Bestselling author Max Brallier (Eerie Elementary and Galactic Hot Dogs) is at it again with The Last Kids On Earth, a thrilling post-apocalyptic graphic novel that’s as funny as it is spooky.
Told in a mixture of text and black-and-white illustration, this book tells the tale of the monster apocalypse as 13 year old Jack Sullivan does his best to survive in the new world. If you’re a fan of comic books, videogames, monsters and zombies, this book is for you.
The Last Kids On Earth opens with Jack living in his tree house, which he has armed with catapults and a moat, not to mention videogames and an endless supply of Oreos and Mountain Dew scavenged from abandoned stores. But Jack alone is no match for the hoards of Zombies and Winged Wretches and Vine Thingies, and especially not for the eerily intelligent monster known only as Blarg.
So Jack builds a team: his dorky best friend, Quint; the reformed middle school bully, Dirk; Jack’s loyal pet monster, Rover; and his crush, June. With their help, Jack will try to to slay Blarg, and achieve the ultimate Feat of Apocalyptic Success.
I got the chance to chat with author Max Brallier about the new series (yes, there will be more books in this saga) earlier this week. Scroll down to see what he had to say about monsters, videogames and more.
5 Questions With Author Max Brallier
What can you tell us about The Last Kids On Earth?
I sometimes describe it as The Walking Dead with giant monsters and zero adults. It’s about a barely heroic hero, Jack Sullivan, and his band of buddies, who appear to be the only people still alive after the Monster Apocalypse.
So basically, there are zombies and humungo, scary monsters everywhere. Jack has a tree house, which he arms to the teeth with catapults, zip-lines, rocket launchers, and all that good stuff – and an endless supply of snacks and soda scavenged from abandoned stores and houses.
One particularly big and particularly foul monster named Blarg is hunting Jack – so Jack’s trying to say alive while searching for his missing love, June del Toro (who barely even know he exists). Also, there are pet monsters, videogame-style achievements, weapons of power, and all that good stuff.
And it’s told in a really perfect mix of text and illustration. The illustrations and diagrams are done by monster master Doug Holgate, and they’re absolutely killer. It’s funny, scary, adventure-packed and full of over-the-top action. That’s what I can tell you about the Last Kids on Earth.
Most of your writing has that geeky, fantastical vibe to it. Is this book the same?
Definitely! Jack and his best friend Quint are huge movie, TV, superhero geeks – and they can’t stop referencing things that they love. There’s one scene where they’re about to be crushed and devoured by a “zombie ball” – and all they can talk about is how much it’s like Indiana Jones and how cool that is.
Early on, Jack describes his tree fort as “better-defended than Fort Knox, Stark Tower, and the X-Mansion combined.” So yeah, definitely a geeky, fantastical vibe.
What made you want to write about monsters?
I’m trying to think if I’ve written any fiction that wasn’t about monsters – and, man, I think the answer is no. I’ve just always loved monsters – particularly big ones. But I’ve always felt like big, giant monsters are something that work best in film. So that’s part of the reason I wanted this book to have lots of illustrations – I wanted the reader to actually see these big brutes. And when I realized just how well Doug Holgate draws monsters – I just started adding more and more and more beasties.
Also, I’ve written a lot about zombies in the past – so I wanted to do that in a different way, here. In this book, the zombies are more of an annoyance – like dangerous pests. The real threats are the big monsters: Blarg, Winged Wretches, Dozers, and other giant wicked brutes.
Halloween is coming up, what’s the scare level from 1-10?
Oh boy. About an 8, maybe? My top three goals for this book were adventure, fun, and funny – the scares and the horror came fourth. I was really inspired by movie monsters like the Graboids in Tremors and the Rancor in Return of the Jedi. With those monsters, it’s less about “Oh no! So scary! Need to shut my eyes!” and more about “Oh man, that thing is freaky looking! How is our hero going to destroy it?!?”
So that’s really how I approached it: create a world full of deadly, man-eating monsters – and see how our heroes survive.
What’s up next for you?
I’m busy! It’s a rare thing for a writer to be really, really busy – so I’m partly busy just being really thankful for being that busy. The next entry in my Galactic Hot Dogs series comes out Spring, 2016 – and I’m in the process of writing the third book in that series. I’m having a blast putting Cosmoe and his crew in all sorts of horrible situations and watching them trying to get out.
I just finished writing The Last Kids on Earth #2, and Doug Holgate is now diving into the illustrations. I’ve seen a few early sketches and they’re amazing – big monsters doing big monster things.
I write the Eerie Elementary series under the penname Jack Chabert, and I’ve got a bunch more of those coming. The third book in the series comes out in January, 2016. And then I’ve got three more to write! Those are an absolute blast.
Besides that? Playing videogames, riding my bike around the city and trying not to die while doing it, and doing some traveling.