“Trust me – it’s not porn.”
That’s a line – the most memorable line – from a review request I received. It’s not a common line in review requests; off-hand, I can’t think of anything I’ve reviewed, or even read, that the author felt needed the same disclaimer. Given the title, and the cover, and the concept, and the characters though, I do understand.
After a glowing green meteor crashes down into the woods outside of town, lesbian zombies start seducing women and devouring men. I know that sounds ridiculous. It’s up to a lesbian-obsessed loser and a practical lesbian (not a zombie one) to save the day. I know that sounds ridiculous as well.
Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space is inspired by old B-movies, and it absolutely shows. There’s a lot of violence and a lot of sex. Blood sprays, and women have unrealistic proportions. Almost every piece of clothing seems to be describable as “tear-away”.
Surprisingly enough, it’s not actually pornography. I’d vaguely assumed that the author was lying, on the basis that anyone who starts by assuring you that something isn’t something is being dishonest. Things that start with “I’m not a racist, but…” are invariably racist, for example. But Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space is, despite everything, not actually pornography.
It lacks the intent to titillate. Or at least, to be realistic about the medium, it lacks the intent to titillate more than normal for a graphic novel. There are lots of barely-clad women, almost all the dialogue and situations are sexually charged, and there’s a lot of implied sex. But weirdly, sex is not the focus; it’s a constant presence, but it is implied, and it’s mostly meant to be horrific, not erotic. Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space is a horror story in which the monster uses sexuality, not a framing device for sex scenes.
In some ways, you can see this as a deliberate work of satire, parodying a sex-obsessed culture that fetishises lesbians. If you’re going to do that, however, you have to accept that the actual mechanism of that satire is naked women tearing people apart with their teeth. There’s definitely an element of satire, but it’s overshadowed by the comic’s adoption of the qualities it criticises. Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space is holding up a mirror to society, but can’t stop checking itself out at the same time.
One thing that struck a slightly false note for me were the protagonists. One of them is fine – Ace is obsessed with sex and lesbians, and watches his dreams turned into horrors, slowly becoming a better person along the way. That’s a standard horror trajectory, and fits with the themes. Gwen, on the other hand, seems to tick all the negative stereotypes of lesbians. For a graphic novel that is attempting to criticise the objectification of a sexuality, it’s a misstep. I think it might be a deliberate one, layering the satire, but it hasn’t quite worked.
Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space is very well-made. The art style is consistent and clear – bold colours, and you’re never in any doubt as to what is going on. The people look like people, although all the women are somewhat idealised, and many of them are too thin (rib-cages, etc.). The quality is a lot higher than I expect from independent comics. Once you buy into the concept, the writing is similarly effective.
In all, it’s a solid zombie graphic novel. It all works, everything is professionally done and the art and writing are of sufficient quality. The authors understand how zombie stories are meant to work and how to use the medium to create tension and atmosphere. I’ve definitely read far worse.
Obviously, other zombie things exist, many of them not requiring the same disclaimers. If you would rather have your zombie stories without a strong “space lesbian” element, then you will have no trouble finding graphic novels that suit you. If, however, you either don’t mind space lesbianism, or actively seek out B-movie aesthetics, then this is the series for you.