What if Marvel Zombies invaded Earth but stopping them breaks the timeline & author Marsheila Rockwell comes to talk to us about it? From The Hunger: A Marvel Zombies Novel (2023) + SPECIAL INTERVIEW

Rob: I hope you're listening to us on Earbuds. So we're closer to your brave.
Marsheila Rockwell: And.
Rob: Welcome to Dear Watchers, an Omniversal comic book podcast where we do a deep dive into the multiverse.
Guido: We are traveling with you through the stories and the worlds that make up the omniverse of fictional realities we all crave. And and your watchers on this journey are me Ger AR Keto, and me, Rob Zombie. Okay, that works. That works well.
Rob: And now, before we begin today's trip, what's new in our little section of the multiverse?
Guido: Keto well, this is our first episode of October in 2023, so we are leaning into our favorite Spooky season this month and on this episode in particular. But that's not all, because in less than two weeks, we have New York Comic Con. When we're recording this, we are just less than two weeks away. And we can't wait because we're going to be recording special episodes from there. We're going to be seeing so many of our friends and listeners in person. And it's the most wonderful time of the year.
Rob: Yes, it is.
Guido: And today is an extra special interview, a step into a world we've never been to. And we'll tell you more about that in just a moment.
Rob: And if you're joining us for the first time, usually, we have three parts of our journey through the multiverse origins of the story, exploring multiversity, and pondering possibilities. But not Today is an interview episode, and we have tons of other past interviews you can go back and listen to, as well.
Guido: But we will be exploring origins, multiversity, and pondering possibilities with our guest. And remember, you can leave us a review, uh, wherever you are listening, and find us on all social media at Dear Watchers.
Rob: And with that Dear Watchers, welcome to episode 116, and let's check out what's happening in the Omniverse with our travels to today's alternate universe.
Marsheila Rockwell: You.
Rob: Today, we are on the hunt for brains to satisfy our hunger and to find out the answer to the question, what if Marvel Zombies invaded Earth, but trying to stop them breaks the timeline? An author, Marshila Rockwell, comes to talk to us about it. This is from The Hunger, a Marvel Zombies novel.
Guido: Yes. And we're going to give you a brief history on Marvel Zombies. But really to set up our feature today, which is a fantastic conversation with our returning guest and friend, author Marcy Rockwell. So, real quick, because we have never covered Marvel Zombies on this show before. Marvel Zombies debuts in comics in 2005. Mark Millar creates the world in Ultimate Fantastic Four. It's classified as Earth 21 49, where a zombie contagion hits the Earth. The Avengers are the first to succumb to it, and then it spreads, and our favorite heroes and villains are zombified. Later that year, there's a debut series by Robert Kirkman, of course, most famous for creating The Walking Dead. He's got a thing very known for Zombies and Sean Phillips. And one day we'll cover this series. But today is not that day because we have a brand new visit to the Marvel zombie concept franchise to discuss. But real quick, the concept stuck after the initial limited series, there is a prequel series, there are sequel series or five. Yes, there are actually five. There are one offs and minis, mostly in the same universe. There's a crossover with army of Darkness.
Rob: Even a different right, one of those.
Guido: Rare Marvel getting along with someone else moments. There's a Secret Wars battle world series, most recently. Actually currently, right now, while this episode is new, there is one of those monocolor series, black, white and something. It's black, white and blood. So that's an anthology set in the world and all colored, black, white and red the world shows up in some of the 6116 Black Panther books, the Deadpool books. There are manga and other offshoots that are not part of the prime zombies universe. There's even an issue of the official Marvel handbook on just the zombie world. So needless to say, this concept has been popular and so popular it's not limited to comics.
Rob: Yes. So what if season one, remember that it came out about ten years ago.
Guido: And it was also memorable.
Rob: Well, that used zombies, um, in episode five what if zombies, and then in 2021, it was greenlit as its own animated series to debut now in 2024, if that happens.
Marsheila Rockwell: Exactly.
Guido: Everything needs an asterisk in terms of media content.
Rob: And speaking of asterisks, Mark Millar claimed a live action film or TV show was in development, but that probably was wrong, isn't happening.
Guido: My guess is he was hearing about the animated series or just saying something to be provocative or whatever.
Rob: Yeah, we could of course imagine what that would mean and probably would be very expensive. And of course there is lots and, uh, lots and lots of merch action figures and statues and mini mates. We mentioned going to Comic Con. I always see tons of zombie stuff.
Guido: At Comic Con, cosplayers for sure.
Rob: Tons. Because who doesn't love a grotesque, dead, rotting version of your favorite character? It's true, the Hunger from Akonite books is subtitled a Marvel Zombies novel and is one of the few dozen Akonite tie in prose novels they have set in the Marvel universe. But the first that has Marvel Zombies concept in it. And the best of all, it's by our friend of the show, Marcy Rockwell.
