The Zombie Train
A collection that shows the power of a unique genre: narrative poems told as comic strips, with appealing pictures that make the poetry accessible.
This form of poetry is still unique in the world: poems in the form of comic strips. And in this third collection of comic-strip poems, the two-man genre of poet Edward van de Vendel and illustrator Floor de Goede, the creators have refined and developed their skill.
Poetry can tilt our gaze sideways, and comic-strip poems do that in an intensified form, without losing any of the ambiguity. They show what the poet is capable of and how a dash of poetry makes the real world more beautiful. A flock of starlings flying up out of a tree and landing again? The poem’s young protagonist saw something else: ‘Did you see that tree take its hat off to me?’ His dad didn’t see it but we, the readers, did. And we believe the boy who imagines a train carriage full of zombies and monsters in the reflection in the window, because we can see them too.
Van de Vendel writes vivid poems that tell a story, supported by rhymes that never feel forced. His words show everyday reality in a new light. He writes, for example, about the epic emotions triggered by the taste that crisps leave on your fingers, about a sneeze of tsunami-like proportions, and about flowers in spring: ‘Like slow rockets and slow fountains, they pop up out of the ground.’
The poems have both feet in the real world, but are depicted with lots of imagination. This means that the words and pictures combine to create the meaning.
De Goede has expanded his palette: sometimes he makes a classic, comically exaggerated cartoon, but he captures softness and silence just as convincingly. His role in this collection is better than ever: he adds jokes and layers, such as when he gives an abandoned girl the features of a cat who had to stay at home, and when he depicts three playing boys as squirrels.