on December 21, 2005
I was out of the comic book reading hobby for several years, but I have to say that I was glad that i came back to reading comic books again. One of the first titles that hooked me this second time around was Kirkman's The Walking Dead for Image Comics. I have to say that its taken the current renaissance of zombie films and books and ran away with it.
Using the same slow, shambling zombies that Romero first made popular with Night of the Living Dead and its subsequent sequels, Kirkman continues the story where Romero usually ended his films. All those times people have wondered what happened to those who survived in zombie films need not imagine anymore. Kirkman has created a believable world where the dead have risen to feast on the living, but has concentrated more on the human dynamic of survival in the face of approaching extinction.
I won't say that the story arc collected in this first volume has little or no zombies seen, but they've taken on more as an apocalyptic prop. One can almost substitute some other type of doom in place of zombies and still get a similar effect (as was done in Brian K Vaughn's equally great series, Y: The Last Man). What Kirkman's done is show how humanity's last survivors are now constantly, desperately adapting to a familiar world through unfamiliar circumstances. Characters from the start make the sort of mistakes regular people would make when they don't know exactly everything that is happening around them. Instead of chiding these people as one reads their story, we sympathize and hope for their continued survival.
I am hopeful that the rest of the collected trades will be equal to and maybe surpass this first story-arc. Already kirkman's done more to realizing the universe Romero created than alot of the hack filmmakers who have taken Romero's idea and cannibalized it for their own profit. I consider The Walking Dead as a must-read for anyone looking to find something different from all the costumed superhero titles.
on October 18, 2005
All right. So I walked into this comic store and spotted this graphic novel on the shelf and bought it. Why not? I dig Brian Keene. I dig Romero. Why the heck shouldn't I dig this?
I took it home. Read it. Read it again.
The next day I was back in the comic book store, hunting up volume 2. And volume 3.
I'm a believer. This is such a well written thoughtful story. The zombies are secondary to the plot and charecterization. It kind of reads like a soap opera B-movie. Wonderfully compelling. I handed it off to my wife, who hates zombies, and she loved it.
Like the dead things we are, we'll keep coming back for more of THE WALKING DEAD. I recommend this one highly.
on February 15, 2005
Let's talk, for a second or two, about the coming Zombie Apocalypse, the subject of Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore's ambitious and brutally beautiful graphic novel series "The Walking Dead".
Let me break the bad news to ya, big guy. You're not going to survive it.
Everyone watches zombie flicks with the notion that they'll survive. They're going to be one of the shotgun-toting mall-rustling heroes when it dawns on everybody that the Army ain't showing up.
Well let's put it to you this way: the Zombie Apocalypse is coming, and you're not going to make it. You're going to go get your mail, or be carrying your groceries out of the supermarket, and that's when you're going to meet your first Zombie. You've got a billion things flying through your noggin, Champ: pick up the kids, college tuition, your crazy stock portfolio, war and rumors of war, bio-terrorism, the big presentation at the Office tomorrow.
The Zombie is very Zen. It clears its mind. It has one single, driving purpose: it wants to sink its yellow tusks into your flesh and sample a little human pad thai.
Isn't that the way it always is---these things, like summer guests, always occur when you're just not prepared?
That's the guts of "The Walking Dead". Writer Kirkman states out front that he's less interested in a straight-out horror story---zombies springing out of the darkened woods and chowing down on some filet-au-Bob---than he is in exploring the dark thickets of the human brain exposed to what Kirkman calls "Extreme Situations".
The story follows Kentucky police officer Rick Grimes, thrown into a coma after a routine traffic stop goes bad. Just like "28 Days Later" he wakes up in an empty hospital. He buzzes on the nurse call-button; nobody shows up to help him. Which is, as we will shortly find out, probably a good thing.
Why? Because the hospital---most of it, anyway---is a tomb. Dead. Silent. There's a corpse, supine, fallen between elevator doors, his guts exposed, partially devoured. But for that single dead man, Grimes finds, to his horror, the hospital is deserted.
Of course, there's the matter of the lunchroom, stuffed to the grills with the Living Dead.
You could call it "While you were Sleeping", but it's not romantic, and it certainly isn't a comedy. While Grimes was out cold, the World Ended. The Dead Walked, and ate, and infected. Civilization ground to a halt. His town is dead; his house, run down; his wife and son, missing. The neighbor's house claimed by squatters. Word is everyone has gone to Atlanta, where the military has cordoned off the city and is protecting civilians. Grimes, in search of his family, in search of answers, takes a police cruiser and heads South.
