedy about a bear-riding cowboy. I think the folks who were hiring for the Simpsons, Peanuts, and SpongeBob like the goofy adventures we were making in Reed Gunther and asked me to write for their licensed properties. And I couldn’t be more thrilled!

BD: Anything else you would like to add?

SH: Yes! Thanks for the fun interview!