Bursting onto the indie comics scene is I Am Ned, a post-apocalyptic zombie story full of action and horror. The brainchild of Max Myint, it is like a mix of Mad Max, Dawn of the Dead, and Terminator: Salvation with a unique Aussie flavour. If you’re expecting a comic book about Ned Kelly you may be disappointed – this character is inspired by Ned but this is most assuredly not Victoria circa 1880.
The hero of the story is Ned, a nomad wandering the badlands liberating humans from farms set up by their zombie overlords. Yet, to the humans herded like cattle into large pens by the walking dead Ned is a legend – a fairy tale – but the faithful wear red bands adorned with an illustration of Ned’s helmet knowing he will come. This twisted dystopia is full of weird sentient zombies, some of whom have objects grafted to their bodies, and is depicted with a gritty, visceral quality that sucks you in. In issue #1 we are introduced to Kristy who is captured by zombies with a group of survivors including Nolan, a sceptic who has no faith in the legend of Ned. They are herded into a farm where zombies jostle and inspect them. Among the herd Kristy and Nolan encounter Koa, an Aboriginal man and staunch believer in Ned who lives in hope. Then, just when things are looking bleak Ned arrives…
As an introductory issue one could not ask for a more exciting, intriguing setup, though the story moves so fast that it really leaves you craving for more. The characters are visually appealing, Ned’s costume in particular seems tailor made for icon status. Fans of all things that rev will get a kick out of Old Mate, Ned’s vehicle of choice which looks like the Batmobile via Mad Max. The issue is punctuated with in-universe propaganda posters pertaining to the Zombie World Order and add a satirical edge to the proceedings. We see a fully fleshed out world opening up before our eyes and a tantalising hint of what’s over the horizon.
Myint’s writing is punchy and engaging, perfectly complemented by Zac Smith-Cameron’s artwork which is very evocative of the visual styles used in many edgier comics in the 1980s and 1990s, such as Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and in Frank Miller books such as Batman: Year One and Sin City. The creation of an anti-hero inspired by the armour of Ned Kelly was a master stroke and hopefully gets a bit more explanation in future issues. A great part of the book is the concept art at the end that shows how the look of the world evolved. We can see the effort put into designing the look of everything with sketches and notes from Max Myint. A personal favourite design is the zombies that have stilts for arms and legs so they can keep an eye on the humans.
If you’d like to grab a copy of I Am Ned yourself (or one of the incredible hand-made Ned maquettes) you can do so at https://ownaindi.com/creator/max-myint/