stories

Surrounded by the undead deep beneath Moscow A Russian illustrator maps out a subway survival scheme for the zombie apocalypse

Meduza
11:03, 9 august 2017

Here’s a question: What would happen if a zombie apocalypse forced you to take refuge in the Moscow subway system? If you’ve ever pondered this and wondered how you might survive underground among the living dead, a Russian illustrator named Max Degtyarev has created something that will likely speak to your heart: a detailed diagram of life in a Moscow subway station under attack by a zombie horde. Degtyarev’s illustrations are full of survival advice, like using ladders as watchtowers, converting station attendants’ offices into shelters, and making toilets out of emergency spaces under the station platforms. Meduza spoke to the artist to learn more about his nightmare vision.

Degtyarev told Meduza that he first sketched his cross-cut diagram of a Moscow subway station for the magazine Vokrug Sveta in January 2013. In that artwork, there were no zombies.

Three years later, Degtyarev bought back the rights to his illustrations and decided to rework them creatively. He says he printed out the diagram and went over it with a pen in hand, adding the first notes about a possible zombie attack.

Together with his agent, Alexey Luri, Degtyarev finished the illustration. “Alexey and I started coming up with different survival scenarios, imagining scenes and characters,” the illustrator told Meduza.

“Where would riot police try to hold the line? Where would the unexpected zombie come from? We spent some time delving into the genre and scattered Easter eggs throughout, carefully inserting references to classics. Then we showered everything in blood and sprinkled it all with spent cartridges,” the illustrator said.

Degtyarev and Luri also consulted a Moscow subway expert, who confirmed that it would be theoretically possible to survive a zombie apocalypse in the city’s underground. “But the smell would be monstrous, if the generators broke down and the ventilation failed. Sooner or later, the survivors would have to move to another location, after gathering their strength,” Degtyarev explained.

You can view Degtyarev’s illustrations in Russian on his LiveJournal blog, or in English at Behance.net.