Interview: Zombie Date Night’s writer Steve Urena

The GateCrashers team sits for dinner and an interview with writer Steve Urena!

It was already nighttime, 8:00 P.M to be more precise, when I got to the Italian restaurant Steve and I decided as our place of meeting for the GateCrashers interview. I’ve never been to one, so I spent the whole evening practicing my Italian hand gesture to communicate with the waiters. He was already sitting at a table with all the tableware prepared when I waved at him, receiving a very energetic wave back at me.

First, we talked a bit before the formal interview. But we were both hungry, so it didn’t take long for us to order food. I asked for spaghetti with bolognese sauce as a sign of respect since it was my first time. I made the hand gesture just as planned when I did it, but the waiter just kept staring at it, confused. He must have been from a different region of the country.

GC: First of all, what’s your favorite sandwich?

SU: Last time I was on Gatecrashers podcast, I went with a Taylor ham, egg, and Cheese (Not pork roll), but since we are in this fancy-ass Italian restaurant, I’m going to go with a meatball sub. How can you go wrong with three meatballs on Italian bread with cheese?

GC: You’re about to release a new comic called Zombie Date Night, after releasing another great horror comic named Slowpokes; being so inclined to the genre, where do your inspirations come from?

SU: I draw from personal experiences as much as I can. I just turn the volume up to eleven. I love the horror genre, so a story where something is scary without monsters before adding in zombies or killer sloths means I’m onto something. It’s also a great genre where anything can happen, and people are supportive.

Slowpoke #1 (Written by Steve Urena, art by Juan Romera, and lettering by Sean Rinehart)

GC: With those inspirations, and your former and current projects in mind, in which direction do you want to take the genre with your art?

SU: I want to get as nuts as possible. The crazier the project, the more excited I get. I want to entertain and take my ideas to the brink of insanity. When I feel like I am comfortable there, I will switch it up and attempt something different in another genre. I am having a blast, but I want to keep people guessing.

GC: What is the next–

As I was reading my notes, a noise invaded the environment. You would think that a simple noise wouldn’t catch any attention in a place full of people like this, but this wasn’t a regular sound. It was a desperate gurgling coming from beside us, just outside the door. Dozens of heads turned to the origin of the sound, which we rapidly learn came from a man giving his last steps, trying to escape from something after his throat was ripped off. Gasps inside the restaurant were followed by screams outside. The whole street was suddenly bloated with people running from their lives. From what was yet to be determined, but considering the topic of the conversation, the coincidence was in the mind of both of us.

Some people got outside, intending to get into their cars. Some others went into the bathrooms or to the exit doors. Steve and I went into the kitchen, looking for refuge. People were quite hurried, talking about zombies killing us violently if we stayed. But I couldn’t get the writing error I noticed in my notes out of my head; it was pretty bothering. However, we barricaded the doors and had some time to breathe.

Slowpoke #1 (Written by Steve Urena, art by Juan Romera, and lettering by Sean Rinehart)

GC: Ha! You wouldn’t believe it, but I wanted to ask you what weapon you would use in a zombie apocalypse! I guess there won’t be a better time to ask.

SU: Damn. Looks like they’re gaining on us. A lovely evening ruined! Uhhh I would say a weedwhacker for sure. It’s practical, light and it can make zombies turn to liquid really fast. I’m surprised they haven’t made a weed wacker that is strictly for zombie killing.

GC: What was your first encounter with the horror genre? You know, considering this might be your last.

SU: I remember the Child’s Play 3 box cover art at a Blockbuster when I was a child. It scared the hell out of me and created so much intrigue. A toy that kills people? What is happening here? From then on, I always walked around the horror box covers and took a gander at movies I one day wanted to watch. It was a thrill because I couldn’t watch it and now I’m in it. Life comes at you fast! Like these damn zombies.

GC: Both of your comics have romance as part of the plot; is that another genre you would like to write about? Is there any other?

The things pursuing us were no longer distracted with the victims outside and started punching the metal doors to the kitchen. Steve was choking down his meatball sandwich with the quickness of a gazelle while I was inclined on a table beside an oven, making an effort to ask the questions between all the agonizingly rude screams and the growls from the monsters.

SU: I think I have a serious love story in me somewhere, but I want to write all genres or at least play in these different worlds. I just want to challenge myself as a writer and have fun. If an idea pops into my head that is outside of my comfort zone, then that is where I need to go.

GC: There are many types of zombies in pop culture; fast, slow, dumb, intelligent, infected by a virus, magic, etc., is there anything that sets the zombies from ZDN apart from other versions?

SU: I don’t want to give it away, but these zombies are different than anything I’ve ever seen before. I wanted to do something that hasn’t been done ( to my knowledge) and I hope readers get a kick out of it. They are normal moving zombies. I will say that.

Slowpoke #1 (Written by Steve Urena, art by Juan Romera, and lettering by Sean Rinehart)

GC: Despite the nearing sense of death just outside the door, how does it feel to be releasing your second comic?

SU: I am very grateful I got to eat that sandwich before my bitter end. I am truly grateful people want to keep seeing me create. If I make it out of this, any amount of money that goes to this Kickstarter will go towards future projects. Whether it’s loved or hated, I just want people to react to it while having fun.

We started hearing something crawling through the ventilation system, which gave a perfect entering to the kitchen. Both of us looked to the ceiling as the monster’s body hit the vents constantly, announcing its appearance. There was nowhere to run.

GC: Well, what do you think about going out with a fun question? What monsters would you like to use in a future horror comic of yours?

SU: I think body horror would be a good challenge; werewolves and aliens too. Ghosts, robots, and everything in between. Maybe I’ll even leave it up to the reader. If you want to see me write a specific thing, hit me up on Twitter @TheSteveUrena.

As soon as he finished the sentence, the vent door fell to the floor with a deadly sound. For a moment, nothing happened;  there were no more growls or hitting on the door. But before a real sense of calm could settle in, a small body fell and stared at us like we were nuggets he was about to play with before eating.

GC: Wait, is that a sloth?!

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