Guido: So we don't want to waste too much more time before we get into our great conversation with Marcy, but Marsheela Rockwell is an author, editor, poet, writer of novels, short fiction, who has won a number of Scribe Awards, Dwarf Stars Awards, Riesling Awards, and more acclaim. She's written short fiction for many collections, full length novels, especially a lot of tie in novels, dungeons and Dragon tie ins, Video Game tie ins, Xena tie ins, part of an Evil Dead two comic. So she has touched on a lot of stuff we've covered. So you can see why we are always excited when we get to talk to her. She has an original novel called Seven Psychos with her husband and co author Jeff Marriott. And we actually talk a little bit about it in this conversation today. She was on last year episode 65 to talk about the sisters of Sorcery Marvel novel, also from Akonite, all about the witches of the Marvel universe. And we are excited that we're talking to her today about Marvel zombies.
Rob: But before we talk to Marcy, let's talk a little bit about our backgrounds with Marvel Zombies. So, Guido, what's your background with marvel zombies? And throwing a question at you. What's your favorite zombie movie or TP thing? Oh, gosh off the cuff.
Guido: I know. You know, I always need, like, a primer on what examples are, and then I'm like, oh, yeah, I have seen that. Uh, but I'll try. But first, marvel zombies. I've read the first series. I've read tiny bit of the follow up. I'm currently reading the Black, White and Blood. I don't like it. I, uh, don't dislike it. I don't have a problem with it. It just does not do it for me. Some of it might be in the original series, and we actually talk through this with Marcy that it's really gory. It's one of those things where it's like Kirkman just wanted to see a world where you could rip people apart and have characters eat each other and gorilly kill each other. And yet it's not considered too violent because it's zombies. So it sort of became an excuse, I think, for some gore. I have no problem with gore or that kind of thing, but it's not amusing to me. It's not interesting to me. And I didn't love the what if series as we've talked about on here. So I don't care that there's a Marvel Zombies show coming out. I think if they infuse a lot more humor into it, I could get into it. And again, I have no problem. And I'm all for the genre mashup, experimentation. This is not my thing. I did love one day we'll talk about the DC version of this deceased, but a lot of it has to do with the creative team that's by Tom Taylor, who I love and can almost do no wrong in my mind. And I don't have that same affinity for the creators who've worked on this for Marvel. So I'm familiar. I'm not a huge fan. Why don't you talk about Marvel Zombies so I can think of what zombie movies there are in the world?
Rob: Yes. So I'm really not super familiar with Marvel zombies. The first real introduction to them was actually that what if episode, though I had as I mentioned, I had seen them a ton at New York Comic Con. I feel like statues especially there's always a M million statues of a decaying hero in the torn tattered costumes. So I had seen them there and Cosplay. But really my main introduction to them was that what if episode, which I think had like two parts, right? Or they had a couple of parts to it. So you kind of got a little.
Guido: Bit all blended into one bland thing to me. So I don't really remember you got.
Rob: More in depth into that world than some of the other what if stories there.
Guido: All right. So, uh, you might remind me that I'm forgetting something that I love. But I think I'm going to have to say Shawn of the Dead.
Rob: That's a fun one.
Guido: I love 28 days. I think 28 Days is a really effective horror movie. I almost don't even see that as a zombie movie, though. It feels much more like an Outbreak movie to me, which is probably why I love it so much. Uh, but Shaun of the dead I love. I love the whole Cornetto trilogy. And it just made me love all of those creators and actors. And I think Shaun of the dead is great. So I'm going to go with Shaun of the Dead, though maybe something else.
Rob: Mentioned in our interview that that movie was an influence on her as well. And some of it pops up here in the book.
Guido: What is your favorite zombie thing?
Rob: Well, I love the original Romero Dead trilogy. Night, dawn. Day. They're so good. They're also very bleak.
Rob: They're not the kind of movies that.
Rob: You could just pop on and have a fun time with because they're very dark.
Guido: I don't know. I disagree about is it the second one? Dawn is in the mall.
Rob: In the mall.
Guido: I think that is a great, fun movie. I probably even like that more than Shaun of the Dead. I just agree. Like, I'm willing to watch Shaun of the Dead all the time. Dawn of the Dead or Day of the Dead, whichever that is. Dawn of the Dead I'm not willing to watch all the time. But it's a fun it's always fun. Oh, yeah.
Rob: But everyone basically dies. So I think the ones I'm more inclined to put on is Return of the Living Dead, which is so fun and fitting for this podcast because it's a little meta and multiversal. Because in that movie, both Night of the Living Dead actually occurred in real life and was a movie. So it plays with this kind of meta ness. And then I'd also throw in similar in the comedy horror vein is Reanimator, which is also basically a zombie.
Guido: Yeah, I guess it is.
Guido: That's, uh, the thing about zombie movies is zombies are I guess it's like vampires, too. They're multi genre in and of themselves. You can have comedic zombies. You can have scary zombies. You can have supernatural zombies. You can have science based zombies. So you can have so many different iterations.
Rob: And even then you have going back to voodoo with early movies like White Zombie, but then modern Sorcery and science and all these different things in between. Sometimes it's not even explained or plagues. So many different things.
