Zombies Can't Swim - Interview with Kim Herbst
Published 2/15/2014 12:00:00 AM by Glenn Carter
B: Can you tell us a little about Kim Herbst? I did some digging and you were born in Taipei and you work for a games company - what else can you tell us?
KH: I was indeed born in Taipei! I was a toddler for 2 years in Tokyo as well. I actually grew up in Central New Jersey in the States, and currently live all the way on the other side of the country in San Francisco, California. I went to college for Illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art and make a living by drawing for a mobile games company called Juicebox Games. On the side, I've had my work published in a few magazines like GamesTM and Rhode Island Monthly, along with children's educational books for Oxford University Press and Pearson Publishing.
B: Zombies Can't Swim - what was the inspiration for it and where did the idea come from?
KH: This was an actual conversation I had with my fiancé back when he was teaching English in Chikura, Japan (about 2 hours south of Tokyo), I came to visit him for a month. We were really sitting out in rural Japan, watching farmers planting rice paddies. I think about somewhat morbid things fairly often, not deeply but a fleeting thought will come. I wondered, if I had to outrun zombies, how would I go about it in a country where I can't read any signs, or while I'm not a familiar neighbourhood, and so on. So I asked my fiancé, what would you do during a zombie apocalypse, right now? I decided later on to make a comic because the imagery would have been pretty playful, and not what you'd usually see in a zombie comic. I wanted it to be a bit different too, so all of the dialogue is from a couple sitting on a hillside just having a discussion, but the actual comic panels are what they're discussing as they go through it all. I just didn't want a straightforward comic for this project!
B: Can you tell us about some of your other comics/graphic novels and what inspired you to go into comics?
KH: I think drawing for story-telling has always been ingrained in me. I loved children's books with pictures in it since I could always remember. Seeing it take on an even more image-heavy format for comics and graphic novels made it even better. I never realized how deep and meaningful comics could be until I read things like Craig Thompson's Blankets or Brian Wood's Local. I really don't have any other comics aside from Zombies Can't Swim to be honest! I hope to get some more out there.
B: Getting ZCS published proved to be an odd experience considering there were lots of cross wires to start with? Now its going to happen how do you feel about being published in the UK? [this is your first paper published work is it not?]
KH: It's my first official comic with an ISBN number and everything! Pretty darn official, I'd say. I'm very excited it's going to be in the UK - I actually use a UK based marketing company as an illustrator (Darren Di Lieto's Hire An Illustrator site!), so it's nice to connect both comics and illustration together in one country. Though I'll admit, when it comes to one-off illustrations, great, I know how to handle that. I'd done a comic cover recently for BOOM! Studios as well, but when it comes to laying out multiple pages, it's unknown waters! Comics are so much more work, I don't think people realize that at times.
B: What other things 'turn you on'? Music, film, sports?
KH: I love cartoons - love looking at their environments and animations these days (like Samurai Jack, Adventure Time, the old 2d animated Star Wars Clone Wars, old school anime from the 80s 'n 90s). Music, I tend to listen to five random tracks of various things from happy hardcore to a violin solo, and those will stay on repeat for multiple days in a row. Not sure why, but it keeps me focused while working (maybe it's a form of torture?!)
B: What are your plans for the future? Next comics projects?
KH: I have a slice-of-life comic that's partially auto-biographical that I'd like to finally start sketching out (if I ever find the time!). It deals with wanting to grow up quickly, and realizing that as you come to adulthood, you don't have the option of running away from responsibilities like you did as a child (and those responsibilities are vastly worse than the ones you had as a child). It sounds so much more boring than zombies, I'm guessing, but I'd still like to get that out there! In the meantime I hope to get more illustrations out into the world in general! :)