Regie, my writing partner, and I were considering what to do for San Diego Comic-Con 2012. We were told that Future US was creating a car that definitely struck the heart of The Walking Dead & Hyundai brands. Their Elantra was a primer colored, battle ready car with a weapon arsenal to survive the apocalypse. Some of the parts had names but, for the most part, I felt that the vehicle’s real credit to cool would be to build a story around it.
Again, hearkening back to comic book storytelling, the vehicle needed to have a history to help make it all the more legit for the fans. My head space was if you’re going to show it at Comic-con, it needs to speak that uber fan language. Comic collectors and pop culture lovers alike are the loudest zealots you will find. So the vehicle needs to be something they could imagine in the Walking Dead universe. Otherwise, it would just be a cool movie prop. Even more so, we knew that once fans saw the vehicle, they would begin tearing it apart as to whether it could even survive an undead uprising. This was actually a good thing. We wanted social media to explode about it.
But, what was the solution?
Enter our ECD, Greg Braun. Greg, to my delight, was a big fan of The Walking Dead and had even read the comics. He was a huge supporter of the vision and wanted to see INNOCEAN play a role in the The Walking Dead partnership. This was a huge relief for me. As an Art Director, it’s always a struggle to convince the higher ups about what you feel is a hit. Not this time. As a matter of fact, our brainstorming led to creating the owner’s manual.
Greg kept saying how great would it be if we had a ZSM owner’s manual. This started a quick brain storming session. We chatted about revealing it in the glove box of the car. Perhaps Kirkman could chat about the vehicle and open the glove compartment to reveal it? This did happen!
The book was to be comprised of all things zombie survival. It acted as both a handbook detailing the “do’s and don’ts” of survival and, even more so, proclaimed the safety sanctuary the Elantra ZSM ( Zombie Survival Machine) would provide. To add extra authenticity, we made sure to integrate Walking Dead keyart from Charlie Adlard. Thus, the book would not only bridge the Hyundai to The Walking Dead via an authentic brand relation but also, provide comic books fans a great appreciation for Hyundai’s celebration of The Walking Dead.