Comic Review: Love Eats Brains

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Writer | Artist: Dash Shaw

A skinless zombie girl, tightly embraced in a living boy’s arms, looks up into his eyes and says, “kiss me.?

Is there a more promising possible start to a comic subtitled, “A Zombie Romance,? as Love Eats Brains is?

While watching a rented video, Will and his girlfriend Julie are surprised to see the movie cut out and, after a static interlude, an interview begin with what appears to be a dead person. Julie, conventional and sweet, doesn’t understand and wants to turn it off. The inquisitive, restless Will, on the other hand, is captivated.

Compelled to learn more, Will tracks down Nachi, a girl who has learned that the dead are returning to life at a local cemetery. She has been spending time in the cemetery, interviewing the zombies, taping conversations about their lives, and then splicing them into videotapes she rents in an attempt to spread the knowledge.

Will and Nachi soon begin a relationship which brings Will deeper into her world and into contact with zombies, as well as estranging him from Julie.

Love Eats Brains is much more than a zombie story. In fact, it’s not exactly a horror comic. Certainly there are zombies and murder. There’s even necrophilia. But Love Eats Brains is, at its core, comic about love that uses horror to illuminate deep human emotions.

Love weaves all throughout the series. There’s the fractured love between Will and Julie, the uneasy love between Nachi and Will, and the haunting love Will maintains for a father he never knew. Amid the murder and the zombies, there are touching human moments — such as the prom night power outage Will and Julie spend on the roof of her house — and genuine emotions.

Among the most striking and beautiful passages in the series is an interlude between issues two and three, in which two men, killed in a head-on car crash, meet in the cemetery after their deaths. Instead of harboring anger at each other over what has been taken from them, they are able to accept each other, let their pasts go and become friends. This is a kind of acceptance and peace most horror work wouldn’t ever think of, let alone include.

Love Eats Brains heralds the coming of a major new talent in indie comics. Though it is Shaw’s first major work, he’s since created the graphic novel Gardenhead, and contributed to anthologies including Meathaus and New Thing.

The series has gone through upheavals since its last issue appeared in Sept. 2002. Originally the series was to be completed by Shaw and an assistant artist (Shaw’s schedule is a busy one: he’s still in college and is doing other comics as well). A tradepaperback of the series, with new pages, is set to be released soon (Shaw has already been selling it at conventions).

The trade will be published by Oddgod Press, though nothing has been solicited yet. Hopefully, by early 2005 horror fans everywhere will be able to clutch Love Eats Brains their sweaty, cold hands.

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