Monday, October 04, 2010

The Walking Dead, a (Partial) Review

 I say partial in that The Walking Dead is an on-going series, with twelve current trade paperback collections out and that I've only read nine of them as of yet.  With that, I'm really unsure how to go about reviewing what I've read up until now.  Should I review each TPB (as I have quasi-done over on my Goodreads site) individually or should I instead review the overall story as a whole?  If I choose the latter, how spoiler-free can I hope to remain?  Can I mention anything outside of Volume One and still remain spoiler-free?  I think so, but I won't do it.  I shall endeavor to avoid all things that reek of spoilers...

I've long wanted to read Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead.  Zombies have been a part of my life for nigh twenty years now, ever since my mom woke me up late one night to watch a scary movie with her cause she was scared.  The film, to my five year old eyes, was a strange black & white thing with weird, shambling people threatening a group of normal people.  Of course I'm talking about Night of the Living Dead.  Since then, I suppose, zombies have been a part of my life.

Back a few years ago in college, when I was falling in love with graphic novels, I found out about The Walking Dead but I did not have the means to read it, nor did my library have any copies.  Now, after a recent trip to the library (and prompted with a reminder by the upcoming AMC series), I've found that the library has Volumes 1-12.  

The Walking Dead is a story where zombies are relegated to mere background and scenery and the true action takes place with the survivors.  After officer Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma to find a world destroyed and filled with slow-moving, undead things, he knows something terrible has happened.  He sets out to find his wife and son and, along the way, the apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead comes to life.

Characterization is the driving force behind this series.  The survivor's Rick finds along the way each tell a hauntingly similar story.  One day the world was overran by zombies and since then they've struggled to make it.  Food is scarce, as is shelter.  Survivor's are even harder to find.  The undead are everywhere, and in order to survive, one must be quick and resilient.  Indeed, the human drama is powerful story-telling, and Kirkman goes at it with an all-or-nothing approach.  (For example, by the end of Volume Nine, my emotions feel like they've been put through a meat grinder, followed by a wood chopper.  There's just so much going on.)

Illustration is also another beautiful thing about The Walking Dead.  Volume One, Days Gone Bye, is illustrated by Tony Moore, and all issues after are by Charlie Adlard.  Everything is done in a black & white Romero-esqe style, and the lack of colors adds to the bleakness of the story.  The zombies also look very cool and unique, and I applaud the artistic choices of the series.

At times hard to read, this series is very tragic and full of problems.  There are few scenes of happiness and joy.  Death is everywhere.  Uncertainty.  These things make for great story telling and character musing, though sometimes the musing is a bit absurd.

Overall, I've really enjoyed reading Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead.  I'm glad to have finally read some of the series, and I hope the AMC version does it justice.  While many things are cliches, Kirkman also adds in enough originality to make the plot interesting.  The characters are memorable, the art is perfectly fitting, and the drama is high.  If you're a fan of zombie fiction, this is a must-read series.

6 comments:

Mattson Tomlin said...

I JUST picked up the Compendium of Walking Dead, and am just so totally, totally hooked. I don't even LIKE Zombie related media, it's not really my thing, but this one I just find to be really engaging and fun to be a part of.

logankstewart said...

@Mattson: Definitely the kind of story that can sink its hooks into you. The characters are engaging, eh?

Kailana said...

I have a really hard time reviewing series, too. I never know what to say and don't want to say too much...

logankstewart said...

@Kailana: Aye, especially when it comes to reviewing individual books (say, Volume 6 of a 12 volume series). Oh well, I suppose that's why I try not to read reviews for things that I think I may be interested in reading unless it's for a starting volume of a series or a standalone.

Mattson Tomlin said...

It's pretty fantastic. I'm actually afraid to watch the series- as entertaining as that could be, it might just break it for me as well... Maybe best to keep things separate for the time being.

logankstewart said...

Unfortunately I no longer have cable or satellite, so I don't get AMC. Hopefully Hulu or something will have it available, cause I think it looks great.