‘Zombie Survival Guide’ Author On ‘World War Z’ Movie, ‘The Walking Dead,’ And… Rom: Spaceknight!

Back in July, I was proud to bring you the exclusive scoop that author Max Brooks’ “World War Z” and “Zombie Survival Guide” (as well as the “Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks” comics) had both been optioned by Paramount for live-action adaptations, with Brad Pitt attached to star in the “World War Z” movie.

With Brooks scheduled to make an appearance at this weekend’s Long Beach Comic Con in support of “Recorded Attacks” and the rest of his zombie-friendly projects (as well as his recent “G.I. Joe: Hearts & Minds” miniseries), I caught up with the writer to get an update on his long list of current and future projects. What I didn’t expect, however, was to find a fellow fan of Galador’s greatest hero: Rom, Spaceknight.

MTV NEWS: You have a lot on you plate these days, so let’s kick things off with “Recorded Attacks.” How do you feel about the finished project there and the translation from smaller segments in the novel to a full-on comic book?

MAX BROOKS: I loved it. I always say that the artist, Ibraim Roberson, is the rock star of that project. All I did was write a script that adapted stories I already wrote.

MTV: This was just the latest spin-off from the world you created with “Zombie Survival Guide,” so where does it fit in the greater universe for you?

BROOKS: The funny thing is, it’s still weird to me to think about the time when I wrote “Zombie Survival Guide.” Nobody was doing zombies. Zombies were so unpopular. I wrote it in order to read it. I went looking for it first, and realized that no one is such a loser as to write a book about fighting zombies, so I became that loser.

MTV: Last time we spoke, yuo had some big news n the movie front, especially for “World War Z.” Has anything changed since then? Any updates?

BROOKS: From what I hear, things keep rolling along. They don’t keep me in the loop that much, I’m just the guy who wrote the book. [Laughs] But I do hear about things from back channels. Every time I ask them about it, they say it’s a go — that something would have to stop it at this point, as opposed to start it. Brad Pitt coming on board was a game-changer, I think. We’ll see, though.

MTV: You mentioned Pitt coming on board, and the question on the minds of many people who read “World War Z” is how the narrative will work with a lead actor. The books jumps around so much geographically and narratively, how will the script for the film handle that?

BROOKS: Well, I won’t be able to reveal anything in the script because I can’t — I haven’t actually read the script. [Laughs] I’m like a politician with plausible deniability.

MTV: But you’re generally comfortable with the direction the project is headed? No worries about the adaptation process?

BROOKS: I have confidence in the team, because you have the director (Marc Forster) who did “The Kite Runner” and the writer who did “The Kingdom,” “State of Play,” and “Lions For Lambs.” You’ve got one of the biggest movie stars in the world, who at the end of the day is a really kick-ass actor. Did you see “12 Monkeys?” My god! So if nothing else, I would be very surprised if a team of that caliber didn’t deliver.

If we were talking about a director whose only credits were a music video, and this was his first deal, and this was just a writer who needed to finish out his three-picture deal and round out his resume, or some actor who’s never done a serious movie before and was just looking for a way out from under the fart-joke comedies he’s done, then I’d be worried. Because that happens a lot.

MTV: Far too often, it seems…

BROOKS: Yeah, and a lot of times an adaptation rises and falls on the team that takes up the torch. I mean, look at “The Walking Dead.” They’ve got Frank Darabont. I would say that’s pretty much impossible to f–k up. There’s no way Frank Darabont can drop that ball. If it had been a guy who just did cheesy torture porn, then we might be in trouble, but it’s Frank Darabont on AMC, the network that gave us “Mad Men.”

MTV: So what’s next for you in the zombie-verse? It’s a good time to be someone working in that genre, it seems.

BROOKS: It’s funny, because I am possibly the world’s worst businessman. If I had any sense of marketing or promotion, there wouldn’t be a question. I’d be working on “World War Z: Part 7″ right now. The truth is, I frustrate my publishers to no end. I tell them, “Guys, I wrote ’World War Z’ because I had to — I couldn’t not write it.” Same thing with “Zombie Survival Guide” and “Recorded Attacks” — I really just wanted to see those stories adapted. I have plenty of other zombie stories in my head, but not enough that I’m so passionate about it that I have to do it. The next time I have an idea where I feel like my head is going to explode if I don’t get it out of my brain, then I’ll do it.

MTV: What about “G.I. Joe: Hearts & Minds” from IDW? All of the issues are out now, and it was received pretty well. Any more G.I. Joe comics coming down the road?

BROOKS:That was amazing. I am stunned as many people liked it as they did, because it was so unconventional. It wasn’t a conventional narrative, it was just quick snapshots of these people’s lives. Everyone was asking if it would blend together into a bigger wider story, or if I’m doing another story after this. But no, this is all it was. No explanations, no apologies.

I would love to [do more “G.I. Joe” comics]. IDW and I have been talking, but right now I have so many other projects I’ve committed to.

MTV: What else are you working on in the comics world?

BROOKS: As far as projects go, I have a monster of a graphic novel that we’re almost finished with. I can’t say too much because it’s a true story, but I can tell you that I wrote it as a script and I’ve been excited about the idea since I was 12. I wrote it as a script 13 years ago, and nobody was interested, but when I started working in the comic book world, I realized it would make a great graphic novel. Random House, Avatar Press and I got together, and we’ve been slogging through this thing for two years — it’s like 240 pages. I want to do it as a complete beginning, middle, and end story.

MTV: I know you’re a longtime comics reader, but now that you’re a comics writer, is there a project or a character that you’re dying to tackle?

BROOKS: I’ve always loved comics — especially being as dyslexic as I am, comics were a great way to read for me. They sort of opened the door to reading for me. I think the first thing I ever read in my entire life, comics or otherwise, is the very first “Rom: Spaceknight” annual.

MTV: Seriously? I’m amazed this hasn’t come up earlier. I’m sort of a big “Rom” geek myself…

BROOKS: You know, “Rom” is the only comic that I’ve ever seriously collected. I’ve never been a collector really, but with “Rom” I was there. When I was a little kid and that moment happened when first read something start to finish, that was so empowering. It was like that “Back To The Future” moment when George McFly punches Biff in the face, and he’s like, “Wow, look what I can do!” That’s how it felt.

But once again proving how my finger is not on the pulse, all my friends growing up were into X-Men, Justice League, and Superman, and there was “Crisis On Infinite Earths” and all that, and there I was reading “Rom.” Now that we’ve seen what special effects can do for “Iron Man,” though, I’m like, “Come on, folks. Rom. Let’s do it.”

MTV: Wow. I can’t argue with you there. Go Rom!

Max Brooks will be a guest of Avatar Press this weekend (Booth #200) at the Long Beach Comic Con. You can find out more information about the convention and programming schedule at www.longbeachcomiccon.com.

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