Zombie Tarot

Review by Sheri Harshberger


Zombie Tarot by Stacey Graham, Paul Kepple and Ralph Geroni

Published by Quirk Productions, Inc., www.quirkbooks.com

ISBN: 978-1-59474-569-0

When I first heard that there was a zombie Tarot in the works, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I'm not really a zombie fan, in fact, they creep me out more than any other type of monster. Despite that, I do have to admit that there is just something about zombies that makes me want to laugh, too. Maybe too many hours playing Plants vs. Zombies? I digress…

The new Zombie Tarot is published through Quirk Books of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a company known for its internationally best selling Pride & Prejudice & Zombies as well as its Worst-Case Scenario series. The set is packaged well in a very retro-looking box, and includes both deck and a very well done instruction booklet. The booklet was written by Stacey Graham, and the box design, as well as card images are the products of Paul Kepple (creator of the Housewives Tarot) and Ralph Geroni of Headcase Design. The packaging is very retro looking, using a palette of red, yellow, black and white, with the red and yellow toned to the gold side making them look "aged."

The campy gist of this deck can be summed up with a phrase that appears on the box: "Insight and Ammunition for surviving the undead uprising."

The Zombie Tarot follows the traditional 78-card Tarot structure with 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. The card dimensions are the same as a Waite Smith, but the deck appears much thicker than a traditional 78-card deck, though, most likely due to the card stock, which has the feel of stiff cardboard, but is very flexible. People with small hands may have problems shuffling this deck if they shuffle their decks like playing cards. The cards have a lot of "body" (pardon the pun).

The 22 Majors are numbered with The Fool 0, Justice 8, and Strength 11. Strength depicts a side view of a human head, showing the brain above 2 boxes of ammunition. A large bullet is shown above the boxes and centered within the human head and brain. The Minors use 4 suits: Cups, Swords, Wands and Hazards, which take the place of Coins or Pentacles. Wands are depicted as long bones. The suit image for Cups is a skull with exposed brain. The deck uses the traditional court cards of Page, Knight, Queen and King. The backs of the cards are black with gray and are not reversible, depicting a zombie with a turban centered on the card.


The imagery on the cards is not only amazing to look at, but very insightful. The images are collaged and use some images from what I recognize as the '40s through the '60s. The images have that same "tongue-in-cheek' humor that we first saw with the Housewives Tarot and continue to see on some humor websites that depict images from those time periods with modern (and more realistic) sediment. Each card is titled with the title displayed at the top of the card in the border. The bordering looks like a newspaper page, with the titles taking 2 lines. For the Majors, the top left beside the title displays the card number. The top right has the words "Major Arcana." The print has a faded look for the card number and "Major Arcana" so they are not a distraction in comparison to the title and the color image on the card. The Minors have the rank of the card on the top left and the suit on the top right. The words "Minor Arcana" are centered in the bottom border of the cards. The rank and the suit of the Minor cards are shown in circles with crosshairs. The ranks are in black circles with different colored crosshairs. The crosshairs for Cups are gray to match the color of the circle the Cups element of a skull with exposed brain. Wands are depicted with 2 crossed bones in a yellow-gold circle, with the rank crosshairs of the same color. Swords look like giant knives, with two crossed in a red-orange circle. Hazards are depicted by a biohazard sign in a pale, lime green circle.


As I mentioned earlier, the imagery is amazing and insightful. The overall theme of the deck shows the relationship between 2 very different groups that fight with each other, but will eventually have to figure out how to get along (I could go into how this is a profound commentary on our world… but I won't :o) ). Cups depict people living with zombies, wishing to have relationships with them, such as shown in the 3 of Cups. Hazards depict people living with zombies because they want to take advantage of them, such as shown in the 6 of Hazards and the 10 of Hazards. Swords depict people battling zombies and winning. Wands depict zombies battling with people and winning. The Majors show several cards of battle as well as several cards depicting getting along. I really love The Fool.


The Instruction Booklet is great! It is a very entertaining read and it is very well done.  It is bound and the pages have the same "faded" and aged look as the cards do. It is easy to see that Stacey Graham is an experienced reader and she brings her experience with a lot of humor to bear in this booklet. It contains a good orientation to reading the cards, several good spreads to use that are formatted to fit the theme of the deck, and card meanings (no reversed meanings). The last page of the booklet looks like one of the "ad" pages that were common in comic books. The ads are all advertisements aimed at the reader who needs to deal with a zombie infection or infestation. What a hoot!

The Zombie Tarot is a very cool, very well done addition to the Tarot world, and easy to use right out of the box. I don't know that I would use it for every client, some may not "get" it, but it could be used and not be very out of place (like the Halloween Tarot might be). Your other decks may not be comfortable around it. Too bad. Give them little shotguns. If you have braaaaaains you will want this deck…and trust me, it wants you, too!

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