Guido: So let's get into, uh, the latest installment in Marvel Zombies and our conversation with its creator, Marcy Rockwell.
Rob: Uh.
Rob: And risen from the grave, or should I say written from the grave, it's Marsheela Rockwell. Happy spooky season, Marcy.
Marsheila Rockwell: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. Happy spooky season. My favorite time of year. Oh, thank you. I'm so excited to be back. This is one of my favorite, um, podcasts to do, so it's great to see you guys again.
Guido: Well, as our longtime listeners know, you were on our show, Back Gosh. It was actually exactly a year ago. Did any of us realize that? Oh my gosh, october 3, 2022. So when this episode is coming out is when your episode came out last year.
Rob: Talk about plan.
Guido: That's some witchcraft right there. Um, but our listeners can go back and listen to episode 65 when we got to talk to you about your Marvel untold stories, sisters of Sorcery, and all of your work, which we're going to get into today, as well as a new project that is perfectly timed and we're excited to dig into with you. Mhm, thank you for coming. Marcy, you said this is your favorite time of year, which is, I think, Guido and mine as well. Do you have anything planned to celebrate? Like, how do you like to celebrate the Halloween, the Spooky season?
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, well, I just finished putting up Halloween decorations this morning.
Rob: Fun.
Marsheila Rockwell: So, uh, my family gets annoyed if I put them up too early. I would put them up like, September 1 if I could.
Guido: I fully support that.
Marsheila Rockwell: Mhm. I love the fall. I live in Arizona right now, so maybe there's a ten deg temperature difference. But I used to live I was born and raised in Montana. And there fall means crunchy leaves, uh, cool crisp air, you can smell the snow coming. It's just like my favorite time. It really makes me homesick. And of, uh, course, I love all of the spooky stuff that comes with it. Halloween is great. The candy, of course, but just the costume and all the horror movies that are on TV.
Guido: Yes, I know. We did our first haunted house of the season. We did last night. There was a new haunted attraction that opened up this year and we went through it and we love stuff like that at this time of year, too.
Marsheila Rockwell: That's exciting.
Rob: We'll be putting up our decorations this weekend, but we've got one of those ten foot skeletons, which is a bit of, uh, a task to do. It looks amazing, but you always have to kind of psych yourself up to actually get it. It's like Ikea furniture of Halloween decorations.
Marsheila Rockwell: My husband wants to get one of those, but I'm not sure that our HOA would gosh.
Rob: Yeah, probably not.
Guido: So, um, Marcy, you've also always had horrific things as a part of your work. And I know one of your huge projects was your original novel, Seven Psychos, that I think you worked on with Jeff, your husband. And that brings together a whole bunch of horror lore. So can you tell us more about that and what appeal zombies and witches and these things have for you?
Marsheila Rockwell: Well, Seven Psychos is a book that, as you said, I co wrote with my husband, who is also a writer, uh, Jeff Marriott. And he writes all kinds of stuff. He doesn't focus just on horror and fantasy like I do. But, um, this particular one is like horror thriller, near future science fiction. Um, and it's psychopaths versus zombies. So it's like the best of all the worlds because you have the true crime. People will love the, uh, neuropsychology. We get into what makes a psychopath nature versus nurture. And then you have the zombies, and you have a team of psychopaths who have to go in and get something from where the zombies, um, are, and the whole interactions between people who are completely lacking in empathy. And they're only doing this because there is a chance that if they survive, then their sentences will be commuted.
Guido: Cool.
Marsheila Rockwell: So it's not because they care about humanity or getting rid of the zombies or anything like that. They're doing it for purely selfish reasons. And getting to play with characters like that, I think, is really fun. Of course, they're not all like that, because you have to have somebody you can relate to, and hopefully most people can't relate to that complete lack of, you know, Jeff and I have both always been interested in, uh, psychopathy, know, the true crime, criminal minds kind of stuff. We have a whole, uh, bookcase just dedicated completely to, uh, criminology and psychology and FBI and police procedural, nonfiction kind of stuff. Just that whole genre. So it's, uh, something that we both really enjoy. Um, and then zombies.
Guido: It's such a fun genre. Mashup, too, because to take realistic horror, if you will, of criminals, uh, psychopathy, uh, police procedural and then mash that together with the supernatural horror of the.
Rob: Science and the supernatural kind of together. Which is interesting because some folks like Guido, you like the supernatural stuff, but you kind of shy away from some of the real world creepiness. Uh, so I think sometimes horror fans love everything. And then some people, it's like, oh, give me the ghost and the goblins, but keep me away from the real stuff. And other people are like, oh, I don't believe in ghosts and zombies. Those aren't real, but, like, love real serial killer stuff. So you're kind of putting it all together. Marcy yeah.
Marsheila Rockwell: Although our zombies are not supernatural in think, I think I'll leave it at that.
Guido: When did your love of horror start? As a fan?
