Splatterpunk – 2014
In the already established tradition of keeping things punk and keeping things DIY (which seem like they should be synonymous, but too often are not), Jack Bantry and Splatterpunk are not only in the business of releasing a high quality zine full of hardcore horror, but they’ve got signed, limited edition chapbooks as well. It seems only fitting, then, that this specific one is a lot like a split 7” record, featuring original stories by two authors, one on each “side” of the chapbook. It’s like the Big Boys and the Dicks, Live at Raul’s, but in place of the bands, we’ve got Jack Bantry (head and editor of Splatterpunk) and Nathan Robinson (author of Starers and the short story collection Devil Let Me Go).
The two stories in the chapbook are similar in that they are both very short and both zombie stories. But the nice thing is that they are both fairly original in details, opting for a different approach than the typical “group avoiding the oncoming zombie horde” trope. In Jack Bantry’s “The Good and the Bad,” we follow a survivor named Dave as he looks for food and shelter in a setting that feels part zombie apocalypse, part Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Dave’s a nice guy, had even taken in a fellow survivor in the past, only to be robbed of food and weapons. So when he comes to a house in the country, he hopes for the best. Once inside, he finds zombies, presumably the former residents, and has to fight them off. But what he finds in the basement is even more horrifying.
Flip the record (or chapbook), and on the other side we find Nathan Robinson’s “Run for Your Life Nick McClusky.” This is a story that feels familiar at first, then, much like Bantry’s section of the book, hits you with a twist at the end that sets the story apart and forces you to remember it days after you read, the sure sign of a good story. Here we meet our title character, Nick, a former soldier, as he watches down from his empty wreck of an apartment as a group of zombies shambles by. He has the typical down and out story; his wife left him and took the kids with her, he doesn’t have much left, he hasn’t eaten in days, but he’s had plenty to drink. There’s a really cool part in here where Nick takes down an old shoebox to open it up, and he thinks to himself how the dust covering it is obviously his skin and no one else’s, an observation I’ve never seen made before. Nick decides to take action, to do what he can to take out as many zombies as possible, so he loads up on guns and heads out. But what happens once he starts shooting is hardly what you expect.
I really like what Jack Bantry’s doing over there, across the pond, with Splatterpunk, and yes, I know I’ve said that before. I’m just really impressed. He’s keeping things DIY, he’s keeping horror cheap in price while still high in quality, and he’s making it accessible to everyone. This split chapbook is just another glowing example. Full color covers on both sides by Dan Henk, two great zombie stories from two great authors, signed by both authors, limited to just 100 copies. If you like zombie stories, or if you have sometimes been a fan of them but feel they’ve run out of new ideas, this split chapbook is for you.