Crowdfunding Review: “Zombie-Sama!” (Festival of Dread Special)

Welcome back to the Festival of Dread, The Splintering‘s month-long celebration of all things dark and dystopian!

Today, we’re featuring yet another “Crowdfunding Review” of an independent comic book, this time it’s Zombie-Sama! written by Billy Tucci and featuring illustrations by John Broglia and colors by Paul Little. For those of you not familiar with the crowdfunding review format, we grade a crowdfunding campaign on four distinct categories:

  • Book Content and Quality
  • Communication and Fulfillment
  • Packaging and Shipping
  • Stretch Goals and Bonuses

Zombie-Sama! was funded via both Indiegogo and Kickstarter. I backed the Indiegogo-exclusive physical tier without any high-dollar bonuses or art prints. So how was the Zombie-Sama! experience?

Late to dinner?

Book Content and Quality

After successfully meeting its stretch goals, Zombie-Sama! shipped as a 72-page book. It is an action-horror story with a lighter tone than that of most other zombie tales. The plot follows a young sushi delivery boy named Jim Okami who uses his sword-wielding skills to protect a small group of teenagers during the zombie apocalypse. While not as dark as many other tales of its kind, Zombie-Sama! should not be considered as kids’ stuff. This isn’t the Scooby Doo gang versus zombies, it’s still a very bloody, violent romp with ample flesh chomping and zombie dismemberment.

With so much zombie saturation over the past decade or two, it’s important for any new zombie comic to bring something new to the genre. Thankfully, there are a few ideas at play that were fresh, such as using a shark suit as armor against zombie bites, (How has nobody ever thought of this before?) and weaving the zombies into a teenage love story subplot. Overall, however, it still recycles quite a few ideas and is not remarkably unique in the larger plot points: outbreak – losing loved ones – the military responds but is eventually overrun… etc. Not only that, but for some reason I thought that Zombie-Sama! was going to be a stand-alone story, but the ending leads directly into what will be Zombie-Sama! 2, whenever that happens.

John Broglia’s art is a very good match for the story, as it captures the youth and vibrance of the teenage protagonists, and balances that with a healthy helping of blood & guts. Everything has a dynamic, animation-inspired look, and what could have looked like an Archie horror story instead looks like a proper action adventure. There were no obvious standout moments, but the pages flow well, the action sequences are energetic and fast-paced, and the main character looks cool doing them.

Grade: B-

Extreme, high octane action!

Communication and Fulfillment

Zombie-Sama! was initially scheduled to deliver in May 2019, though the digital version didn’t hit my email inbox until the end of August 2019, and the physical copy didn’t arrive until November… just long enough to miss last year’s Festival of Dread, eh?

That’s a six-month delay, which honestly isn’t too bad. However, email updates on the status of the project over the summer were scant. Tucci instead chose to issue regular updates via the Zombie-Sama! Indiegogo page. I personally don’t care for this approach over email updates, but it’s certainly better than nothing. I should also note that Tucci’s Shi: Return of the Warrior campaign has been very consistent in communicating with backers via email. Live and learn, perhaps?

Other than the above issues, I didn’t have any problems with fulfillment of the Zombie-Sama! project.

Grade: C

Quickly! To the attic! There’s tons of escape routes up here!

Packaging and Shipping

My copy of Zombie-Sama! arrived in a Gemini cardboard mailer in perfect condition. We’ve noted before that Gemini mailers are the gold standard for shipping comic books as they protect them perfectly, even if they are tossed and tumbled in transit. The book and its bonus perks were all bagged and boarded, and the signatures on the book survived without problem.

All of the bonus pack-in material was flat, so it was placed on the opposite side of the book’s bag and board and all arrived in perfect condition, too. What else can I say? The shipping and packaging aspects of the Zombie-Sama! campaign were well done.

Grade: A

Zombie-Sama! awaiting shipment at Billy Tucci’s place

Stretch Goals and Bonuses

As I mentioned above, I backed the basic tier including the Indiegogo-exclusive cover. This came with quite a handful of bonus swag, including a vinyl Zombie-Sama! logo sticker, a golden linen “woodblock” trading card, and a “Tucci Trooper” magnet. As mentioned above, I also received a digital pdf of the book, though I will always wait to receive the physical product before reading it. The digital copy was still appreciated, because now I can use it for some clean screen captures for use in this review!

Of those bonus items, the woodblock trading card was the standout bonus. While I don’t usually know what to do with the short stack of trading cards I’ve been receiving from crowdfunding campaigns, the gold shimmer effect is really cool, and it really does give the visual impression of a painted wood block. The vinyl sticker and magnet both appear to to be quality bonuses, though only the magnet has been put to use as decoration on my basement refrigerator. The logo sticker still lives inside the poly bag alongside the book.

Grade: B+

Zombie craves sashimi!

Overall, the Zombie-Sama! experience wasn’t a disappointment, but it wasn’t perfect. I would find it difficult to recommend the book except to those who remain strong fans of the zombie genre. I myself still enjoy zombie stories, but when the Zombie-Sama! 2 campaign kicks off, my experience with the first book isn’t going to be enough on its own to convince me to dive into the sequel. Tucci and co. will have to sell me on it all over again, and showcasing some new ideas will go a long way in doing just that. I can already see that Tucci has adjusted fire on how he communicates with backers, so the procedural stuff is moving in the right direction. A gold, woodcut-style cover would look pretty nice, too…

Overall Grade: B- (not an average)

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to check out more of our Festival of Dread content, go here.

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