Marsheila Rockwell: That is a good question. Um, I've always loved reading fantasy, so I was already kind of primed for supernatural stuff from the beginning. Um, I learned to read when I was three, and the first book I remember reading is Osma of Oz. And Osma was a witch. They never referred to her as a witch in the books, but she does magic. Um, they might have called her a you know, she was clearly a right, right from the get go. You have the magic, you have that kind of supernatural kind of stuff. And then, um, my brother was really into Robert E. Howard and Lovecraft, so probably far too Young was reading Conan and, uh, the Cthulhu books, and they just kind of sink into your young, impressionable brain. And it's cool, I want to do that. Stephen King um, I saw the televised version or television version of Salem's Lot when it first came out. They, um, used to show that kind of stuff in primetime television, which they would not do today. But it fascinated and terrified me. And there are certain scenes from that, uh, that I still have nightmares about. Uh.
Guido: Can you talk more about the fascination part?
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, I mean, I like, obviously I like the witches, powerful women wielding magic to make a difference in the world. And there's a lot of reasons for that. Sometimes it's just because they're doing good, but a lot of times it's because they're fighting the patriarchy. This is the only way they have to make a difference. This is the only power that they can wield. Right. I think that has to appeal on some level to most women or people who identify as female, because we obviously don't have equal power in our society. So witchcraft would be a way of kind of leveling things out. Um, but then horror as just a genre in and of itself, um, you know, I'm pretty open about the fact that I had a pretty crappy childhood growing up, and books were my escape. And one of the things about horror is you have these characters going through these horrific situations, but almost all of the books, unless you're doing like, the grim, dark kind of thing, or that one particular version of the mist that is horrible and makes you anyway, we won't talk about that because that was very bad. But somebody survives. There's a final girl, right, and who doesn't identify with the final girl. You want to be the one who can go through all of that and survive. Right. So I think it's the element of hope and the idea that no matter what you face, no matter how bad it is, horror, um, gives you a chance to see how bad it can really get, and that people can still get through it. So you mhm can still get through.
Guido: It and can develop, uh, a sense of your own power and your agency, which is really powerful in narrative to be able to see that, hey, I can be powerful too. I think what you're saying resonates so much with me as a queer horror fan. I remember last year when we were watching Rob, that ah, documentary about the queer history of horror on Shudder, which was a fantastic docu series, that sort of theme came out that it's all about survival. And so anyone who's marginalized there's a great documentary also about specifically black experiences and black identity in horror. And I think anyone who has any marginalization in society can really quickly step into horror and feel a sense of being seen, which is incredibly yeah, yeah.
Rob: It'S making me think too. Marcy, you mentioned, uh, one of the Oz books being such a foundational text for you, guido and I just saw The Wizard of Oz on the big screen just a couple of weeks ago with an orchestra and I was thinking that's probably the movie I've seen the most in my life. And I feel like kids can be divided into you found the witch scary, or you found the witch to be fabulous and you love the witch. And uh, I think it's also the movie. My theory is that it's probably the movie most Americans have. Like I don't know if there's a movie that more Americans have seen than The Wizard of Oz.
Rob: And I'm thinking it's also that foundational text.
Rob: Like you were also just saying about the final girl. That's what Dorothy is.
Rob: She is the final girl.
Rob: She goes through this and Guido, you were saying about finding that power within herself and that's what the whole thing is. In the end of wizard of Oz, you have the power the entire time. So that movie, even though we don't think of it as a horror, I think it's for so much of us, it has that building blocks of our future love of horror that can be in the wizard of Oz and the Oz uh, universe as a whole.
Marsheila Rockwell: Oh yeah, that movie, I think the first time I saw it on TV, it was very scary. The monkeys, I mean, young kids seeing and even the witch with that laugh. I mean, come on, I'll get you. My mean, who wouldn't be terrified by that as a young kid? And she threatens the dog. I m mean, come on.
Guido: What are the movies, Marcy, that you return to in the horror genre? What are the things that even if you don't watch them every year, you could.
Marsheila Rockwell: Well, Halloween, the original John Carpenter's Halloween, and that's one that I still have nightmares about. And I uh, know why too, because when I was watching it, I still remember this very clearly. There's the part where, um, Jamie Lee Curtis thinks that she has killed him. Mhm, and they're upstairs and she know, trying to corral the kids to go downstairs. And I think Tommy's like, are we okay? And she's like, yes, we're okay. I killed him. And Tommy goes, you can't kill the boogeyman. And in the background, you see Jason sit up or not Jason Michael sit, uh, up and look at them. And Tommy's like, and there he is. And just at that moment, my stepdad at the time came up behind me and poked me in the sides and scared me half to death. That's imprinted on my brain forever.
Guido: That moment, obviously.
Marsheila Rockwell: Uh, so that one just like I have to watch just because it just is imprinted on me. And for better or for worse. Um, and then, um, the Craft, obviously, I can't let Halloween go by without watching at least part of, um, um.
Guido: Rob has never seen it.
Rob: No, I've never seen I'm planning on.
Guido: Changing that for him this year.
