Though the Centers for Disease Control doesn't ever expect to have to grapple with the undead or their virus-afflicted kin, its free downloadable comic, Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic, uses the fictional threat to remind readers of the importance of being ready for real life disasters. Prompted by the success of the CDC's Zombie Preparedness blog launched in May, the new comic follows a young couple and their dog who stay safe and levelheaded through a burgeoning zombie apocalypse by following basic CDC disaster preparedness instructions.According to USA Today, the comic was a hit as a giveaway at New York Comic Con 2011 when director of the CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response Ali Khan passed out free printed copies at the "Zombie Summit: How to Survive the Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse" panel. If the CDC has its way, the online version will draw a similarly significant number of eyes and help better prepare the public for emergencies.

From the CDC website:

CDC has a fun new way of teaching the importance of emergency preparedness. Our new graphic novel, "Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic" demonstrates the importance of being prepared in an entertaining way that people of all ages will enjoy. Readers follow Todd, Julie, and their dog Max as a strange new disease begins spreading, turning ordinary people into zombies. Stick around to the end for a surprising twist that will drive home the importance of being prepared for any emergency. Included in the novel is a Preparedness Checklist so that readers can get their family, workplace, or school ready before disaster strikes.

The comic walks a fine line between a horror story and an all ages instructional guide. Infected "zombies" attack humans, but mass violence is mostly implied and healthy humans at the CDC work to cure the afflicted rather than take them out with headshots. Even soldiers armed with machine guns clearly remind readers that their foes are just sick people who should be helped rather than harmed.

Even if readers aren't into horror, the comic wraps with a clear checklist of basic household items and devices that the CDC recommends people have collected in the event of a given disaster -- be it tornadoes, floods, earthquakes or another event. Should the actual undead strike, however, it's probably not a bad idea to have a copy of Max Brooks' authoritative The Zombie Survival Guide on hand too. Just sayin'.

[Via Robot 6]

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