June 19, 2012



The Zombie Tarot

An Oracle of the Undead—with Deck and Instructions

By Paul Kepple and Stacey Graham

Quirk Books : 2012
5/ 5 zedheads

We all know that guns, swords, and chainsaws are common weapons used to fight the undead, but now with the beautifully-designed Zombie Tarot set from Quirk Books, you can add the power of prediction to your zombie-fighting arsenal.

I'm not one to go in for fortune-telling, palm-reading, or any of that other mumbo-jumbo, but I suppose when the chips are down and the rotting corpses of my family and friend are hammering at my bunker door and screaming for my brains, I might just turn to tarot as a way to gain insight into my situation and plan out my spiritual path in the dead-infested apocalypse. Good thing I now have The Zombie Tarot as part of my zombie survival kit.

First and foremost, The Zombie Tarot is simply a beautifully-designed package. The 78-card set comes housed in a lovely display box that pops with pulp-tastic yellow and red accents adorned with mystic iconography and occult symbols that promise "insight & ammunition for surviving the undead uprising." Remove the top of the box to reveal a box rim lined with bullets, simulating an ammo case.

Cushioned inside the box, you'll find the tarot deck and instruction booklet, which explains that the deck is divided into the Major Arcana (22 cards including character representations such as The Fool, The Hanged Man, and The Sun and the Minor Arcana (56 cards representing characteristics and behavior) divided into four suits: Swords, Wands, Cups, and Hazards.

The retro instruction booklet written by Stacey Graham places the set in the context of a world already overrun by zombies, so the cards reflect the problems faced by a zombie apocalypse survivor. To divine the future, the booklet outlines several different configurations for dealing the cards,  such as The Eyeball and The Severed Head, but it's the cards themselves that are the real treat of The Zombie Tarot. Illustrated by Paul Kepple, the characters and situations depicted on the cards are assembled from bits and pieces taken from 1950s magazine, textbook, and medical illustrations. As a result, there's a wonderfully retro but off-kilter vibe to these macabre collages. They're rich with detail, pulp colour, and vintage Cold War iconography of the nuclear family gone necrotic. More entertaining than actually dealing and interpreting the cards is taking time to pour over their details and design.

So, The Zombie Tarot is clearly cool to look at, but can it offer any mystical knowledge into the future? Well, let's find out. Using the most basic card configuration in which the left card represents the past, the center card represents the present, and the right card represents the future, I -- the Amazing Aaron -- will now reach into the cosmos and divine YOUR FUTURE.

Behold your destiny!
PAST: The Eight of Swords

The Eight of Swords represents lack of action, victimization, and no-win situations. Perhaps a fear of the unknown or an avoidance of challenges has dominated your past.


Despite your past, your present is dominated by The Sun, which represents success, enlightenment, and hope. Things are looking up for you as you bask in the light of current success, however.....

FUTURE: Seven of Wands

Do not feel lulled into a false sense of security. The Seven of Wands represents challenges, competition, and persistence. My instincts tell me that rather than fall back into unhealthy avoidance behavior, you should embrace the challenges coming your way and you will come out of them better and stronger than before. If not, you may find yourself a victim once again.

So there you have it: The Zombie Tarot from Quirk Books. A fun, novel and unique zombie-themed collectible, The Zombie Tarot is as much an art piece as it is a quirky way to think about the future. If you love zombie art, especially retro-style imagery, then I highly, highly, highly recommend you pick up your own copy of The Zombie Tarot. It's one of the most novel zombie collectibles to come out all year.

If you don't pick it up, my cards predict a dark future for you. Beware! Beware!