REGARDING NORMAN #3: ZOMBIES!


If you are not yet aware, my first, full length, Norman Oklahoma novel is now available for pre-order for just 99 cents. Click here if you'd like to get it now before it becomes $3.99 when it is released on April 28, 2018.

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about Norman Oklahoma.

The Regarding Norman series is a chance for me to talk about all the dumb things I've done with Norman Oklahoma.

And by dumb things, I mean releasing books or stories that weren't ready, then taking them down, then trying them again, only to take them down again.

Sounds exhausting, right.

It was.

But I had to do it. I had to get through all of that to get to where I am now.

So let's talk about all that.

In Part One of Regarding Norman, I talked about how Norman Oklahoma got started.

In Part Two, I talked about the first book I started, but never finished.

So, moving on from there... the first Norman Oklahoma story I actually finished was Norman Oklahoma and the Zombie Fanboys of Doom.

It had originally started as a script for a short comic book story in 2010. I touched on this in Part One but I'll just go ahead and repeat a bit of it here.

Back in 2010, I was a member of a message board for the podcast, Comic Geek Speak. Many of the listeners and members of the board were artists and writers, so the year before a bunch of them had gotten together to create a Comic Geek Speak Listener anthology comic.

In 2010, they were going to do their second one, and this time it had a theme. Create a comic story about what it means to be a fanboy.

So I put a script together:

The story takes place in the downtown shopping district of a small city in Kansas. We won’t disclose the name of the city, but it closely resembles downtown Lawrence, Kansas. I will provide Google Maps pictures for building references.

Windows are boarded up or broken. Cars are abandoned, burned, and/or wrecked. The streets are in general disarray as if there was a violent riot before the entire population evacuated.

A man is standing on the roof of a building. The building is a two story block of stone. It’s one of those buildings with a flat roof covered with small, smooth rocks and bordered by a wall that’s about a foot or two tall.

The man, Norman Oklahoma, is wearing black work boots, dark loose-fitting pants, a dark long-sleeved tee shirt, a black vest like a Police SWAT Team member would wear with its many pockets and pouches, and a black fitted baseball cap with a shamrock on the front. On each hip is a Colt Peacemaker, slung low in the style of an Old West gunfighter. Under each arm hangs a Smith & Wesson Model .625 Revolver in a shoulder holster. On his back is a Winchester Model 1866 Lever-Action Repeating Rifle. His face sports a shaggy, yet short cropped, beard with no mustache.

Norman is standing with his right foot up on the wall, leaning with his right elbow resting on the knee of the leg on the wall. In his right hand is a lit cigarette, his left hand rests on the butt of the Peacemaker on his left hip.

NARRATION BOX: MY NAME IS NORMAN OKLAHOMA. I USED TO BE A HERO.

NARRATION BOX: NOW? NOW I’M JUST WHO I AM.

NARRATION BOX: ABOUT FIFTEEN MONTH AGO THE WORLD WENT TO HELL.

Norman is looking out the business district of what appears to be a small sized city in the aftermath of a war, a war that has long since ended, yet no one has done anything to clean up or repair. The city would seem abandoned if not for the three barely seen figures standing about on the side walk in the front of the storefront directly across the street.

NARRATION BOX: A PLAGUE ERUPTED KILLING OVER FIFTY PERCENT OF THE EARTH’S POPULATION.

NARRATION BOX: THAT’S THE BEST GUESS, ANYWAY.

NARRATION BOX: THOSE WHO DIED DIDN’T STAY DEAD FOR LONG AND STARTED TO FEED ON THE SURVIVORS.

NARRATION BOX: SO YEAH, ZOMBIES. IT’S CLICHÉ, SURE, BUT YOU TRY TELLING THAT TO ONE OF THEM WHILE IT’S NIBBLING ON YOUR FEET. CHANCES ARE THE THING WON’T REALLY CARE ONE WAY OR THE OTHER, AND IT’S DAMN DIFFICULT TO GET ONE OF THEM TO DEBATE WITH YOU. SO YOU JUST GO AHEAD AND HANG ON TO YOUR CONVICTION THAT ZOMBIES HAVE BEEN OVERUSED IN TODAY’S POP CULTURE MEDIA WORLD, BUT YOU’RE GOING TO GET EATEN ALL THE SAME.

