In a small cabin sporadically besieged by shambling zombies, two unnamed strangers sit uneasily as the walking dead relentlessly scratch at the precarious wooden fortifications at the windows. Despair and emptiness have long since set in, life is now an endless purgatorial struggle, and this story is a mere reflective snapshot of countless similar occurrences happening all over the ravaged wasteland. When the world has gone to hell and survival is all that matters, the very nature of what it means to be human is reduced to merely enduring one day to the next. “Name?” one of the strangers asks; “Does it really matter these days?” comes the reply.
Although the comic’s title has an obvious connotation of the slowly putrefying flesh of the roving undead, it can also refer to the decayed state of human nature in the post-apocalyptic world. Virtues like kindness and decency are things of the past and have been replaced with constant wariness and mistrust, since any encounter with a stranger could prove just as dangerous as being cornered by the wandering legion of flesh-munching ghouls.
Janine van Moosel’s artwork retains the heavy shading and grim countenances seen in her superlative work illustrating City of Lost Souls, and comes coloured with a faded chromatic vibrancy, as if the world has been coated in a layer of grime with only the shine of disconcertingly bright eyes piercing through the decay.
At a mere nine pages, it’s little more than a short story given graphic life, but like the best examples of such form it creates a world that immediately pulls you in before forcing you to rethink everything you thought you just figured out. Its brief narrative is elegantly misdirecting, remaining mysterious without being patronising and revelatory while remaining subtle.
THE ROT / AUTHOR & PUBLISHER: MIKE GILLAN / ARTIST: JANINE VAN MOOSEL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW