Published on April 4th, 2016 | by B. Alex Thompson
A Retrospective of Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies PART 2
A Retrospective of
Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies
Hazed & Confused – Issues #5-8 & Extra Credit #2
Well, hello there! If you’re new here, let me introduce myself… I’m B. Alex Thompson. I write comic books of various genres, but my longest running series is an Action/Horror-Comedy called “Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies.” What started as a joke with some friends back in 2006 (see the first Retrospective on Volume 1 for more information) became a series I’m still doing nearly a decade later!
In this second retrospective, we will be looking at the five issues that make up the potentially controversial Volume 2 of the series (and you can buy a print copy right here). “Potentially controversial,” you might ask? “Yeah,” I’d answer. I mean, Volume 1 has its detractors for the overt sexuality and graphic violence. But what else would one expect from a series with a subtitle like, “Sorority Girls vs. Zombies?!”
But being a creator who likes to push the envelope, I might have overreached with this section of the series. Being a newer writer, some of my attempts at edgy humor to bring awareness to social problems didn’t land for every reader as I intended. Where I dipped my toes into the concept of writing comedy/humor in issues #1-4, I jumped into the deep end to test the boundaries with issues #5-8. With the mixture of acclaim and backlash I got from those issues, it helped me find the happy medium and how to move the series forward.
Are you still interested in hearing more after that introduction? Either you’re a glutton for punishment or you’re the kind of person that this arch was written for (maybe a combination of the two, you fellow deviant!)! In any case, let’s continue the swimming pool references and dive on in!
Issue Synopsis: With dawn only a few hours away, the girls try to take refuge from a zombie horde within an abandoned house. To their pleasant surprise, the survivors of the “Alpha Zeta Zeta” sorority are doing the same thing! The emotional reunion is quickly cut short when massive slasher “Kurtis Kasey: The Body Snatcher” threatens to kill them all! The girls barricade themselves in the house only to discover too late that this particular house is alive, possessed, and hungry for their souls!
Issue Retrospective: Oh, man… the first issue of the volume is probably the most controversial issue of the group! So after experimenting with humor in the first four issues, I wanted to see how far I could take things along with possibly putting a humorous spin on social injustices. My sense of humor is pretty broad, but I tend to prefer comedy on the edgy side of things. I saw an opportunity by bringing the Black “Alpha Zeta Zeta” sorority survivors back into the series. My intention was to show the absurdity of racism and how it’s usually portrayed within the horror genre. Being a neophyte writer, some of the issue’s race related jokes didn’t come across to some readers as well as I would’ve liked. For anyone just discovering the series, I hope you’re able to see the intent and can still laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.
Favorite Panel or Gag: Going to a more sexual spectrum, I pushed the envelope a little with an Evil Dead “tree rape” parody. The outrage about this scene cracks me up as there isn’t any nudity or penetration shown! Anything lewd happens between the panels and inside the reader’s own potentially sexually welcoming or repressed mind!
Issue Synopsis:With both Brittany and Paige possessed, the “safe” house trying to eat everyone, and slasher Kurtis Kasey trying to cut his way inside, Jamie and the “Alpha Zeta Zeta” girls find themselves in a bit of a rough spot! With no other choice, they have to break the “no splitting up” horror rule to find the book that could possibly exorcise the demon spirits.
Issue Retrospective: With all the serious set up out of the way, we have more room to have a bit more fun within this issue. But if we didn’t piss off enough people with issue #5, this issue probably doesn’t help things as we further show how terrible the men in this series tend to be. Who in their right mind would accept the aggressively sexual advances of a demon possessed sorority girl? Personally I wouldn’t risk it, but the guys in this issue give it a whirl.
The pop culture parodies come fast & furious within this issue, so readers who love those enjoyed issue #6 for the most part. We tackled a few more general horror tropes and tossed in a few more race-related jokes to wrap the section up (to the delight or annoyance of some readers… your mileage may vary).
Favorite Panel or Gag: For early 2016, I’m mostly amused by a fed up Janisha using her own brute strength in an attempt to force the demon out of Brittany. It’s a fun scene, but it’s funnier to me as the upcoming Ghostbusters movie released a trailer with a similar gag. I wrote this back in like 2005 and it was printed around 2008…so it’s nice that despite all the comedy missteps I took in these early issues that at least this one humorous gem was ahead of its time.
Issue Synopsis:If Kurtis Kasey: The Body Snatcher wasn’t enough already, the girls face a new slasher:” Mikhail the Meat Man!”
