Before the TV show, there was a comic book series.
This is a difficult review for me to write, partly because the scope of the series is so vast (up to episode 119 and ongoing), and partly because I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, and partly because I haven’t watched the TV series. I’ve been putting it off for a while now.
I’m not an insanely loyal fan who’s been following the series from issue #1. I eventually picked it up a few months ago at the insistent recommendation of Victor, who said it was unputdownable. He even bought me a Surface so that I could read it.
(The purported consensus between the two of us is that I can use the tablet for reading other graphic novels, manga, PDFs, e-books, browsing the web, star-gazing, etc…but I am pretty sure the real reason was The Walking Dead.)
Neither am I a dedicated zombie enthusiast. I’ve always had a fascination for the zombie myth, but apart from enjoying a couple of zombie movies here and there (28 Weeks Later, Zombieland…) and dressing up as a zombie doctor for Halloween 2013, I’ve never really had a chance to delve into the zombie popculturedom. TWD seemed like a great place to start.
The thing about TWD, as you probably have heard, is that it’s less about the zombies themselves than about how humans respond and behave in an apocalypse sort of scenario. Suddenly thrown into a world where survivors are the exception, where you have to roam the country with a weapon at your side to look for food, where you can die at any time, anywhere, humanity’s bleakest and most animalistic instincts emerge. Survivors draw together with tribal loyalty, go to fierce and violent ends to protect their loved ones and become accustomed to callous acts. Children are shaped by this new, unsympathetic reality.
In a way, TWD is a social experiment. My mind drew parallels with The Lord of the Flies. Over time, it emerges that the most sinister enemy is not the ‘walking dead’, but fellow man.
It’s a gory comic, though slightly meliorated by the black and white schematic. Writer and creator Robert Kirkman frequently uses graphic violence, shock tactics and disgust to keep the reader on the edge of her seat, sometimes more than is tasteful/necessary. Few issues are taboo. TWD does seek to explore every possible nuance and consequence of a zombie apocalypse and, for the most part, I think this is done well. We meet complex characters and cringe at the painful decisions they have to make. We feel their fears and pleasures.
So, should you read it? Yes, if you want a zombie story with lots of hacking of brains and action and fights. Also yes if you want a story about human relationship and psyche in hardship, with believable character development. No, if you get attached to characters easily. And no if you are looking for something that will lift your mood. It’s not a happy world!
OK. Hope I didn’t spoil anything major! Is it worth tackling the TV series next? Anyone?