Arts & Culture

Artist Spotlight: The Zombie Apocalypse In Ditmas Park Looks Like A Blast

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Ditmas Park’s very own creative extraordinaire Kristine Scheiner has imagined the unimaginable: the Zombie Apocalypse in her very own neighborhood. In coloring book form!

Fun is at the center of her creative process, and you can get a piece at the zombie costume party this Saturday at Sycamore, featuring costumes, Ditmas trivia, speed coloring, and wacky prizes (if golden cockroach barrettes don’t get you going, there’s also a pair of Jill Scott tickets to win).

Read below for the secrets behind Scheiner’s latest project, Zombie Apocalypse In Ditmas Park

This is such a fun and creative project, how did you get this idea and how did it develop into a coloring book?

Me and my sister Kathleen were goofing off one night and throwing ideas around about a sister project. We both love horror, our neighborhood, art and writing, and Kathleen had been thinking of starting up a small indie press based on her Horrorfeminista blog.

We thought a local bent would be really cool, so we came up with a bare bones storyline and I took it from there. I would be the artist, and Kathleen’s Horrorfeminista would be our imprint! (It was a lot more realizable than some of our other grand visions, like—ahem! —our dream to do a version of Law & Order: SVU, with our cats as the main characters)

What other projects have you written/illustrated before this book?

I did illustrations for the book Becoming Nature: Learning the Language of Wild Animals and Plants by Tamarack Song. He writes a lot of naturalist and survivalist type books (perfect info to have in the zombie apocalypse!) I’ve also written a couple of articles for BKLYNER (when it was Ditmas Park Corner) on urban entomology (one features cicadas and cicada killer wasps and the other is about bald-faced hornets). Moths may be my next one since our train stations at night are perfect light traps.

I’ve got hordes of sketchbooks and writings, and I’m always cooking up something new. Another coloring book, Occult ABCs, is in the works right now, and I’m hoping to get it out by the end of the year.

Why a coloring book?

Total entertainment! In my mind, it’s an interactive comic book since the person gets to participate by coloring it. I laughed my ass off drawing all my goofy jokes into this one, and I hope other people will find the fun in it as well!

Plus, I think coloring is a great and accessible way for everyone to enjoy making art. No matter how steady a hand a person may have, everyone will still have created original and personal art, because the color choices, mediums used, and decisions made will be different for everyone.

Kristine Scheiner

I love how you’ve made the element of zombies and horror (something that is usually scary!) into a playful theme. What were your inspirations for this project?

My inspirations were… Zombies and horror! I’m an incurable dingdong who will find something to laugh and giggle about in everything, so that’s pretty much the kind of delivery you’re gonna get if it goes through my filter!

I did a drawing of a wendigo not too long ago (which is way scarier than zombies I think) and the still-beating heart swinging in the breeze beneath the pulped victim still gets me cackling like a maniac. Blood and guts are just so gross, and fun to draw, and…hilarious.

How did you choose the Ditmas/Flatbush locations to highlight in the Scheiner sisters journey? 

Ditmas Park was certainly the easy go-to for background material since we live here. It’s nearing the top of the long list of places we’ve lived longest. We were military brats growing up, so finding our home base in the world and connecting to it is pretty important.

Me and a pal went around and photographed the whole neighborhood for backdrop material, and I picked my fave spots and went from there. There were a ton that didn’t make it into the story as it evolved, but it’s still great source material I can plumb for other projects.

The zombie apocalypse at Sycamore! By Kristine Scheiner

Did the Salahi’s staff pose for your drawing? Along the same lines, did you tell the local businesses they were going to be featured or was it a surprise for them?

Affirmative! I got some pics at Salahi’s and I told a few people but tried to keep my trap shut once I had my pics to work with. I have a constant tornado of ideas in my head, and it can be hard for me to finish a project before starting two more.

It took me several years to get this out of my system because I kept losing momentum for other projects (thus, the Kings Theatre’s page is pre-renovation, and the stripey Astro Tower at Luna Park [torn down after Sandy] is still visible outside our friends’ window when we radio our party invitation over).

I’ve enjoyed reading back through your urban entomology articles you’ve written on our site, can you tell us where your fascination with bugs began? Is there a thematic connection between the bugs and zombies?

I love bugs and think they’re fascinating, gorgeous, ruthless, and honorable. They’re absolutely perfect little monsters! Me and my younger sister Karla are the bug-lovers in the Scheiner clan.

Both my uncle and brother Randy (who is a freakin bird WIZARD, btw!) have mad beekeeping skills, and we’re all super into anatomy and biology, growing stuff in the dirt, and seeing what the critters are up to all around us. I haven’t actually counted, but I’m sure that nearly every page in my coloring book has a bug or a rat in it somewhere. There’s even some disco rice for y’all (best term EVER invented for maggots!), so I guess there are all sorts of secret parties going on in there.

How long have you lived in the neighborhood? Has your relationship with the neighborhood changed over the course of writing this book?

My sister and I moved here in 2009. I’ve always done a lot of exploring, and learned a ton of cool things to do with Ditmas/Flatbush history. This is one of the oldest patches of community dirt in Brooklyn and was the hub of it all when it was still farmland. There’s some serious ghosts and skeletons locked away under the streets I get to walk down every day, and I do so enjoy digging them up and checking them out.

The neighborhood is really tight as well, and I enjoy that a lot too. There’s a really active vibe here, and so many overlapping levels of community support, family, and concern. I may not belong to them all or know every last soul here, but the whole neighborhood breathes it and the multi-generational and -cultural vibe here makes me really happy.

Example: There was this old guy who used to sell ices from a little push cart every day. A couple of newbie cops were hassling him about permits and such in front of the church across the street from our apartment, and so many people jumped out of the woodwork from the surrounding blocks to defend him! Needless to say, the chastened young fuzz backed off. So…freakin’…solid!

What do you hope readers/coloring enthusiasts come away from your book thinking or feeling?

I hope the launch party will inspire some good love for our neighborhood and give our local businesses props, and maybe some people will be inspired to check out some of my other stuff (*wink-wink*).

But mostly, I just want people to laugh and be entertained! I hope they have fun finding all of the stupid little jokes, horror references, and pop-culture nods that are littered throughout the book. (Here’s a few faves to try and find: GGRD’s Queens of Pain, how many Bruce Lees can you fit on one page?, a bear pooping in the woods, Girls Write Now, a unicorn, a cat in a litter box, the Charlie’s Angels silhouette, and of course, all the secret rat, cat and bug drama going on behind the scenes!)

Check out more info on Saturday’s party here.

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