Marsheila Rockwell: Yes, definitely.
Guido: It's amazing to me. He's just, I guess, a little too.
Marsheila Rockwell: Young to enjoy it. The original. You have to say the original, not the remake. Although I didn't think the remake was bad, honestly. I know a lot of people did not like it. But, uh, I thought that it wasn't bad for what it was trying to do.
Rob: And Balk was in return to Oz. So there's an Oz connection.
Marsheila Rockwell: Again, there you.
Guido: In are there texts that stand out to you as I don't want to call them your favorite horror texts, but maybe the things that imprinted on you as a horror text. Was it some of those lovecraft or some of the Stephen King, or is there something that stands out to you?
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, well, salem Slaughter Again by Stephen King.
Guido: Um, because is that a short story or a novel? I don't know what the text it's based on is.
Marsheila Rockwell: There is a short story originally, and then I, um, believe that there then is also the book, but there was originally a short story that tied into that whole mythos of the town is called Jerusalem's Lot. Uh, um, and then it I always really liked it, except for the last part of the book that nobody ever wants to talk about because it's really squeaky. So if you ignore the last part of the book, um, everything up to that point, I think is great.
Rob: My Salem's Lot was watching it on TV and being terrified until it gets to the end. And then it's like, everything up to now was so much scarier than this.
Marsheila Rockwell: You know, Stephen King is a great writer, but sometimes I think he has a little problem sticking the far be it for me to criticize the guy who makes millions, but I don't think I'm the only person who thinks that the, um, Shining. Although I have to say that's probably more the movie than the book, because, um, one of the reasons I eventually stopped reading King was because there's a lot of build up in detail in the book that a lot of people like. But that for me, I like my horror to be to read a little faster because not so fast that you can't build up atmosphere and tension. But not so slow that I forget why I'm supposed to be scared. Right. Sometimes I find that there's a little bit too much of and every Gen Xer who is into horror at this know Stephen King was the gateway. So. And we all read him when we were far too young, um, to have done so.
Guido: Yeah, well, he surely did so much for the popularization of the genre in both books and movies and TV. So really across the spectrum. Um, and then you've written about zombies. And the project we're going to get into that's out this week is about zombies. Where does your relationship to zombies begin in your love of horror? Is it with Night of the Living Dead like some people? Or White Zombie going even further back? Or where is your zombie love?
Marsheila Rockwell: Probably, uh, evil dead. Yeah. I think I've only ever seen parts of Night of the Living Dead. And I haven't seen any of the ones that came after. So I guess it makes me they're going to revoke my horror fan card. Sorry. Um, I like a lot of the, uh, zombie horror movies. Uh, Shawn of the Dead, and, uh, those kind of movies.
Guido: So those are all comedic zombie movies. Do you like the more serious? Like, do you like 28 Days? Or is that less your thing?
Marsheila Rockwell: Oh, yeah, 28 Days was good. Um, I did watch The Walking Dead for many seasons until it just got to be too much, too violent. It lost the horror element somewhere along the way and just became, I don't know, gratuitous, which I didn't enjoy. I know a lot of people did. And I might give the spin off with Daryl Dixon a try because, um, who doesn't like? Um, I've been, uh, my family went to Europe at the end of June and I caught COVID. And I flew our trip back. Wound up being like 27 hours altogether. And I did that trip with COVID and it kind of knocked out my immune system. So I've been sick with one thing or another pretty much up till now. So I have been binge watching all 15 seasons of Supernatural. They have some zombies in there.
Guido: Yeah, they have everything. Every form of supernatural. I watched the first few years of that show and really enjoyed it a lot. I always imagine if I had an enormous amount of time and wanted content to fill it, supernatural would be a good choice.
Rob: Uh, and we interviewed one of the writers of Supernatural as Megan Fitzmartin, right?
Marsheila Rockwell: Oh, yeah.
Rob: Worked on connection there.
Marsheila Rockwell: It's fun. Um, my kids, uh, have even kind of seen enough of it that my youngest is like, I like Castiel. I want a Castiel pop for Christmas. I.
Guido: Like Castiel too.
Rob: Well, it's important to have those, like, kind of going back to The Wizard of Oz. It's important to have those introductory things into horror where it's not so scary. My parents always actually had me watch the universal horror movies as a kid because scary nowadays. But it's a good kind of way to get in. I feel like Supernatural is a great way to do that. And your book, too. And Marvel zombies. And these are all kind of great ways to get into horror even more.
Marsheila Rockwell: Yeah.
Guido: So you're the new Stephen King Martin. Let's talk about The Hunger, a Marvel zombies novel, which is a new book out the week that this episode is coming out, this first week of October 2023 from Akonite Books, who have done a lot of the Marvel tie ins and a lot of the books we've talked about on past episodes with you or with, uh, our mutual friend Carrie Harris. And so tell us how The Hunger came about.