Norman climbs down the side of the building using a fire escape ladder.

NARRATION BOX: HOW DID I MAKE IT THROUGH THE LAST FIFTEEN MONTHS?

NARRATION BOX: I SURVIVED. IT’S WHAT I DO.

Norman is standing in the alley now, lighting up another cigarette.

NARRATION BOX: SIX MONTHS AGO THINGS STARTED TO SLOW DOWN. THOSE OF US THAT SURVIVED FOUND PLACES OF SAFETY AWAY FROM THE UNDEAD.

NARRATION BOX: WE MADE HOMES. WE BEGAN TO REBUILD.

NARRATION BOX: ME? I GOT BORED.

NARRATION BOX: SO I STARTED TO COLLECT.

Norman goes to the end of the alley, the front of the store, and peeks from the alley around the corner of the store. He sees a street empty of all life. Only the three indistinct figures in the background can be seen.

NARRATION BOX: I’VE SPENT THE LAST THREE MONTHS GOING FROM TOWN TO TOWN, STATE TO STATE, JUST ME, MY GUNS, AND A WINNEBAGO, ADDING TO MY COLLECTION ONE PIECE AT A TIME.

NARRATION BOX: RUMORS HAVE BROUGHT ME BACK TO KANSAS. BACK TO WHERE I STARTED. RUMORS OF THE HOLY GRAIL.

NARRATION BOX: OTHERS HAVE TRIED FOR IT. SO FAR NONE HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL.

NARRATION BOX: IT’S JUST RIGHT THERE IN THAT SHOP ACROSS THE STREET. WAITING FOR ME. CALLING TO ME. IT NEEDS ME JUST AS MUCH AS I NEED IT.

I’d like a shot here that’s looking from the shop across the street to Norman in the background. You can see him peeking out from the corner of the alley. In the foreground are the three figures that could barely be seen before. Now we see them clearly, and we see that they are zombies and that they have their backs turned to Norman.

NARRATION BOX: THERE’S ONLY THREE OF THEM. THAT’S GOOD. THIS SHOULD BE A CAKEWALK AS LONG AS THE NOISE DOESN’T ATTRACT OTHERS.

Norman now steps out from the alley, walking calmly towards the zombies and the shop they are standing in front of, the lit cigarette still in his right hand.

NARRATION BOX: I’M SURE IF YOU WERE TO ASK ANYONE WHO HAS KNOWN ME, THEY WOULD TELL YOU THAT I’M NOT THE GREATEST OF TACTICIANS. I’LL BE THE FIRST TO ADMIT THAT THEY WOULD BE RIGHT.

NARRATION BOX: I COULDN’T PLAN MY WAY OUT OF . . . WELL, SOMETHING THAT SHOULD BE REALLY EASY TO GET OUT OF.

NARRATION BOX: THE WAY I FIGURE THINGS, IT’S ALWAYS BEST TO JUST START SHOOTING, THEN FIGURE THE REST OUT ONCE THE SMOKE CLEARS.

What I’d like to see here is a close up of Norman’s right hand flicking the cigarette. Then as the cigarette flies, Norman goes for the guns at his hips. The cigarette then hits the closest zombie in the head. The zombie grunts in surprise and turns towards Norman. Norman puts a bullet in the thing’s head. The other two zombies turn at the sound, but barely make it around as Norman shoots both in the head.

Norman holsters his guns, looks around and then quickly makes his way to the double, boarded up glass doors at the front of the shop. He tugs on the handles. The doors do not open. He stands there for a moment, scratching his chin in thought. He then pushes and pulls on the doors with a little more vigor.

NORMAN: CRAP.

