Since last year, Jay Nolte has been publishing a weekly webcomic satirizing office life under the premise of what would happen if a corporation opted to start hiring flesh-eating zombies as a cost cutting measure. “The Zombie Office” primarily takes place in Humonga Corp., the aforementioned company’s marketing department, where Dave, on of the company’s human, living employees, is tasked with training Bob, one of the newly hired undead.
Nolte spoke with CBR News about the allure of creating comics, his plans to expand the cast beyond Dave and Bob both through the comics and his upcoming book, “The Zombie Office Guide to Corporate Etiquette,” and his long term goals for “The Zombie Office.”
CBR News: I saw on your portfolio you’ve done some creative work for brands like Harley Davidson, and MTV. What got you interested in working in the creative field?
Jay Nolte: I’ve always drawn since I was a little kid. I’ve always wanted to be involved in some sort of creative business. I started out in advertising, and then went into online gaming before opening my own shop that does animation and illustration. That’s allowed me to kind of focus in to what I love.
What got you into comics?
I’ve always loved comics and I’ve always wanted to work on some sort of a comic. And about two years ago I was at a comic book convention and I decided that I really wanted to put something together. So I came up with several ideas and “The Zombie Office” was the one that resonated the best. So that’s why I started working on this project.
Diving into the premise of “The Zombie Office,” can you elaborate a little on what this giant corporation is?
Humonga Corp. is just a large, multinational corporation. And with large expenditures and increasing health benefits and salaries, this company had decided to insource the living dead as cheap labor.
So what happens is [human employee] Dave comes to work late one Monday morning to find out that his company has started to bring in zombies. He works specifically in the marketing department and he has to train the zombie in their work.
Bob is the name of the zombie that’s Dave’s training — and right now that’s the only zombie that’s been brought in. Later, there will be other zombies and other characters that come in. A lot of the characters that are in the motivational posters will eventually be coming into the comic as it progresses.
Another thing I saw on your website were the office memos written by Humonga Corp.
Oh, yeah — I’ve kind of playing around with different concepts. Te office memos are from the administration. What’s happened is that the corporation higher-ups knew they were going to bring in zombies, so they moved all their supervisors, the management team, to a secure bunker in the basement.
So, really, the employees only hear from the management team over the loudspeaker, those office memos and emails.
The office memos are an interesting way to build up the world around Dave and Bob.
Yeah, I’m hoping to have more of that come out as I go, because I have this whole mythology of how the corporation works, with the different management and people levels. I have that all structured out; I just haven’t had a chance to implement that in any of the comics yet.
How much of your creative process has changed or developed during the course of publishing your own comic? Or has it evolved at all?
I started with the motivational posters in March of 2012, and at my first convention, people told me I really had to come out with a webcomic. So that’s when I started creating more of a storyline around the characters. But then, some people told me that I should do it more like standalone individual panels.
So that’s where I am, with these two kind of conflicting styles. That’s why I’m working on a book right now, that will feature more of the mythology and have more of the storyline in it. And the comic, I’ve moved more towards sort of standalone scripts. It’s kind of early in the process and I’ve been zipping around a little bit.
What can you tell us about the book?
It’s called “The Zombie Office Guide to Corporate Etiquette.” I’m lampooning corporate etiquette books just because it’s such a big thing right now in office politics. I plan on bringing in more of the characters in that book.