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Credit: Heavy Metal

George C. Romero resurrects 'Night of the Living Dead' with new prologue comic 'The Rise'

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Mar 22, 2021, 2:46 PM EDT (Updated)

When legendary filmmaker and zombie godfather George A. Romero passed in 2017, horror fans mourned the man who single-handedly launched undead walkers into the annals of popular culture.

Now Romero's son, George C. Romero, is resurrecting the genre and carrying on the family business with a horrifying new comic book prologue to Night of the Living Dead with The Rise — and SYFY WIRE is shuffling out an exclusive peek at the premiere issue, which arrives on April 7 from publisher Heavy Metal.

This new deadhead project is deftly written by Romero and injected with chilling artwork courtesy of Diego Yapur (Suneater) and DC Alonso, who chose to use a limited-color palette for the red-tinted interior pages to crank up the terror.   

Credit: Heavy Metal

"There are a million zombie movies out there... every one of them has been done with love for my father and his work," Romero tells SYFY WIRE. "My perspective on the man was a bit different than most, I’d reckon, and because of that, there was no way I was ever going to try to make just another zombie movie, and I mean that with love for all of them; it just wasn’t going to be my bag."  

The plotline chronicles the events that lead up to the iconic 1968 feature film and presents readers with a Kennedy era prequel tale explaining exactly what happened before the worst night on Earth. Yes, the dead are definitely inside The Rise, and rabid fans are doomed to learn much more about the death, destruction, and tragedy that ushered in the modern zombie phenomenon.

Credit: Heavy Metal

For Romero, the genesis of this zombie project was forged from years of overheard discussions between Romero and his trusted creative inner circle. The Rise further germinated after a meeting years ago when someone asked him exactly what kind of zombie movie he would make if given the opportunity. 

"It was one of those a-ha moments... a real one... I realized that I had been carrying this story with me for years; that it had been formed already, but from my own, unique perspective... the perspective of his son," Romero recalls. 

"My perspective came from years of not so much talking with him about when I was a kid, but more from listening to him talk about it with his trusted compadres. As I grew and began to have my own creative conversations with people about his work, I realized that my perspective was... different than most. After that I realized why. After that I swore I’d never make a traditional zombie movie... and on that day, years ago, the why clicked loudly in my head. I wrote the first draft of The Rise within the following week."

Credit: Heavy Metal

Romero considers The Rise as his own personal prologue to his father’s first film and he believes that the fact that he loved it as much as his dad did has fueled his desire to make sure he stays true to the story. 

"With regard to the comic, I think it’s safe to say that working with Heavy Metal has given me the unprecedented pleasure of not only staying true to my original intentions for the story, but has also given me the freedom to explore the universe and the time period in a much more detailed way than a feature film script ever could." 

Credit: Heavy Metal

Artist Diego Yapur and colorist DC Alonso's striking illustrations for The Rise amplify the sense of horror and dread in myriad ways, and Romero is one to quickly agree. 

"This was a very huge discussion we all had when we set out on this path and we actually discussed a lot of different options for the art style," adds Romero. "For me, I think the decision to stick with the starkness of the palette was an easy one. We are dealing with a very stark story here, a darkness that is about to fall over humanity. An impending doom, if you will. The palette choice seemed to resonate so well as not only a great texture to help readers live in the time period in which we are traveling, but also to focus on the real darkness of what they are reading."  

Now shamble into our four-page peek into Heavy Metal's The Rise #1 in the full gallery below.