NARRATION BOX: I’VE OBVIOUSLY NOT GIVEN THIS A LOT OF THOUGHT.

Norman goes back to studying the doors.

NARRATION BOX: IN THE MOVIES, WHEN THE HERO IS FACED WITH A LOCKED DOOR, HE SIMPLY SHOOTS OUT THE LOCK AND KICKS THE DOOR IN.

NARRATION BOX: BUT THAT RARELY WORKS IN THE REAL WORLD.

In one smooth motion, Norman pulls the Winchester from his back and fires at the lock on the door. Norman then brings his foot up, intending to kick the door in, but instead, when his foot hits the wood covering the door, his foot goes right through, leaving Norman stuck with his leg in the wood up to his inner thigh.

NORMAN: CRAP.

NARRATION BOX: SEE.

Norman pulls himself free and then runs out of the shot. I’d like to see a few panels of the same shot, possibly looking at the shop Norman was trying to get into. The repeated panels are to show a short passage of time, in one panel a zombie can walk by.

Soon enough, Norman comes running back into frame, a cinder block held in both hands over his head. He hurls the cinder block at door. The cinder block bounces off the door and onto the sidewalk.

Norman stands motionless but obviously fuming.

Norman runs back out of the frame. Again, a short passage of time goes by until a Winnebago comes into the shot, driven by Norman, jumps the curb, flies up onto the side walk, and crashes through the door s to the shop.

Norman backs the Winnebago up off the side walk and back into the road.

Norman goes into the shop and we see for the first time that it is a comic book shop.

Norman starts going through back issues. He soon pulls one out. Close up on the issue. It’s issue number one of Amazing Comics. Norman turns to walk out the shop. Once outside he finds that the entire street is filled with zombies, blocking his way to the Winnebago. Norman tucks the comic book into his vest, between his chest and the vest, and pulls both pistols from his sides.

NARRATION BOX: NO ONE EVER SAID THAT BEING A FANBOY WAS EASY.

Norman leaps into the crowd, guns a-blazing.

END.

A fun little story I thought. Norman back then is not the same Norman of now. I hadn't come up with his style of dress back then, but of course, he might not stick with the suit and tie in a post apocalyptic setting.

I also had Norman in a beard back then. A beard with no mustache. I have a beard. A beard with no mustache. Yes, I know. I was pretty sad back then.

Anyway, I posted my intention on the board and asked if there were any artists that might like to partner up.

I never got any takers. So, I turned the comic story into prose. The final draft was finished in January of 2011.

But at the time, I didn't know what to do with it. I didn't know about self publishing eBooks. I didn't know about Kindle Direct Publishing. I didn't know about Smashwords. I didn't know about Kobo or Nook Press or any of that.

And then, once I did find out about all that, I was in the middle of writing Holliday's Gold. Once that was out of the way and published in February of 2012, I wasted time trying to write a sequel that's still just sitting, unfinished, before I turned my attention back to Norman Oklahoma.

Norman Oklahoma and the Zombie Fanboys of Doom was published on January 14, 2013.

I even still have the original cover so that you can all join me in my shame:


Eventually I did update the cover, several times, but this is the only one I still have, and they all fit this same mold anyway, using the same zombie image:


Not bad for one of the firsts I had ever created. Yet, not good. Not as bad as the original, but I have come a long way in that department.

So here is where I ran into problems. The very first Norman Oklahoma story published for the public to purchase and it is set in a future where the world is burning following a global zombie apocalypse.

I even had a trilogy of short stories planned called Norman Oklahoma's Apocalypse Holiday. Zombie Fanboys of Doom was going to be Book One.

I thought I could make it work, that is as long as everything I wrote about Norman in the present led up to a zombie apocalypse.

But then, Harold C. Jennett III makes me an offer I can't refuse.

He tells me that if I could write a Christmas book staring Norman Oklahoma, he would create the cover.

Well, how could I refuse?

One year and a half later and I had Norman Oklahoma and the Bullets that Saved Christmas.

More on that in Part 4.

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