Publisher: Image Comics
Writers: Brian Buccellato & Jennifer Young
Artist: Matias Bergara
Release Date: 9th November, 2016
Cannibal offers a fresh perspective on the zombie, a figure historically considered to be a reanimated corpse, controlled by witchcraft, within African and Caribbean folklore. In popular culture, the zombie has been resurrected in recent years via scientific experimentation, notably the creation of synthetic viruses, which cause people exposed to crave the flesh of other human beings, and pass the viral infection to others via biological contamination. The zombie therefore became a fascinating metaphor for commodity in George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead (1985); raised animal welfare concerns in 28 Days Later (2002); and warned of the danger inherent within capitalist power, and technological advances in biological design and weaponry, in the Resident Evil franchise (1996 to 2016).
Cannibal therefore presents a fascinating insight into the germination of this folkloristic figure. It is 1994 and ancient mosquitoes, hibernating underground, have been unearthed by a devastating hurricane. The mosquitoes carry a strand of Yellow Fever, prompting Global Medicine Management to develop a treatment known as Y-PAX in a measure to cure those infected. Unfortunately, the process is rushed and the medicine, though successfully treating the Yellow Fever, causes individuals exposed to crave human flesh. Unlike most incarnations of zombies throughout popular culture, however, the ‘cannibals’ within the comic operate just like they used to, retaining all of their human emotions – including remorse – and can blend into society as normal, until the urge to eat human flesh strikes…
Cannibal thus provides a snapshot of a small town in the Everglades, where everyone knows everyone else’s business, and charts the effect of the pandemic upon the characters. This concentrated focus creates a wonderfully contained story as the epidemic bleeds from the safety of the world outside, contained on news reports on the television, into the everyday lives of the characters, chronicling the slow permeation of paranoia, distrust, and the eventual disintegration of societal structure – all via the familial relationships, roles and secrets of the central Hansen family unit.
Brian Buccellato and Jennifer Young, the latter growing up in Florida, wrote the comic. Young remarks that the environment was chosen due to its close proximity to a variety of natural features – beaches, swamps, farms – and predatory animals. This backdrop, coupled with the regressive behaviour of the cannibals as they hunt their fellow man, and the infiltration of social unrest within the small town, highlights the fragile line between societal structure and the order within the natural world, where humans are just another animal.
Matías Bergara’s artwork creates the density and darkness of this natural environment with heavy lines and textured brushstrokes, coloured in block inks by Buccellato. This design also complements the comic’s central theme of addiction as a social issue, which plays well into the narrative’s almost philosophical exploration of man’s place in society.
Cannibal is a fresh, fulfilling, and finger licking’ good tale for fans of horror and zombie folklore in particular.
To find out more about CANNIBAL, you can check out our interview with Brian Buccellato, Jennifer Young and Matias Bergara by CLICKING HERE.
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The writer of this piece was: Rebecca Booth
Rebecca Tweets from @rebeccalbooth