To be sure, in zombie flicks I always root for the flesh-eaters, and here, whatever Kirkman says, you're reading "The Walking Dead" to see zombies, not follow a soap opera. But happily, Rackerton invests enough details in these characters to make them compelling: each has an agenda, obsessions, private vices, prejudices.
In other words, real people.
It certainly doesn't hurt Kirkman's story to have an artist as fine as Tony Moore bringing his vision to life. The black & white panels, the shadings, the crispness of the art---all of it is gorgeous, helping to accentuate the horror, but also to highlight the brutal beauty of a world gone feral.
Life, say the Buddhists and Christians, is Suffering. Suffering shapes us, molds us, ennobles us or breaks us apart. This is what is at work in "The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye": you see the characters change, shift, mutate, evolve---into stronger creatures, true, and into weaker, viler, sneakier creatures as well.
But if this is a hard world, Tony Moore's artwork makes it a bleakly gorgeous one. Take a hard look at the scene around a campfire in a wintery wood, seconds before horror intrudes: the downy snow, the shaded woods of the thicket, the faces sunk in shadow, backlit by the fire.
Some scholar once said that the Living can never stand up to the Dead: they are too many, and their hungry, avid minds are not freighted with the conscience of the Living.
Kirkman and Moore have put that contention into question in their first auspicious volume of the "Walking Dead". Doubtless the Dead will Walk, and the Walking will die---but who will survive, and what will become of them?
I'm hungry for more.
on May 17, 2004
Brilliant artist Tony Moore takes a superb script by Robert Kirkman to give us a fresh retelling of the "zombie world order" horror story. Inkwash over pen and ink works perfectly to convey a human tale of survival at the end of civilization. This book is a character study with examples of courage, cooperation and compassion balanced by equally well rendered paintings of human fear and envy. I usually walk by black and white comic books, but this one wouldn't have been as good in color. 2004 is not quite halfway over, but I doubt I'll read a work of fiction this year I'll enjoy more.
In his introduction to this first collection of "The Walking Dead" series, writer Kirkman explains that rather than a simple gorefest, his goal was to create a character-based storyline which realistically shows what one person might face when civilization collapses. While he has certainly done that, he hasn't brought anything particularly new to the table. There are plenty of captivating stories about how human nature works under such stress, from William Golding's classic "Lord of the Flies", to Thomas Disch's science-fiction "The Genocides", to Portuguese Nobel laureate Jose Saramago's brilliant "Blindness". In this initial six-book collection, Kirkman shows us nothing we haven't seen before, either in film or literature.
The story starts, as many have pointed out, with a situation almost identical to the excellent British film 28 Days Later, with the protagonist waking from a coma in a hospital and then stumbling out to discover what's happened to the world. However, before everyone runs around yelling "rip-off" (oops, too late for that) it needs to be pointed out that this series was pitched to Image in 2002 and was ready to be launched in Spring 2003, but was bumped to a Fall release. Meanwhile, 28 Days Later hit wide release in the US in June 2003 , and Kirkman has said in many interviews that while he was shocked to see the same opening hook, he never considered going back to rescript the opening. In any event, it's not a big deal, but hopefully that dispels any notion of plagiarism.
So, after waking from his coma, Kentucky small-town cop Rick must try and figure out what happened while he was recovering from a gunshot wound, and where any other survivors are. There are the standard scenes one might expect: he visits home, gathers supplies, and makes a plan to head to Atlanta to look for his wife and son. His journey slowly acclimates him to the horror of the situation, but nothing can prepare him for the literal army of the dead he finds in Atlanta. Fortunately, he hooks up with a tiny band of 10-15 survivors outside of the city. The rest of the book is about the group's attempt to band together in the face of adversity and form some kind of new community. Kirkman does a fairly good job of this, although people seem a good deal less traumatized by the situation than one might expect. The only character I totally bought was the mechanic who was practically catatonic after seeing his whole family ripped apart in front of him.
As in all such end-of-the-world stories, a new pecking order among the humans starts to emerge, leading to tension and conflict. One of the catalysts for this is the question of whether or not the group should stay where they are. This debate is a little strange, in that it's only really held by two characters, and their camp is totally indefensible. This is where the book gets a little unrealistic -- the characters seem a good deal too carefree to the danger all around them, and naturally, there are several zombie incidents as a result. Still, a sequence where the hero takes a dangerous run into town to get some guns, and the subsequent training of everyone with guns is nicely done. Especially when the hero and his wife argue about whether or not their kid should carry a gun. This six-book arc ends with an excellent climax, and made me a little more interested in picking up volume two.
