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Zombies and undeads are one of the most favorite subjects within Geek communities. There are tons of films about it, as well as books or video games depicting that mythological corpse-reanimated creature and, more than that, the eventuality of a “Zombie apocalypse” striking our world.
That is to say, this dreamlike, for some, or nightmarish for others, fantasy explains the extreme popularity of that sorts of stuff that can also be seen online with websites such as a Zombie survival wiki or websites selling perfect weapons for a zombie day.
The “Zombie Tools” exploitable sheet is divided in blanks panes where you can write down the tools that you’ll use in case of a zombie apocalypse.
These usually include the weapons you’ll use (primary and secondary), the type of armor you’ll get, the vehicle, a sidekick and so on, but it also asks you to answer to some more trivial requests like your battle anthem or the last word you’ll say/shout while you’ll get slaughtered.
One can answer in whatever form they want, with text or pictures.
The greatest source of inspiration for the meme lies down in the Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. It’s a tongue-in-cheek survival manual, published in 2003, that helps you by giving advices about what to supposedly be doing when facing a Zombie Outbreak: How to fight them, how to get food, how to behave with your environment and so on.
According to the Lurkmore wiki the meme originated from the 4chan’s /k/ board, a board about weaponry, around the late October 2008.
The board began to be invaded by what they called “zombie threads” in which they were asked to give pieces of advice about the best weaponry choice and plan when facing a zombie outbreak. It was usually resulting in a division between those who wrote the most accurate response they could find and those who didn’t believe in zombies, leading to fiery arguments between the two. Unfortunately, none of these threads were archived.
Then, In october the 24th 2008, a new zombie thread took a new turn by adding an image macro titled “Zombie Tools” :
However, on that first attempt, no one reused the picture as a response.
The 29th of October 2008, the meme went to /b/ where another zombie thread popped up. There, the picture began to be reused to fulfill the requests.
It then came back to the /k/ board, having more and more threads created.
Instantly, the meme expanded to other boards and other chans, mainly those that got a zombie board.
That kind of zombie threads, since then, are always present on a regular basis on 4chan as well as other boards.
In the beginning of 2009, a new version of the Zombie Tools sheet game was created on 4chan and called “Zombie Survival Sheet”:
Female version (By DeviantArt user Marsuwai):
As one can see, the new version got a better look close to a Role Playing Game sheet.
There are some different versions where the character is placed elsewhere on the sheet, or with different colors and blank panes:
All these versions spread to other forums and websites, hosting contests:
- Lost zombies
- XKCD forum
- DeviantArt has one of the biggest contributions done about it
- Nextgen Board
- Giant bomb forum
- You can find here an impressive amount of Youtube videos from people fulfilling the sheet and explaining their choices. (Most of them in German language)
(NB: concerning the Zombie Tools curve, the only part that is related to the meme is from the late 2008 to today. Before that, the rest can be explained by a computer virus called Zombie tool and the existence of a shopping website named Zombie Tools as well)