Not only is George Romero considered the godfather of horror and creator of the modern zombie, he’s also a longtime member of the Zombie Research Society Advisory Board! While celebrating his seminal classic Dawn of the Dead at the Texas Frightmare Weekend, the master himself was kind enough to sit down with us for a short interview.
As the convention came to a close, we briefly discussed the difficulties of writing comic books, Hollywood’s opinion of zombie films and Romero’s upcoming project with fellow Zombie Research Society member Steven Schlozman. So sit back and enjoy our brand new exclusive interview with horror icon George Romero!
ZRS: You’re currently collaborating with Marvel comics on a new series called Empire of the Dead. Can you tell us how that compares with your work as a director?
Romero: Let’s say [a character] walks over and picks up a gun. But in a comic book, you have to do it in freeze frames. So he can’t walk over, and he can’t pick up a gun. He’s either got to have it in his hand already, or you know…
ZRS: Isn’t that more freeing, because you don’t have to pay or budget for special effects?
Romero: Oh, of course! I mean, of course there’s all of that. But, it’s just that really the biggest problems that my partner [Peter Grunwald] and I are having are those kinds of problems.
ZRS: Doesn’t working frame by frame help to build suspense?
Romero: No. I don’t think so.
ZRS: Is it comparable to storyboarding a film, or is this a completely different experience?
Romero: It’s a completely different deal.
ZRS: Is it something you like, do you think you’ll keep doing it?
Romero: I do like doing it, yeah. But, I did a series of books for Dell a few years ago.1 And, I don’t know… for some reason it was easier. Also Marvel has been really great, they’re terrific. I love doing it, I love doing it.
ZRS: That’s great to hear. Also, you’re currently working with another one of our Board members; Dr. Steven Schlozman.
Romero: Schlozman! I know he’s on the Board.
ZRS: And he wrote The Zombie Autopsies, which is rumored to be your next project. So I was just wondering how that is coming along? Have you talked to him?
Romero: Well, we’re pitching it. So I don’t know. It’s been written, yeah. We’re showing it around to see if anyone wants to put money into it.
ZRS: So you’re raising the funds for that right now?
Romero: Yeah. And Steve and I are gonna’ work on another thing soon as I finish the Marvel thing. Which, unfortunately… it’s gonna’ take a year and a half. A year, anyway.
ZRS: So you’re committed to Empire of the Dead for another year?
Romero: Well, I never thought it was gonna’ be that long! But they’ve already had me for like, a year. It’s fifteen books.
ZRS: Okay, so you’re up to fifteen and then after that, if you like doing it…
Romero: [Shakes his head No.]
ZRS: No? You think you’re done with it?
Romero: I think so. I just can’t, you know? The time is just incredible. Just one thing after another; legal, all kinds of issues.
ZRS: So is that the issue with the film; trying to get the money and the legal issues together?
Romero: No, no, no. Raising money for a movie is just difficult. And especially right now; a zombie film. You think zombies are hot? Not in Hollywood they’re not!
ZRS: Really, do they feel played out right now? So even for you it’s hard to get a script going?
Romero: Well, they’re worried that they’re played out.
ZRS: I understand, alright. Well, thanks for talking to us! I appreciate it.
Romero: Thank you. Thanks, thanks very much!
It was an absolute pleasure speaking with George Romero. Even after a full day of signing autographs and meeting hundreds of fans, he was still more polite and gracious than we ever could have expected. And after the interview we were very excited to learn that he still proudly owns his official Zombie Research Society Advisory Board member patch!
I’d like to personally extend my thanks to Loyd Cryer from Texas Frightmare Weekend, and George Romero’s crew (especially Sarah) for helping us to arrange this interview. We’ll be sure to followup on all of Romero’s upcoming projects; so stop by the Zombie Research Society again soon… because what you don’t know can eat you!
1Editor’s Note – We believe this refers to “Toe Tags” which is Romero’s work with DC Comics.