Issue Retrospective: With this issue we’re going to take a quick peek behind the comic creation curtain and show how you have to be quick on your feet when creative problems are thrown your way. Kurtis Kasey wasn’t the originally intended slasher for issues #5 and #6. That slasher was supposed to be Mikhail the Meat Man. I tried sketch after sketch, but I just couldn’t get the design for his character down. So when it was time for the book to be drawn by the sequential artist, my good friend Ant’juanAvri allowed me to use his slasher character for the series. That took care of issues #5 and #6, but I still needed to introduce Mikhail early as he plays large parts in the later sections of the series.
After finally settling on a design I could tolerate, I came up with a new story that would introduce Mikhail to the series. But by then we were already too along into the series to reveal the character as intended.
That’s when the side Extra Credit series was born! With this new side series, I could interject stories that take place between issues already published or scheduled within the regular series. In the TPB collections, I could just slide the Extra Credit issue in where it’s supposed to take place for easier reading!
So though Mikhail didn’t appear in the series as originally intended, his story is added to continuity around the correct time… and it works. I hope you guys agree!
Favorite Panel or Gag: Though this is a bit of a spoiler, my favorite scene is Paige coming to terms with her ex-boyfriend Roger who was turned into a zombie to dramatic effect back in issue #1. Not much narration needed… I think the dialogue says it all.
Issue Synopsis:The girls take refuge in another house after discovering a flyer saying it was a safe haven from the zombies. A safe haven?In this series? Are you kidding?! Facing Kurtis Kasey, the U.S. military, and introducing Winky the One-Eyed Monster!
Issue Retrospective: Even from early on, I wanted each issue of the series to be “new reader friendly.” So with that in mind, each new issue was a “soft reboot,” especially arcs with multiple parts. This issue goes back to the fun and random silliness of the first four issues that readersin general seemed to enjoy more.
That said, during these issues I was starting to become bored of zombies as the story menace. Yeah, I said it. In a book with “zombies” in the title, I struggled personally to shove zombies into the story! But that’s one of the great things about zombie stories… they don’t always have to be in the forefront of each tale. They can be a presence looming in the background to give a subtle feeling of danger no matter what the main story is.
This main story happens to hinge around a slasher fight between Kurtis Kasey and a massive pink creature called “Winky the One-Eyed Monster.” The reason why this series is billed as a “story intended for people with a special inclination for mature (yet immature) spoof comedy” should be painfully obvious in that one sentence, lol.
Favorite Panel or Gag: One of my favorite things about the Chaos Campus series is how the girls bicker back and forth with their conflicting personalities. When I first started my writing career, one of my biggest problems from reviewers was my “stilted dialogue.” Now years later in my writing career, dialogue is one of the things I’m usually praised for as a strong suit. I’d have to credit the Chaos Campus series for giving me ample room to practice and improve my characterization and dialogue.
Issue Synopsis:Evil Paige aka “Tess Raven” toys with Britt and Jamie’s inner insecurities before threatening to kill them. Between her unlimited powers and the demon “Winky the One-Eyed Monster” under her control, our heroic duo are at a serious disadvantage! Wait, what’s this…? Kurtis Kasey to the rescue?!
Issue Retrospective: They say that confession is good for the soul and this is a site about comics for sinners. So since we’re like-minded individuals, I feel like I’m able to reveal some of me odd quirks to you without judgement. One of those quirks is that I’ve always been obsessed with twins. Maybe it’s because my maternal grandmother was a twin and that latched on at an early age. At school, I’d seek out twins befriend them. In works of fiction, the “evil twin” or “alternate universe doubles” captured my attention and imagination. So you’d better believe that if I’m doing my own stories, especially ones as silly and random as Chaos Campus, there’s going to be some twin action involved.
It was a fun time as a creator watching how the evil version of Paige would use everything she knows about her friends to psychologically demean them before going after them physically. It’s such a deliciously evil tactic that also gave us a bit more information about our main characters.
Favorite Panel or Gag: Today’s top spot goes to Brittany and Tess using our slashers in a Pokemon parody. It’s so deliciously absurd, yet still insanely funny at the same time! Only in a series like Chaos Campus can you experience randomness to this degree and yet somehow it still works for amusement’s sake!
So there you have it!
Laughter and humor are ways to deal with serious issues in our lives. For better or worse, this volume tries to tackle a gambit of social issues from race relations, sexuality, body shaming, gender bias, classism, and more. I hope that as a reader, you’re able to look past the ham-fisted misfires in this slightly bungled volume to see the intended humor. Maybe it can change your outlook on someone else’s struggles. Maybe it can help you get through tough times in your own life. Lofty goals for a silly funny-book, I know. But one can hope and try, right?
Thanks for reading and until next time, I hope you ENJOY the FUN side of a zombie apocalypse!