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, well, I really enjoyed working with Charlote, uh, llewellyn on Sisters of Sorcery. And she wanted to work with me on something else. And then this opportunity came up. And I had been pitching other stories with my first book with them, Sisters of Sorcery was Witches. And I have been pitching more witch stories with them because me. Um, but, ah, the opportunity came up. They decided that they were going to do, uh, books based off of the Marvel Zombies comics. Um, and they knew that I do a lot of horror short stories, poetry, and obviously the book Seven Psychos. And so they thought I would be perfect to write the first book for what was essentially a new horror line for them. To be perfectly honest, it isn't a project I probably would have pitched for M. Um, but when they came to me and said, hey, would you like to write the first book in this new line? I'm like, who's going to say no to that? Right? So, um, yeah, it just kind of fell in my lap, which is nice. That doesn't happen often.
Guido: No. And I'm assuming you ended up enjoying getting to do it and getting to be in the world of Marvel Horror through zombies. What's something that you enjoyed about that world and being able to play with Marvel Zombies?
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, well, I got to be darker than I was. Darker and bloodier than you, uh, usually can be in the, uh, Akonite Marvel books. Um, and in fact, when I sent in my first draft, that was some of the comments that came back from Marvel was like, don't you think this could be a little gorier.
Guido: Okay, wow.
Marsheila Rockwell: You want blood? I'll give you blood. Wow.
Guido: Yeah. Fun to hear. Not you usually imagine it's going to go in right.
Rob: I was going to think like, oh, they would even have to be pulling you back. And how do you then decide to even when you're working on that, like, how far do you go? Or is that something that you're kind of like looking for notes from Marvel or your editor on?
Marsheila Rockwell: Well, I figured generally tie in work, at least the tie in work that I've done is a PG 13 audience. So although the Marvel Zombies comic books definitely would be an R audience, um, but since all of the other, uh, Marvel Akonite books had pretty much been PG 13, that's the standard that I went with. Um, even though the source material was R rated, um, but they wanted me to push it further, so I didn't have a problem with that.
Guido: And so you, I imagine, read the Marvel Zombies and the follow up series. You also mentioned you watched all the what if episodes to see. Uh, how was that experience? Were you already familiar with them, or was this your first time getting exposed to that?
Marsheila Rockwell: Um I knew they existed. Um, I was surprised with how graphic they were, honestly, because that's not usually something that you see in m Marvel Comics at See. You can see some of that in, um, some of the more indie labels that focus on just horror. But I was surprised and even, um, uh, Ralph Macchio and some of the writers who were in the project doing the project were surprised at how far Marvel let them go. I think I was, uh, reading, um, and I'm sorry, I'm having a brain fart. I can't remember the name of the writer right now, so forgive me. Um, but I read his, um, little editorial comments at the beginning of the comic, and he was like, yeah, I just kept putting this stuff in. And I was sure that they were going to tell me, this is too much. No, you've gone too far. You've crossed the line. And they never did. So, I mean, that gives any of the, uh, listeners an idea of what to expect if they haven't read those comics.
Guido: And the writer is the creator of The Walking Dead.
Marsheila Rockwell: Yes. Robert Kirkman. Thank you so much.
Guido: Of course.
Marsheila Rockwell: Like, I was thinking, Kirk. Is that his first name? Last name? So I apologize, Robert. Um.
Guido: Doing your research for your own project, you brought in, first of all, of course, witches. You brought in time travel. You brought in a lot of fun elements. Like, how did you decide where you were going to go with this?
Marsheila Rockwell: Well, a lot of the story elements were things that, um, the editors at Akonite and at Marvel kind of suggested that they wanted to see. So I needed to find a way to weave all of those things together that made sense in comic continuity, which honestly was a lot harder than I think they maybe realized when they asked me to do it. Um, but I think I was able to do it. It required a lot of research, a lot of reading. Um, and when I write tie in work, I do that anyway. I feel like I really need to know, um, everything. So, um, there's a lot of reasons for that. I want to be true to the material. Um, I don't want to miss any opportunities to tie stuff in or little cool little gems that I can add in there. Easter eggs for people. And also, like, the fan base, right? If you get something wrong, they're going to let you know. So the less of that I can get that I can minimize up, uh, front by doing my research, the better. Yeah, I read all the comics m of all the comics. There's a lot of them that tie in that aren't just that story arc. Um, and like you said, the what ifs. And then I read a ton of the comics, um, about the characters who are in there that aren't part of the Marvel zombies comic.
Guido: Like Elsa bloodstone. Perhaps Elsa protagonist in your book.
