A mix of dark humor and inventive paranormal situations made the first volume of Zombillenium stand out. Author, illustrator, and translator, Arthur De Pins, is not afraid to explore the different ethical values of zombies, demons, and other varieties of undead employees at Zombillenium Park, as well as the evil motivations of humanity. As this volume demonstrates, he’s also not afraid of a cheap joke, should the opportunity present itself.
While the previous book introduced Gretchen the witch intern and Aurelian’s transformation into a large winged demon, this story is about a dysfunctional family with a strange connection to the park. Mother, father, and son, Tim, are having trouble finding the entrance when they happen upon Aurelian jogging by the side of the road. With his help they get discounted tickets. Within moments, the mother is causing trouble—she’s too fat to get through the turnstile, roughly shoving conjoined twin sisters, who sweep up her trash as she eats a candy bar on a park bench. Called to park manager Francis von Bloodt’s office, she sparks his memory—she’s the woman who left a surprise in a dumpster at the work site when the park was being built. Meanwhile, tensions are rising between the unemployed villagers of Deadham and the employed undead of the park. The kidnapping of an employee and subsequent infiltration of the staff by unpleasant and angry locals bring all the plot threads to a cataclysmic culmination.
De Pins’ clean-lined artwork—done in Illustrator—is tailor-made for a book that twists the traditions of the amusement park as set forth by Walt Disney himself. It’s easy to imagine how De Pins’ figures would move around in their world if they were animated. His plotting, too, is playful and perfect for episodic books, with a tone that works well for teen and adult readers—fun, but with an edge. The only sour notes come from repeated fat jokes that attempt to link Tim’s mother’s foul personality with the state of her body, and an off-hand remark by a skeleton about his “Jap bike.” Other strange phrasing leads me to believe that the latter might be a problem with the translation, but the former is a sign of a lazy joke.
That aside, Zombillenium offers a take on the paranormal that is welcomed compared with so many other more serious stories featuring vampires and zombies. There are many more mysteries to be unraveled and pieces of De Pins’ world to be discovered. Luckily, the English version of book three is set to arrive in August.
Zombillenium, vol. 2: Human Resources
by Arthur de Pins
NBM Publishing, 2014