31 Days of the Undead: Zombie Art with Matthew Buchholz of Alternate Histories | Pittsburgh City Paper

31 Days of the Undead: Zombie Art with Matthew Buchholz of Alternate Histories

In honor of Romero Lives!, the city's month-long George A. Romero tribute, Pittsburgh City Paper presents 31 Days of the Undead, a series of reviews and essays about zombie media. Look for new posts going up every day from now through Oct. 31.

Interview: Matthew Buchholz of Alternate Histories
click to enlarge 31 Days of the Undead: Zombie Art with Matthew Buchholz of Alternate Histories (2)
Photo: Alternate Histories
"Flee America: Zombies Are Everywhere" poster by Alternate Histories
Local artist Matthew Buchholz of Alternate Histories has been slipping movie monsters and mythical beasts into his work for years, even in his contributions to CP. Zombies make an appearance in his pop-art prints, gifts, and paper goods that range from calendars to greeting cards. CP talked to Buchholz about his history with portraying the undead.

Do you remember the first time you ever used zombies in your art?

The first time I used zombies in my artwork was when I created a Pittsburgh map of zombie outbreaks in 2012. Since moving to Pittsburgh I was delighted and inspired by the George Romero connection and had been thinking about ways to use zombies and the Romero name. The map, based on an old view of railway stops, became a map of known Pittsburgh zombie outbreaks, sponsored by Romero & Sons, "Outfitting Pittsburgh Against the Living Dead since 1876."

What's your favorite zombie piece?

My favorite zombie piece is my "Flee America: Zombies Are Everywhere" poster, modeled after the 1930s-era "See America" campaign. That turned into "Flee America" in my head and became a series of posters depicting various monsters causing havoc in travel locales. My favorite is a horde of zombies chasing a Native American rider across the Montana plains, implying that zombies always have been part of American history.

What type of zombie do you usually go off of in terms of design?

The style of the zombies I create are based on the aesthetic quality of the artwork I'm mimicking. So if it's a Christmas card featuring It's a Wonderful Life but now George is a zombie, I'll want that zombie to fit in and look as much like a 1940s movie character as possible. That said, I am a Romero classicist and prefer the shambling, non-verbal, unstoppable horror kind of zombies.

Do you find that people in Pittsburgh are usually more receptive to your zombie art because of the Night of the Living Dead connection?

People in Pittsburgh love zombies and the Romero connection, for sure. It's a point of pride for many, although to be honest I'm surprised the city itself doesn't do more to honor him. This is a man who changed not just horror but independent film forever, one of the giants of 20th-century cinema, and he did it all from the Pittsburgh region. Surely we could name a street after him or something!

What's your favorite zombie movie?

My favorite zombie film is Romero's 1978 Dawn of the Dead (don't even talk to me about the 2004 Zack Snyder version). It's remarkably effective as a horror film, a dark comedy, and a consumer satire.

You can find zombie art and more at Alternate Histories.