Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hot Zombie Killing Action.

  If zombie movies are you're thing, this week's book could be right up your alley. The Walking Dead is Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's ongoing zombie survival horror epic and it all starts with this book. If you want this 304 page collection (the first year of the story to date), Amazon are currently selling it for $19.95 US (on sale from the usual $35 price).

I'll be up front about this book: I've read it enough times that I could have avoided re-reading it, however it's good that I did. As an ongoing reader of the series, it's easy to forget how the whole sorry tale of woe all begins. And make no mistake, it is a tale of woe, beginning with Rick Grimes waking up in hospital to find his world over-run with zombies, and his wife and child potentially dead. While it's unclear exactly how long it's been since the zombocalypse hit, it's safe to say that it's about 6 weeks in at minimum. By that point the survivors are few and far between, although some hold out hope of government intervention, and Rick rapidly gets his wits about him and heads to Atlanta to search for his family. After arriving on the outskirts of Atlanta, being saved from the cities undead populace, and reuniting with his loved ones (and "best friend") Rick begins to relax. And plan. Which is important, because it's something we rarely get a glimpse of in zombie movies. Invariably the small camp is abandoned in search of something more secure after a slight problem with local zombies, and at that point things go from bad to worse. As the group numbers fluctuate a little you can see the toll showing on all of them, they all seem to age faster the longer they are on the run, and the all struggle to maintain functional relationships with each other, even those they love. This collection ends with the finding of the prison that becomes the main setting of the book for some time, and at just that point things are looking up.

If I have to tell you what happens next,
you probably don't want to read this book.
The art is all black and white (probably for the best, as colour would likely be hard to use consistently for the zombies), and it's clear it's a comic book (no Salvador Larroca phototracing here). There's the odd strange facial expression that doesn't like quite right, and doesn't need to provide any emotional input, but otherwise, I'm happy with it. Those that want to criticise it should go look at the casting managed for the key characters in the TV series based on this material, and you'll see that the faces depicted here are all able to be found in the general population.

The writing is good (not always great, but always good), although occasionally giving too much credit to Rick (he must have been a zombie movie tragic at some point), but it's genuinely believable. At times the characters seem a little bipolar, but I guess most of us would if every day carried the risk of being turned.

It might seem like I'm recommending this book for all fans of zombies, and any that may just be curious, so here's the key thing with The Walking Dead that you may not get from just this one book: while addictive it's very repetitive, depressing, and ultimately desensitising. As things progress from here, the situations continually degrade, and the audience is given the option to either stop reading (unlikely) or ignore the innate horror of it all and move on, just like the characters. Some people would say that's great writing, and while I'm sure it is, it's also downright creepy when you think about it.

All in all, this volume is a good one. It's reasonably priced, well presented, and looks nice on a bookshelf. That said, it's hard to stop reading this series once you start, and that's doubly so if you enjoy watching zombie movies. I'd recommend it to a few groups then: the zombie movie fans, those that enjoyed Apocalypse Now for the character development, and anyone so freaking happy i would make Mickey Mouse want to puke.

Next week, more end-of-the-world madness.

1 comment:

  1. When I first started reading Walking Dead I wasn't sure about the black and white art, but now I wouldn't have it any other way. I think it helps set the stark tone of the world that the characters are living in and also limits the impact of the gore, so that you are always focusing more on what the characters are going through. Great write-up as always Westy - loving this site!