Another zombie book, yes, but this one is certainly different than the others. Cauliflower for Al Jordan goes in a totally unique direction. It's bizarre, short and I'm pretty sure it's some sort of vegetarian propaganda, yet it works. It's nothing if not unique, that's for sure. I think Chuck Messinger should be proud that he's offered up something I've yet to see in the zombie genre.
It's not the best thing I've ever read — there have been one-shots that have rocked my comic world, and then there have been the lowly dregs of comic minds; stories that are tossed on to paper simply because the idea seemed good enough. I'd say Cauliflower for Al Jordan is somewhere right in the middle. The comic is short — a quick one-shot that gets its point across smoothly and it feels complete. The concept is fresh, and writing a zombie comic these days that can be a real task, especially trying to find something new or just anything to get noticed while standing in the shadow of The Walking Dead. In all honesty, I really don't like zombie books. They're my least favorite of the horror genre simply because what can you really do that hasn't been done? Make them fast? Done. Make zombisim a virus? Done. Cure it? Done. With Vegetables? Now there's something not done.
The protagonist, Al Jordan, is a zombie — a mindless, brain eating, rotten zombie. He's hard up for some sweet, juicy brains when he literally stumbles into a garden filled with what look like giant brain plants. Now this isn't the first time I've seen cauliflower used to tempt zombies because of their somewhat unfortunate, but not quite as squishy resemblance to brains. I definitely remember seeing it in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but this is the first time I've seen bland vegetable be anything but a humorous decoy. Now here's where we get into the vegetarian propaganda part — the cauliflower heals/cures Al. An apple a day keeps the flesh eating desire away. Yes, through the power of good nutrition Al Jordan becomes whole again. It's all circle of life. Sure, it's ridiculous, but so is the whole notion of walking undead.
Dario Reyes' art is the heart of the comic. Credit where credit is due, right? Cauliflower relies on its artwork, after all its main character is a zombie for a good part of the book, and it's not like he has many people to talk to, so there isn't a lot of dialogue. With the sparse inner monologue of Al, we, the readers, see the story through Al's facial expressions and their evolution. I have to say seeing a zombie smile is a little disconcerting, but that's what I liked about it. That something that simple could connect with me. I could see, instead of being told, that Al was healing.
Could I recommend Cauliflower for Al Jordan? Yes and no. Yes, because it's just fun, plain fun, it takes a small jab at the zombie book and anyone who it tired of the same old crap will enjoy it. Then no, because looking at the price, it costs $4. Four dollars for a short comic isn't worth it to a lot of people, and you'd have to really love it to shell out the cash for it. I'd have to say that will be the biggest downfall for Cauliflower; it's an independent comic with a high sticker price. But if a silly take on a cure of the average zombie interests you, Cauliflower for Al Jordan is a good read, quick, but fun and memorable, it'll stick in your mind. I am leaning more towards the yes. I'd definitely recommend reading this, if you're willing to pay the price, that is.
Karyn Pinter has been writing for Comics Bulletin since 2008. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and was one of those kids who was raised by TV, babysat by the likes of James Bond, Mary Poppins and Darth Vader. In college she spent her days critically analyzing Dorothy’s need to befriend a lion, scarecrow and man of tin and writing papers on how truth, justice and the American way ultimately lead to Superman’s death.
Karyn gladly accepts bribes in the form of carnitas burritos and/or Catwoman paraphernalia.