An infection is spreading through Seattle—one so virulent it threatens to overtake the city’s other iconic symbols (coffee, rain, hipsters in plaid): zombies. Put another way, you can’t swing a dead cat in Seattle without hitting a dead person (who’s been reanimated and craves flesh and brains). There’s plenty of cruel speculation as to why zombies are so popular here. Seattleites are so pasty white it’s hard to tell us from the walking dead. Or: It’s how we look before we have our coffee. Whatever the reason, Seattle is surely the zombie capital of the world (and not just because that’s an uncontested title). Behold just a few of the reasons Seattle is as much necropolis as metropolis.
It’s the world’s first fan convention devoted to the undead, and it started right here. Organized by Ryan Reiter (of the Fremont Outdoor Movies series), last Halloween’s inaugural ZomBcon drew undead royalty, including director George A. Romero (who started all the zombie fuss in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead) and cult hero Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead). Highlights for ZomBcon 2011 include cast members from AMC hit show The Walking Dead, Grindhouse star Rose McGowan, and original Night of the Living Dead star Judith O’Dea—whom you can torment by repeating, “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!” 10/21–10/23. SeaTac Hilton. zombcon.com
Located in Pioneer Square and staffed by the brain trust that was previously behind such video-game hits as “Guild Wars” and “World of Warcraft,” Undead Labs will soon hatch a zombie apocalypse. Currently known only by code names “Class 3” and “Class 4,” UL’s two highly anticipated new games promise an open, evolving, realistic world of zombie mayhem and online play with other survivors. Microsoft will release the titles—and you will not have been the first to make a joke about the appropriateness of that. undeadlabs.com
Plants Vs. Zombies
If you have kids, you have Plants Vs. Zombies, the infectious video game from Seattle’s PopCap Games. Bring your own zombie to “life,” then battle through 50 different levels of undead adventures. Watch out for the zombie-zapping plants! Impress your friends: Build your own “Zombatar” and use it for your Facebook profile picture. $19.95; popcapgames.com
Red, White & Dead Zombie Walk
If anyone uninformed about this annual event ventured into Fremont on July 4, they might have required a change of pants at the sight of thousands of marauding zombies. Make that 4,522 people in zombie drag, thereby officially recapturing the world zombie-walk record (ripping the title from the clutches of Asbury, New Jersey). The walk is organized by ZomBcon’s Reiter, who explains, “Seattle has been at the forefront of coffee, software and grunge—and now as the zombie capital of the world.” July 4 weekend. Search “Red, White and Dead Zombie Walk” on Facebook.
This podcast by KISW’s “BJ Shea Morning Experience” radio personalities The Rev, Mono Nick and Topshelf discusses all things zombie, and has been doing so for three years. (It just won’t die.) Monday mornings. Free on iTunes. KISW-FM 99.9. media.kisw.com/undead-radio.htm
Zombie Research Society
In short: These guys are way into it. One of 36 Zombie Research Society groups spread across six continents (motto: “What you don’t know can eat you”), the Seattle chapter is mainly a “survival-based group,” says chapter president John Farrell. At monthly meetings, a couple of dozen or so members plan communication strategies, shelter possibilities and the like, all in preparation for the apocalypse. The local group doesn’t necessarily believe in shambling zombie hordes, but rather that a virus or engineered pathogen (“more along the lines of 28 Days Later or Quarantine,” says Farrell) is possible. “We figure if you’re prepared for zombies, you’ll be ready for any epidemic, disaster or civil unrest,” he adds. If you want to live, visit zombieresearch.org.
Held on Memorial Day weekend (which actually is sort of appropriate), the Pacific Northwest’s largest horror festival features films and discussions on every aspect of horror and zombie culture, plus beloved zombie stars, such as Bill Mosley of House of 1,000 Corpses. May 25–27, 2012. crypticonseattle.com
This comic book—which, instead of drawings, uses highly processed photographs—about the aftermath of a deadly viral outbreak began in 2009 and is still shot on location in Seattle with local actors. Purchase the three trade paperback collections (Night Zero volumes one, two and three) or view current installments (free) online at nightzero.com.
This acclaimed comic-book series is the brainchild of former Seattle Times reporter Mark Rahner (who—by creepy coincidence—wrote this story). Cowritten by Everett Herald critic Robert Horton, with art by Chicago illustrator Dan Dougherty, Rotten’s satire of current events offers a new wrinkle amid the glut of zombie miscellany. Set in 1877, it follows a Civil War veteran stop-lossed back into service to investigate reports of living dead manifesting in unpredictable new species. The first six issues are collected in Rotten Vol.1: Reactivated, and the newly released Rotten Vol. 2: Revival of the Fittest covers issues 7–12. rottencomics.com
This article has been updated since the print edition went to press.