Marsheila Rockwell: Yes, I've read a lot of Elsa. I read a lot of, um, nico Menoru from the Runaways mhm. Um, and I had already watched the Runaway series on, um, um, disney disney Hulu. Uh, but the TV version is not the same as the comics version. Right. So I have to be true to the comics version. Um, but it still informs you because it's not like the TV versions are completely different. Um, except for maybe in the case of know, agatha Harkness was a character in my first book, Sisters of Sorcery. And in the comics she's an old woman, or she presents herself as an old woman. Obviously, she's a centuries old witch and could present herself any way she chose to. Um, and I address that in the book, actually. But in WandaVision she's a young woman. Catherine Hahn um, that's something when people ask me about I always wanted to dress because I didn't want them to expect to see a young woman in the role in the comic book. But for the most part, the TV shows and even the movies are fairly true to the source material. Um, so yeah, I read a lot of Elsa, um, Nico. I did not read every Deadpool. Yeah, I would still be reading and would not have finished the book yet if I had done that. Um, but I had already seen the Deadpool movies and I had read some Deadpool in the past and he's a pretty easy character to kind of get a handle on. Um, but I also try to figure out what makes him tick on a deeper level as much as you can figure out what makes him tick on a deeper level because sometimes it seems like there is no deeper level with him. There is. It's just really messed up. Um, but I don't want any of my characters ever to just be two dimensional or a pastiche or whatever. I want them all to feel like real people, even somebody who's ostensibly just there for laughs. And hopefully I did that with this book. Um, honestly, that was one of the things I was really worried about is I know Deadpool has a ton of fans, and not having read every Deadpool comic in existence, I was worried that I might not portray him the way that fans are used to seeing him. But I think I did okay. The editors were happy with it. I guess they should know.
Rob: And was that your choice? To weave in that humor as well? Because zombies sometimes can be super serious, like The Walking Dead. There's not a lot of humor in that world. But I like Return of Living Dead is one of my favorite movies, and that's like a zombie comedy. Or Shaun of the dead. You mentioned zombie comedy. So did you want to have that light tone also sprinkled in throughout?
Marsheila Rockwell: Well, I always like snarky characters because I'm really snarky myself. I don't think I've ever written a book that didn't have a snarky character in it, at least one, uh, because I just can't help myself. Um, so the opportunity to have Deadpool and Elsa Bloodstone and even Nico, really, um.
Guido: Great examples of people who have that great personality.
Marsheila Rockwell: Yeah, they all have a good measure of snark in, um, them. Um, it wasn't necessarily like, oh, I want to add a lighter tone to this to kind of offset the heaviness. It was just how these characters would be. So it wasn't like a planned out thing. It was just trying to be true to the characters.
Rob: Mhm yeah. And that tone is so also inherent in Marvel characters in general, too. So I think it's core to marvel, even if there's zombies or wherever you.
Rob: Are in.
Marsheila Rockwell: And we haven't talked about the lead character, who is arguably my favorite, which is thelma Stanton. And, um, just like in Sisters of Sorcery, where I dug up a character who was literally in six comics back in the 60s, um, Holly LaDonna Zelma has been in way more comics than that, but still, a lot of people have no idea who she is. So the opportunity to make her be like, one of the main characters, main viewpoint characters, that was awesome because she's like, the best of all the world. She's a witch and she's a librarian, so she gets all the books and all the magic. Who wouldn't want to be zomba? Stanton I don't know.
Rob: You dedicated the book to librarians, too, which I loved. And I think so much of us I think I'm sure all three of us would say, oh, librarians were kind of those witches growing up where you got to be friends with them. I'm sure we were all the kind of types that would become friends with the librarian. And then they'd slip you the one book where it's like, oh, this might be a little more advanced for you, but I know you can handle it. And they were kind of sprinkling their little witchcraft over us and letting us know, oh, here's what you really need to kind of get into. So I love that kind of connection there.
Marsheila Rockwell: Yeah, definitely. Exactly what you just said. My, uh, elementary school librarian was like, that, um, a funny story. I could not remember her name. And, like, I asked all of my elementary school classmates that I'm still in touch with, uh, if they could remember her name, and they couldn't. So my husband actually is friends with a librarian in the public library of the school, uh, or the school the city where I went to school. So he asked that librarian if he could look it up, try to find it. And he found the, um, it wasn't like a yearbook because they didn't really do elementary school yearbooks back then. But he found a staff picture that had her in it and sent it to me. And I'm like, oh, my God, that's her. That's her name. It was just, like, so cool to be able to see her face again.
Guido: What a moment.
Marsheila Rockwell: Yeah.
Guido: And what a tribute.
Guido: I love that.
Guido: So as we wrap up our conversation, I'm wondering if there's someone listening who's never read anything marvel Zombies. Why start here? I think your book is the place to start. Uh, can you tell people why they should consider Marvel Zombies? What they'd get out of it?
Marsheila Rockwell: Well, it's different from the comics. Um, so if you don't want something that's like, super gory, um, then it would probably be a better place to start. Um, honestly, the one thing about Marvel Zombies that a lot of things I read people didn't necessarily care for was that the heroes were the zombies, right? And so you were watching a lot of the heroes do unheroic things, and a lot of people don't like that. They want their heroes to be heroes. So in my book, the heroes at least the heroes of the book do heroic things, right? So even spoiler alert, even the zombies, the hero zombies do heroic things. Like, there's lots of other superhero zombies who don't necessarily do heroic things, but the ones that the book focuses on, you get your heroes. So you're not going to get that with the, uh, comic. That's the big difference. If I had written it, but the book was out there and I wanted to read something Marvel Zombies, then that would be my choice, hands down, because I want my heroes, even if they're a little morally gray, that's cool. But I still want them to make the right choice most of the time.
