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June 08, 2012

Comic-Con sport: Fans can pay $70 to be chased by zombie mob

Posted in: Comic-Con,Fans

Robert Kirkman (Scott Garfield / AMC)

Will you lurch or perch? Do you see yourself more as a moaning dead diner — or as the living lunch they pursue?

These are the type of choices presented by Walking Dead Escape: San Diego, which is inviting up to 15,000 people to sign up for a taste of the terror and bedlam that will reign when the actual zombie apocalypse begins. The event, open to anyone 16 or older, will be staged July 14-16 inside Petco Park as a tie-in to Comic-Con International.

“We wanted fans to experience — as closely as possible — the end of the world,” said “Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman, who will join the mad scramble of biters and runners. “It’s going to be a fun, messy time.”

The course, designed by Ruckus Athletics and creatively guided by Kirkman, is characterized by intricate, interactive details true to the bestselling comic series, which will be celebrating the release of its 100th issue. It’s a go-at-your-own-pace event, Kirkman said; no one will be timed.

“You can run, jog, walk,” he said. “I’m probably going to crawl.”

The map of the course for Walking Dead Escape: San Diego. Click on photo above to go to an interactive version. (Robert Kirkman/Skybound)

Fans can register as a survivor or a Walker — there’s also the one-time neutral option of taking it all in as a spectator, which doesn’t seem to happen very often in the comic book or on the tie-in television hit, AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

Survivors, dodging hordes of zombies, will be evaluated at the finish line, or “decontamination zone,” to see if they’ve been infected. Fifteen makeup artists will be on site to make the Walkers as grotesque as possible. Spectators can snap photos from the sidelines. Participants will be sent in waves through the ballpark. How will it work? The answers are on the event’s FAQ list.

The event isn’t cheap: Tickets start at $70. At the end, all participants receive a special variant copy of the 100th issue, which is a rare threshold in the world of independent comics. Kirkman, who spends about a week writing each script, said he’s just getting started and there’s plenty of life left in his corpse epic.

“There’s so much more to come,” he said. “I’m hoping for 1,000 more books. There’s so much potential in the ‘Walking Dead’ story.”

– Danielle Paquette

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