chapter  1
24 Pages


One day, I was walking down one of the wide tree-lined streets of Adelaide, the provincial city where I live in Australia, when I spied some graffiti. These two armed figures calling for ‘Brains’ were surprising. They brought to mind the graffiti art of the sixties and seventies known as the radical stencil movement, that began with the student-led revolution in France in 1968. Quick, cheap, mobile and easily reproducible, stencils were a perfect medium for plastering the streets with revolutionary pictograms and slogans. They often had a violent tinge to them, like the endlessly repeated image of one man holding a pistol to the head of another, underwritten by the word ‘Capitalism’. Zombie manifestations often draw on the mantras and icons of left-wing causes of the past – like the zombie chant: ‘What do we want? Brains! When do we want them? Now!’ Could this zombie graffiti have a revolutionary ancestry? If so, I had to wonder what the underlying idea or cause at work was here. I also wondered if this was the work of a sole zombieobsessed graffitist plastering the city’s telegraph poles with the

zombie mantra: ‘BRAINS’, or was the ever-spreading zombie obsession building its own sub-culture in the churchy and rather elegant city of Adelaide? My first answer to these questions came some time later at

the annual zombie parade. Adelaide prides itself on not having started life as a penal colony and it also boasts a less bloodspattered colonial past than the rest of Australia, which some say explains its pronounced gentility. Surprise then to find Adelaidean zombies in the street in their thousands. This was no small zombie parade but a monstration equal to any of the zombie festivals being held in far more troubled cities across the world. Adelaide might not be Atlanta, Seattle or Pittsburgh (Brown, 2011) – cities fighting it out to claim the title of ‘zombie capital of the world’ – but here, as elsewhere, zombies were on the move. It’s easy to assume that zombies find their following amongst

the young and frivolous. Not so. Zombies are a dead menace when it comes to breaking down all kinds of barriers. On the screen they’ve shown a complete disregard for generic boundaries and at the Adelaide zombie parade they were showing scant regard for demographic boundaries. They were young and old, straight and queer, alone, in groups and en famille. As I walked through the crowds it was clear that here were people from both the Southern ‘burbs’ and the beau quartier. A few possessed an art school cool; others were proudly ‘bogan’.1 Some quaffed blood from champagne flutes; others chewed on bones as they chugged down a ‘tinny’.2