Review: 'Carpe Mortis: You Only Live Once', by Graveyard Greg
The first 26 pages of this novella and the next ten or so establish the slice-of-life daily routines of the cast of buddies: Ted the hyena, his foster brother Reggie (who prefers to be called Venti) the nine-foot-tall black jackal, Regis the zebra and his teen brother Lee, Kevin the tiger, and Art the lion. Most of them are gay, but that’s only incidental in this novella; it isn’t erotically heavy. The zombie plague doesn’t get serious until around page 40.
The main characters are Regis and Lee the zebras, Ted the hyena, and new characters that are introduced on the way. Some of the buddies make it. Some succumb to the zombie plague, or are eaten by the zombies. Some go to rescue their friends, without knowing if they are already too late.
If you are familiar with zombie movies, novels, or comic books, you know what to expect, except that Carpe Mortis: You Only Live Once has an anthro-animal cast, with matching action. “… his ropey tail flicking about in agitation.” “He wiggled his round ears for emphasis.” It is very well-written, in thirty short chapters of two to seven pages.
Ted had quietly scampered as far into his closet as he could manage when the dead gathered around his apartment. His body shook with fear as the light scratching of claw tips against the front door filled his tiny hiding space. If they broke in, they would most certainly find him. Retreating into the closet would be a fatal error then. (p. 58)
He opened the door and quickly got out, then reached into the bed of the truck for the curl bar. He charged toward the first undead, a Labrador retriever, and smashed its head in. Regis then did the same to the other one, a red panda. ‘Come on,’ he whispered, beckoning Nicole [a rabbit female] to get out of the truck. He continued to look around for signs of approaching zombies, but there were none. How long that would last, he wasn’t sure, but he knew he had to gather up everyone fast. Something wasn’t right, but he couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was wrong with the scene he was witnessing. (pgs. 65-66)
This novella is a sort-of sequel to Graveyard Greg’s (writer) and Krahnos’ (artist) 32-page comic books Profiles and Profiles 2 (both Fuzzy Green Dice, January 2009); Graveyard Greg’s (writer) and CarpeHall’s (artist) 32-page comic book Carpe Diem Halloween Special (Fuzzy Green Dice, October 2010; and Graveyard Greg’s novel Welcome to Cappuccinos (FurPlanet, January 2012). That is, it is a direct companion to the Carpe Diem Halloween Special, adding some of the “cool” characters from Welcome to Cappuccinos.
It was funded by an October 2012 Kickstarter campaign. Graveyard Greg said there,
It all started in 2007, when I released the Carpe Diem Halloween Special. In that story, I subjected the cast of characters to a zombie apocalypse, and left the readers hanging at the end.
Fans of Carpe Diem know that I also have a spin off comic for adults only called Profiles. What happened to those particular characters? How did they handle the sudden zombie apocalypse?
If the Carpe Mortis Kickstarter project is successful, you gentle readers will find out.
Carpe Mortis is a story that runs parallel to the events of the Carpe Diem Halloween Special, and features the cast of Profiles with a few guest star appearances by a certain barista jackal, his boyfriend, and his little brother [from Welcome to Cappuccinos, also funded via Kickstarter]. A preview can be found if you know where to look.
The Kickstarter goal was $500. It raised that on the first day, going on to $1,591 total.
Graveyard Greg says in an Author’s Note about the subtitle, 'You Only Live Once', “It does mean, however, I might call the sequel You Only Die Twice.” (p. 7) Will there be a sequel? The ending, set a month after the outbreak of the plague and the end of civilization, implies one.
For all that it is well-written, Carpe Mortis: You Only Live Once is a stereotypical zombie horror novella. It is recommended for fans of zombie fiction only.