Life is hard enough without your friends trying to eat you. As mindless zombies have taken over O-Town, Rocko must do whatever it takes to safe his friends and the town as a whole before Conglom-O can spread its deadly virus around the world. It’s already taken Filburt and more are falling. Drastic times call for drastic measures. If Rocko’s going to stop this virus from spreading, he’s going to have to take down the internet.
You can enjoy Rocko’s Modern Afterlife as a fun and silly romp with ridiculous antics and some occasional gross out humor. That’s enough in some cases. Where this book really excels is in its fascinating look at our obsession with technology and social media. When faced with the choice of the entire world turning into zombies or saving everyone by destroying the internet, Heffer has some major hesitations. I can understand that to an extent. I mean, you’re reading this thanks to the internet right now. This is a life and death situation we’re talking about though.
The solution is not quite what we expect, with a few twists and turns. Writer Anthony Burch manages to weave in a message here too, fighting all the trolls and hate online with positivity. It’s pretty beautiful when you look at it. It’s just funny that this comes through from a cartoon wallaby of all places.
Artist Mattia Di Meo strikes the perfect balance between the cartoonish and the disgusting. Rocko’s reaction to this insanity is hilarious. You can see the stress on his face as he struggles to figure out what to do next. His face contorts into this crazy grimace as the pressure mounts. Meanwhile, the zombies are pounding down the door, covered in sweat, drool, and other bodily fluids. Their eyes are devoid of pupils and emotion as they stalk towards their prey.
There’s and old school horror / exploitation film vibe in some moments as colorist Francesco Segala paints the zombies in a vibrant and frightening light. They’re often shown lit from below, casting eerie shadows on their faces, like how you look if you shine a flashlight under your chin to tell ghost stories to friends. The backgrounds often fade away to solid colors like pink, red, or purple, focusing your eye on the characters and the impending danger.
The zombies release a guttural growl as they shuffle forward. Letterer Jim Campbell uses wavy word balloons and a rough font to signify this, adding to the spooky nature of the infected.
Since Rocko’s Modern Life was one of my favorite cartoons growing up, I was predisposed to love this comic. I’m happy to say that Rocko’s Modern Afterlife delivers on all fronts, matching the same fun, quirky tone of the cartoon without missing a beat. Even those unfamiliar with the show will find a lot to enjoy in this wacky adventure, especially since it has a through line of introspection regarding our connection to technology.