The artwork tends to be a little too flat and simple for my taste, with fairly even shading. However whenever there are zombies to be shown, these are given plenty of attention and detail, creating a kind of discrepancy in styles that I found a little awkward. One reviewer wrote that it resembles movie storyboard art, and I tend to agree. On the whole, the book was fine, just not that original -- but I'll be back to check out more.
Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye (Image, 2004)
Days Gone Bye is the first installment of what Robert Kirkman promises will be an epic graphic novel. (As I write this, Days Gone Bye has been out for less than a year, and vol. 3 is due to come out any day now; Kirkman is really cranking away on this one.) While it opens with one of the most common scenes in modern zombie lit, Kirkman's stated intention is very different than much of what we've seen recently, and at least in the first installment, the practice goes hand in hand with the theory.
Rick Grimes is a Kentucky cop who gets himself shot at the opening of the story. He wakes up from a coma some time later to find a deserted hospital. Upon searching, he finds that the walking dead of the title have pretty much taken over the planet. Rick heads for Atlanta, seeking his wife and child, and meets up with a group of survivors. While zombies form the frame of the story, what's at the core of this book is the dynamics between the survivors; the zombies are just the spice to their meat.
This is exceptional stuff. If the series continues to be this good, I can easily see it taking a place beside Watchmen on my very, very short shelf of the graphic novels I liked so much I actually went out and bought copies. ****
Ask any given zombie fan what their favorite zombie flick is.
Chances are they'll name something from the Romero catalogue.
Ask the same zombie fan what their favorite zombie book is;
if they have an answer at all, it'll probably be "The Walking Dead"
DO NOT EXPECT A GOREFEST.
Of course there is blood and violence.
But that's not what's at the heart of this ongoing series.
This black & white tale is totally character driven.
You'll love some, and hate others,
but regardless you'll always be sad to see them go.
I laughed, I almost cried (if you have a wife and kids you'll understand)
I flinched, I yelled into the pages.
From soup to nuts, this series has got it all.
Some interesting zombie ideas too(ie: they hunt by scent)
If you call yourself a serious fan of the zombie sub-genre
you need to own this.
Hell, even people who aren't too crazy about zombies should own this.
This isn't just a good zombie series
It's good writing in general
And (dare-I say) possibly the greatest piece of graphic literature put to paper.
Long after you close the back-cover it'll stay with you.
And trust me, you'll be buying the rest of them once you're done.
MORAL OF THE STORY:
Individuality is the only thing that separates us from the undead.
on May 23, 2015
Now we all know it's a good story. It'd be hard to believe that many of you are here by random, and this is the first time you've heard of the walking dead.
So, I won't waste your time by quoting the book, or writing a short synopsis about it, instead, I'll tell you what I cared most about while buying it, who to buy it from for the best quality.
I went with symposia, they sold it for a mere 5.99 (plus shipping), and the quality was great. Paperback, as promised, and the pages won't ware out any time soon.
As for the packaging, I wasn't disappointed, but I wasn't impressed either. It came in a big square box filled with packing peanuts that you had to dig through to get to the somewhat thin book at the bottom. I was careful so I could be sure not to mess up the pages myself, but I don't know how careful you'd have to be, honestly.
Honestly, as the cheapest way to go, it did just fine.
on August 31, 2005
I bought this book basically on the title alone. I was very happy with what I found inside. This is a story of a man that awakens from a coma to find the world overrun with the undead. The story is very reminiscent of Romero's films, very character driven with the zombies as part of the background and not a goofy gorefest. Great plot, great artwork. It's highly addictive (for myself and those I've loaned it to).
on August 22, 2004
With some reluctance I picked up the "Days Gone Bye" trade about two months ago. I had sworn off zombie comics and horror comics in general due to a serious lack of quality amongst the books that I was reading. I had been hearing nothing but praise for "The Walking Dead" for months so I decided to go out and pick up a copy of the trade. I figured for $10 I couldn't go wrong. I decided to give it a shot. Now, when I started reading it I was a little disapointed. I thought it was a bit goofy acutally but I decided to read on. As the book progressed I began to see that Kirkman was actually utlizing the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse as a canvas to tell some seriously intense stories about the hope and perserverance of the human spirit in the face of terrible adversity. Rick Grimes[the main character] and company come off as a very real, very well developed characters. I found myself beginning to care for them very quickly. It turns out that as the story goes on, and the inevitable dread that follows a zombie infested world begins to take shape, the true horror of this comic begins to reveal itself. Although chock full of zombies, the real horror of this book is the things that the living members of the book have to endure in order to survive. Or rather, attempt to survive. As of this writing the book is up to issue #9 in monthly format. # 9 was the absoulte best comic I've read this year so far. This book can only get better.