Interview: Zombies VS Robots Co-Creator Chris Ryall

In Comic Books, IDW, Interviews by Beyond The GeekLeave a Comment

Duff here…

I’ve been a fan of Zombies VS Robots since the I first read the words Zombies VS Robots sprawled over the transcendent art of Ashley Wood. Honestly, it’s Zombies fighting and killing Robots and vice-versa, what’s not to love here people?  I just had to know more about the twisted minds behind it.

Co-creator with the above mentioned master of the strange and macabre, artist Ashley Wood, writer Chris Ryall have formed a world of apocalyptic mayhem on scale with the book of Revelation. The title is so strong it’s been picked up by Michael Bay’s (don’t groan) Platinum Dunes to be made (someday) into a motion picture.

When Chris isn’t writing about the annihilation of mankind by machine or undead, he holds down the steady job of COO at IDW–you have to read to find out what that is–it’s kinda of big deal though. He also apparently listens to a lot of metal.



Duff: Where did the concept for ZvR come from?

CR: From a conversation with artist/ZvR co-creator Ashley Wood in maybe early 2006. Ash said he likes drawing robots, and zombies, so I should write him a series with both in it. I embraced the inherent ridiculousness of the concept and went full-bore into a “versus” thing that ultimately doesn’t make any sense. I mean, robots would destroy zombies in a normal world, right? Luckily, we’ve tried hard to be nothing resembling normal.

Duff:  ZvR reminds me of Doctor Who, in the sense that the rules are loose and almost anything can happen… is this accurate and are there limits to the ZvR realm?

ZvR-1RI-FINALCR: I like to think that Doctor Who really stole that from us. I mean, the show predates us by almost a half-century but hell, he’s a time-traveler, it’s possible, right?

But “loose” is definitely a key word for ZvR. I tend to do these stories almost stream-of-consciousness, at least I did at the start. They’ve gotten a bit more plot-heavy lately, and I’ve tried to bring some coherence and actual characters that weren’t just there to be fodder for the zombies or the robots, but yeah, “loose” is a good summation for what we’re trying to do. Fun overrides most continuity concerns here.

ZvR has been optioned, congrats—are you involved and have you thought about casting?

CR: Yes—I would totally cast C3PO as the lead Warbot—let him play against type for once. And for the zombies, well, I’d probably put most of the 2016 Republican presidential contenders—and Bernie Sanders and Biden on the Democratic side—on the front lines as zombies.

I do think there could be some spots for some good voice actors, and the ZvR movie, renamed Inherit the Earth, would be suitably different enough from the comic to a allow for more human roles, too. As to who? Whoever gives the movie the best chance of getting made would be fine with me. At this point, that’s probably, like, Chrises Pratt, Pine and Evans; plus Melissa McCarthy, Rebel Wilson and The Rock. Bring it on. Bring on all comers, long as the movie gets made.

Duff:  If ZvR was a rock album, what album would it be?

CR: Good question. Sadly, this will probably be my most thoughtful, less wise-ass-y answer out of all of these.

Easiest answer is Anthrax’s last album, “Worship Music.” They’ve even got a song on there that zombies-vs-robots1addresses zombies (the human kind and the undead kind), Scott Ian’s a pal and a big comic fan, and in general, their music is what I hear in my head when I’m writing these scripts. I even titled one of the first ZvR stories I ever wrote “Be All, End All,” after an earlier song of theirs.

But I also think of Motorhead. Something like “Overkill.” Like that song just keeps going, the zombies just keep coming. And we all know that Lemmy will be the last man standing, long after the robots and zombies have faded away.

I’ve also had The Mars Volta, Stone Sour, Mastodon, Faith No More, Bad Religion, Airborne Toxic Event and even Drive-By Truckers rolling as I work on these comics, too. All seem fitting to me in one way or another.

Duff:  You’re title at IDW is CCO sounds heavy—what does the CCO do?

CR: That stands for Chief Creative Officer, so that basically entails overseeing the comic publishing; the figuring out of what titles, what creators, what storylines, those sorts of things. Done in tandem with others, too, of course, and there’s much more to it than that, but that’s a good, brief encapsulation of the main job responsibilities.

Duff:  Best memory you’ve made so far while working in comics?

CR: Probably the fact that I just celebrated my 11th year working in comics. It’s starting to really feel like a credible run now, y’know? Or it’s making me feel old. Both. But the best memories are of the friendships I’ve made, the creative folks I’ve collaborated with, the sheer fact that I’ve gotten to do this, and work with so many good, talented, inspiring people. I get to create comics for a living, and have somehow shown enough of an acumen at doing so to be a year into my second decade of doing it. Even the bad memories along the way are pretty good when considered like that.

Duff:  IDW is hot right now, what sets you apart from other publishers?

CR: By right now, I’m sure you mean “especially in the last 11 years,” right? I’ve always been happy with the diversity of what we publish, that’s a key differentiator for us. Horror comics, licensed comics, creator-owned comics, kids comics, digital comics… we’ve been at the forefront of bringing those to market in a big way; and then factor in things like the Artist’s Edition line, the gorgeous strip-book collections and arrays of classic comics re-published in beautiful editions, and you’ve got a place that is willing to take chances, try new things, and keep finding ways to broaden the audience for these kinds of books.

ZvR06_cvrDuff: Ok, last question…Zombie vs Robots – if you had to choose a way to go out, Wild Bunch-style, who do you want to go up against?

CR: Robots, of course—those metal fuckers are going to be the death of us all anyway at some point, right? I think we’ve all come to accept that. And it’d be cleaner, too – robots have no emotion, and should have perfect aim, so I’d think a shot to the head would be easier to take than having my throat torn out by the gnashing teeth of some slack-jawed zombie.

But hell, after working on this book since 2006, I’ve grown close to both of them, so again, I could live with (well, die with) either one. As long as the ZvR movie gets made first.


Issue of 6 of the ongoing ZvR series just hit stands…it’s fantastic.  Also Chris mentioned the next months issue he feels is one his strongest scripts ever, so you don’t want to miss that.

Also, must shout out to Kahill for setting this up! Thanks!


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