Xombie: Dead on Arrival
It has become cliché to say that technology is moving faster than ever. One only need to point to the ubiquity of Kindles, Nooks, and iPads as reading platforms for books, platforms that didn’t exist until five years ago. Just two years ago, Amazon announced that ebooks had begun to outsell paperback books. The internet in particular evolves at ridiculous speed. I remember waiting twenty or thirty minutes for a crude Flash game to load in the early 2000s. It was going a little slower than usual and I definitely left the computer and came back to it, but today I would never have the patience for that. If a page takes more than ten seconds to load, I stop and refresh because I’m positive it must be broken. It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come, especially for someone like me, who never experienced the internet in the heyday of BBSs and pre-GUI interfaces. Nevertheless, I still have fond memories of what I like to think of as the early days of the internet, when pop-up ads were rampant and Flash cartoons where still in their infancy. In the early 2000s, many of the cartoons were crudely drawn and animated, partly due to technical limitations and partly due to the lack of experience many of the budding cartoonists. Websites like Newgrounds gave young artists a chance to share their work and it wasn’t long before internet animation began to flourish; if you haven’t seen the Peanut Butter Jelly Song or the Star Wars Gangsta Rap, you’re too young to remember this era. Some great cartoons were made, but few have stood the test of time like Xombie: Dead on Arrival.
For those of you not in the know, Xombie is a Flash series started in 2003 about a little girl, Zoe, who befriends a sentient zombie named Dirge. Zoe wakes up on a beach with no knowledge of how she got there. When she’s attacked by a horde of zombies, Dirge rescues her, dispatching all the zombies with his weapon of choice, a shovel. Together, with Dirge’s faithful, zombie dog Cerberus, Dirge and Zoe make their way across an abandoned city, fighting off zombie hordes and stranger creatures in an effort to return Zoe to the nearest human settlement. Along the way, Zoe has flashbacks revealing how she got to the beach and we learn more about Dirge and why he can think out of all the other mindless zombies.
Even though the cartoon is nearly ten years old, the art and animation are still very slick. Although there are a few things that look rough now, such as the use of standard walking animations, overall the cartoon has aged well because it’s so beautifully polished, and it’s hard to fault time saving techniques like the standard walking when the whole thing was drawn and animated by one man, James Farr. Aside from the still stellar art, the story is also a perfect blend of cool action sequences, serious drama, and dark comedy that gives it mass appeal. There have long been talks of making a feature-length Xombie movie, and I think this is the kind of cartoon that could make a splash if it was given that chance. The Flash series has already been translated to an illustrated book and a comic book series that picks up where the series leaves off, so here’s hoping for the best. If you like the idea of a cute little girl teaming up with shovel-wielding zombie badass and his zombie dog, you can find the series on Netflix and on Youtube.