Pittsburgh history and monsters go together like, well, black and gold. The modern zombie was born here with “Night of the Living Dead” in 1968 and has eaten away at our imaginations ever since.

Matthew Buchholz knows that people can’t get enough of the combination. His Alternate Histories creations often feature vintage historical prints subtly altered into a more monstrous fate — such as massive, tentacled sea monsters lunging out of the Monongahela River or a mega-Andrew Carnegie rampaging Godzilla-like through his city.

For history geeks, sci-fi geeks and geeks in general, the appeal is kind of a no-brainer — particularly the zombies.

An Alternative Histories map of 1876 Pittsburgh shows the location of “Living Dead Outbreaks & Attacks,” credited to mapmakers Romero & Sons. Courtesy of Matthew Buchholz.

What’s also a no-brainer is Buchholz’s decision to open the Alternate Histories Studio at 517 Greenfield Avenue in Greenfield this weekend. There will be a Studio Open House & Trunk Show at the former Staghorn coffee shop from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 12. Masks are required and will be provided.

“Since I started my business in 2010, I’ve been working out of my house, and have just outgrown it,” says Buchholz. “I also want to have some products specifically for the neighborhood like Greenfield bumper stickers, T-shirts, greeting cards — stuff that speaks to love and the pride that people in Greenfield have for the neighborhood.”

Buchholz’s work isn’t confined by the three rivers (although those are bestsellers). In the Alternate Histories universe, the Great Wall of China is constructed to keep marauding dinosaurs out. George Washington wins the Battle of Stony Point with a big assist from a detachment of Martians ­­— and their saucers’ death rays. President Lincoln is at Gettysburg with Vinlar the Destroyer — a giant ape-beast with a robot head — chilling in the background.

Alternate Histories print by Matthew Buchholz.

Buchholz is from Tucson, Arizona, and attended Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. After 14 years in New York, he moved to Pittsburgh and got a job at Wild Card, a gift shop in Lawrenceville that specializes in locally made art, crafts, clothes and cards.

That’s where he started selling his prints and Christmas cards with aliens, dinosaurs, and flying saucers worked subtly into classic Currier and Ives-style prints.

“I ended up staying because I had really fallen in love with the city,” says Buchholz. “And one of the things that I always enjoyed about it was this deep vein of history that is right underneath the surface everywhere in the city.”

Zombie apocalypse print by Matt Buchholz.

Soon monsters began appearing everywhere he looked.

“One of my other loves has always been 1950s and ’60s monster movies, kind of starting with George Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and that history,” he says. “It kind of led me to start thinking about what if there were these other creatures and monsters you know, throughout the region, and I kind of just built out a whole world from that.”

Finding just the right historical poster or print and adding the right monster in the right place is harder than it sounds.

“Generally when I’m creating artwork, it starts with image research — looking at old images and finding things that inspire me. Seeing old pieces that might have negative space, or things that sort of kind of cry out for a monster. But it always derives from an original historic source. When I’ve tried to go the reverse way, of, like, ‘OK, I really want to make a piece that has a zombie doing this or a tentacle doing this,’ it never works as well.”

Matthew Buchholz. Photo courtesy of the artist.

In addition to opening his storefront, Buchholz is busy writing books — about monsters, of course.

“I’ve written a kids’ book that I call a ‘Decide Your Fate’ book, where you get to make choices on each page. You need to decide what kind of monster you want to fight, how you want to defeat the zombies, that sort of thing. I have a new one of those books coming out later this year called ‘Monster Island Escape.'”

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.