Guido: Mhm, I love that because it ties back to what you love in horror. You were describing earlier is people who are making good choices and who you can identify with and in their quest. And this is such a great way of doing it with zombies.
Marsheila Rockwell: I mean, if you're going to eat flesh, I guess that's a choice. Not necessarily. Good one. But I don't know where I was going with that. Sorry.
Guido: So our listeners can find your book anywhere.
Guido: Books are sold.
Guido: It's everywhere. It's online, it's in bookstores, it's out digitally, it's out in print, paperback, copy. It's, uh, The Hunger a Marvel zombies novel from Akonite books. Where else can people find you, Marcy? What else do you have going on that people can look for? How about Seven Psychos? Where they can find that? Tell us all that.
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, Seven Psychos is probably only available on Amazon at this point. Um, it came out in 2016. Um, but you should still be able to order it off Amazon and probably other, uh, retailers, too, but you won't find it in the bookstore. Um, and there are print and ebook versions, so whatever your preference there. Um, as far as me and the stuff I'm doing, um, I have a website. It's Marshilarockwell.com. Marsheila. And then Rockwell is just like it sounds. Um, and like, I'm on most of the social media I'm still on. Yeah, until they try to make me start paying for it. Um, I have a link tree, uh, on my about maybe it's on my contact page, on my web page, and it has all of my socials on there. So, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, um, blue sky. I think I'm on blue sky now. Try Mastodon. I have an account there, but I never do anything over there. And I can't get TikTok to work because I'm an old. My kids just laugh at me. But I do have an account there. Not doing much with it because I can't figure it out.
Guido: But we're the same. We're the same. Um, all right, well, our listeners should definitely find you, and we'll have to come up with a reason why one year from now, we'll have to have.
Marsheila Rockwell: You back yet again.
Rob: Exactly.
Guido: This will be an annual October.
Rob: Vampires maybe tradition.
Rob: Vampires, the vampires, werewolves. There's many other things out there.
Marsheila Rockwell: There is, but the book that I probably would be talking about is the one I'm working on right now with my agent, which is a witch book.
Guido: Uh, that's all right. We can always return to Witches.
Marsheila Rockwell: Yes, they're my favorite.
Rob: Well, these two psychos always love talking to you.
Guido: Thank you, Marcy.
Marsheila Rockwell: Oh, yeah, thank you so much for having me, you guys. I really appreciate it. And I hope you have a wonderful October and all the exciting things that you guys have going on. I hope it all goes super well for you. And happy spooky season.
Rob: And with that, this episode is dead.
Guido: And buried and not coming back. No. Well, I guess we could be a zombie coming back. Yeah. Or you could go listen to it again and then it's kind of the.
Guido: Zombie version of it.
Rob: Well, that was such a great start to our Spooky Season. Talking to Marcy and our exploration of zombies. I can't wait for more Spooky season programming. And be sure to pick up a copy of The Hunger to read this October.
Guido: Yes, and as we mentioned last week, we are in our final giveaway. We have been for a long time celebrating our 100 episodes 16, uh, episodes ago. But our giveaway last week is so big, so many signed books, we're going to give you an extra week. So if you are listening to this episode and skipped last week and you want the chance to win a whole bunch of signed comics, go listen to last week episode 115, Laracoft Tomb Raider. Figure out how you can raid our tombs of comics and get that treasure.
Rob: And at least one horror comic in there. So perfect for your October.
Guido: Yeah.
Guido: So dear watchers. Thank you for listening. I have been gurg gido.
Rob: And I have been rob zombie.
Guido: The reading list is in the show notes. You can follow us on all social media at dear watchers. And follow Marcy online, of course, too.
Rob: And leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. We'll be back soon with another trip through the multiverse.
Guido: In the meantime, in the words, we want to keep pondering the possibilities and brains.

Creators and Guests

working in education, background in public health, lover of: collecting, comics, games, antiques, ephemera, movies, music, activism, writing, and on + on...
Queer Nerd for Horror, Rock N Roll and Comics (in that order). Co-Host of @dearwatchers a Marvel What If and Omniverse Podcast
Marsheila Rock-HELL the Word Witch ✍🏼🔮🔪 & ♿️♈️
Marsheila Rock-HELL the Word Witch ✍🏼🔮🔪 & ♿️♈️
Award-nominated SFFH author/poet, Chippewa/RR Métis, cancer🎗/proud 🏳️‍⚧️ mom, married to @jeffmariotte, Husker 🏈 fan, maybe a 🧙🏼‍♀️? BQ = GENOCIDE. She/her
What if Marvel Zombies invaded Earth but stopping them breaks the timeline & author Marsheila Rockwell comes to talk to us about it? From The Hunger: A Marvel Zombies Novel (2023) + SPECIAL INTERVIEW
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