The first thing to note is that the living dead move more quickly than one might expect. Use equipment that is light, quick and accessible – I found my usual small sketchbook and art pens (markers) ideal. They also attract less attention than a camera.
Some zombies use rudimentary forms of transport – skateboards, rollerblades and rollerskates all appeared. Those in wheelchairs, however, seemed to find it easier to negotiate the crowds at the beginning of the walk. Also, several thousand zombies walking from the top of Albert Street to Fortitude Valley delay traffic.
It therefore follows that the best sketching opportunities will be when the zombies are generally milling around, engaged in anointing each other with blood and flour.
There are several varieties of zombie: the zombie bride, the Na’vi and the zombie Wallys/Waldos were particularly in evidence. There were also spidermen, nurse, hockey, storm trooper and steampunk zombies, goth zombies, baby zombies, Disney zombies and endless permutations and cross-pollinations. There is only one ‘wrong’ sort of zombie, and that is the sexy zombie.
Some are quite laid-back.
Zombies do try to organise, but are thwarted by their narrow perspective. Cries of “What do we want? Brains! When do we want it? Brains!” disturbed a wedding (the guests came out to take photos) but did not establish a timeline within which their demands were to be met.
The zombies will eventually be on the move, down streets lined with brave photographers, astonished shoppers and nervous shopkeepers. This will test documentary sketching skills. I would stop, sketch, and run on to avoid falling too far behind. The reactions are as much fun to watch as the horde:
There are more sketching opportunities at the end, when zombies sit on stairs and rooftops to relax, and climb trees, and go for burgers. If they have grown used to an artist, they may temporarily adopt it into their horde at this time.