GRAPHIC NOVELS

The Walking Dead invade Spain

Digital graphic novel duo Marcos Martín and Brian K. Vaughan transport the flesh-eating zombies to Barcelona

Barcelona's old quarter is the setting for this one-off issue of The Walking Dead.
Barcelona's old quarter is the setting for this one-off issue of The Walking Dead.PANEL SYNDICATE

If you’ve ever wondered what was happening in the rest of the world while America was being overrun by the Walking Dead, graphic novelists Marcos Martín and Brian K. Vaughan have the answer – at least in Spain.

Picture the scene; nighttime in Barcelona, the silence of the old Gothic quarter is broken by a bloodcurdling scream that echoes around its narrow alleys. Something or someone is on the prowl, hungry for human flesh: death is not the worst fate if you live in the Catalan capital.

This is the beginning of The Walking Dead: Alien, which the Spanish artist and US writer came up with after the graphic novel’s creator, Robert Kirkman, gave them the green light. It has all the hallmarks of the original The Walking Dead but is strictly a one-off.

On Martín and Vaughan’s website, Panel Syndicate, fans can see how the apocalyptic scenario goes down this side of the Atlantic in 31 black-and-white pages.

As a Barça fan, the idea of depicting Madrid overrun by zombies really appealed

Co-writer Marcos Martín

“It follows the main storyline of The Walking Dead and there is a direct connection to the main series,” Martín tells EL PAÍS. “But the scenario is completely different, and has new characters. For anyone who has never seen or read the original, it stands alone. But for fans of the original, there are things they will recognize and be able to connect to.”

Martín and Vaughan say their Barcelona-based episode is a way of bringing an additional angle to the story, in the same way that Star Wars or The Matrix use videogames and other mediums.

For those who haven’t yet encountered the zombies of The Walking Dead on their TV screens, the story begins with a virus that wipes out almost the entire population of the United States. The dead rise up in search of human flesh while the survivors risk losing their humanity as they struggle to survive.

It was Vaughan’s idea to set The Walking Dead in Spain. An old friend of Kirkman, Vaughan suggested taking the saga across the Atlantic. What started out as a joke turned into a serious four-month project.

Kirkman gave Vaughan and Martín complete creative freedom and 100% of any profits they make, but has kept the copyright to their work. Meanwhile, Kirkman is publishing a print version of Martín and Vaughan’s online comic The Private Eye that has earned them various Eisners – the Oscars of the comic world.

Once Kirkman agreed to Vaughan’s idea, Vaughan pitched it to Martín, suggesting they set it in Madrid. Martín, however, wasn’t convinced. “As a Barça fan, the idea of depicting Madrid overrun by zombies really appealed,” says Martín. “But Barcelona was much easier for me to do.”

“I’ve drawn Batman, Spiderman and Daredevil but this time I felt more pressure than usual,” admits Martín. On top of which I had to give some idea of Barcelona without turning into a tour guide. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be.”

All that Martín will say about the project is that the main characters are a Spanish-American couple and that there will be no sequel. Supposedly, the story begins and ends within 31 pages, but as we all know, in the world of zombies, there is no end.

English version by Heather Galloway.

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