OK… I realize I said a while ago that I wasn’t going to review any other horror or zombie related material for a while. I didn’t intend to lie… but I did. After viewing the season finale for the AMC series The Walking Dead, and after saying I wouldn’t read the books because I didn’t want to be spoiled… my curiosity and impatience was piqued and I simply could resist no longer. Beginning a little over a week ago, I caved and purchased Book 1 of The Walking Dead comic series.
A breif explanation of what each “book” contains… The Walking Deadcomic series was begun in October 2003 by creator and author Robert Kirkman. The comic is released monthly and every six months a trade paperback (TPB) is sold. Each book then are TPBs, therefore a years worth of material. Awesome way to suck in a story. As of now, there are six books total representing 72 issues… and issues 73 – 79 currently available as individual comics (there is already a TPB for issues 73 – 78. In less than a week, Mrs. Blahg and I have managed to chew our way through the entire series and I’m already rereading it from the beginning again…. and on top of our obsessive behavior towards the undead, we are both very excited for the release of issue 80 coming out tomorrow… yay! And if you were wondering, yes… that is why I haven’t posted anything in a week. I’ve had the undead on the brain.
The TV series deviates a great deal from the storyline, yet retains the main thrust and major characters as the comic. They do a phenomenal job of getting the casting right and the tone as close to the tone of the books as possible. The artwork, which after the first six issue changed slightly as Tony Moore was replaced by Charlie Adlard, is beautiful. All in black and white (thank goodness… don’t need to see that much red) and wonderfully penciled. The artwork manages to be both subtle in the characters expressions and violently graphic with the horror of what these people are dealing with. In fact, the story itself is referred to as “survival horror”. Also, like the TV series, most of the tale is about the people surviving as opposed to zombie after zombie. Since they don’t have to cram an entire story into a two hour movie, they can spread out a bit… slow things down. Focus on character development and interactions.
At times, the comic veers into cliche… but maintaining a story arc over a period of seven years is impressive, and the genre lends itself to some occasional cheese. Overall though I was shocked at how compelling the story really is. As I mentioned earlier… Mrs. Blahg plowed through these faster than I did… and she has done nothing but make fun of me for my acceptance of comics/graphic novels over the last few years. Now I get to laugh at her and suggest vacationing in San Diego for Comic-Con. My kids got a laugh out of that one.
I will not get into spoilers, but I will say this… the TV series has barely scratched the surface of Book 1… if they stick with the story outlined in the comic (which I hope they do… I don’t mind deviation, but the arc is different) then we have an awesome ride ahead of us. The events that will occur in the near and distant future will be devastating. Also, Andrew Lincoln is great as Rick Grimes, but lately I was thinking Josh Holloway from Lost would have been even better. Just a thought.
I had another book in mind for The Bookshelf… but once I was bitten with The Walking Dead, I had to switch. I wasn’t planning on adding a comic/graphic novel to the shelf for some time… but oh well. It’s just too good to not spread the word a bit. Get out there and read this ongoing series…. unless you don’t have the intestinal fortitude.
Cornelius J. Blahg