The zombie-fan horror convention "ZomBcon" returns for the second year, featuring a range of events including celebrity guest actors (Natasha Alam, Norman Reedus, Jon Bernthal, Sean Patrick Flanery) and guest-speaker panels.

Share story

Seattle may be a coffee mecca, the city of grunge and birthplace of technological inventions, but organizers of this weekend’s ZomBcon would like to see it crowned with more of a ghoulish title.

“It seems natural to call [Seattle] the zombie capital of the world,” said Ryan Reiter, founder of ZomBcon, a three-day celebration of everything undead. “Zombie culture has had a huge resonance here. A lot of people here know about it and a lot of people have heard of it.”

It all began back in 2009 when Fremont’s annual Red, White and Dead Zombie Walk brought forth a horde of 4,000 staggering, sunken-eyed attendees — one of the largest turnouts for a zombie event up to that time. Reiter and other organizers realized that zombie culture in Seattle was on a fast rise — the city had a fascination with the living dead that needed to be quenched. Thus, the part-horror, part-comic ZomBcon Seattle was born.

Its success in 2010 led organizers to restage it for a second year. This weekend at the SeaTac Hilton, the convention will host a variety of events such as a “Prom of the Living Dead” masquerade party; celebrity guest visits from actors including Norman Reedus and Jon Bernthal of “The Walking Dead” and Sam Trammel of “True Blood”; plus more than 40 panels — including a neuroscientist explaining the process of scanning a zombie brain.

Reiter believes that interest in the undead has continued to surge in the past few years — he points to TV shows like “The Walking Dead” — and rumors of an alleged 2012 “End of Times” are partially to blame.

“People are preparing themselves for anything,” he said. “In all honesty, of all the genres of horror, the zombie-infection outbreak is the most likely to happen.”

Tamar Bains, a native New Yorker, also noticed Seattle’s odd affinity with the undead when she first moved here — and she has another theory.

“Maybe it’s the gloomy weather and all the pasty people walking around,” she said.

Dressing up is not a requirement to attend the three-day convention, but most do anyway, as part of the fun. Besides, the zombie look is not difficult to create at home. Reiter said that white face paint, fake blood and a tattered piece of clothing lying on the floor will go a long way.

“The idea is really to give people a chance to indulge,” he said. “Or as we like to call it, summon their inner zombie.”

Kirsten Johnson: 206-464-3192 or