The Walking Dead

Published: 2003 – Present
Author: Robert Kirkman et al


A very human story about zombies

It’s been a while since I read any graphic novels, my excitement over Runaways was tempered by the disappointment that was Buffy, Season 8 and I took a break for a while. The second season of The Walking Deadhas just started and while I enjoyed the first season a lot I was more intrigued by the source material than by getting straight back to the programme. I was assured that the books were very different to their adaptation so I decided to read the first couple of volumes.

Created by Robert Kirkman with illustrations by Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard the Walking Dead tells the story of injured cop Rick Grimes who awakes from a coma to find that the world that he knows has been destroyed. An unknown catastrophe has occurred and zombies now roam the country. His home town is deserted and his wife and son have disappeared. After meeting a father and son who tell him that many people have moved to the city to seek security, Rick travels towards Atlanta. He encounters other survivors including his wife, son and best friend but danger is constant both from the undead and from other survivors.

You would automatically think that a comic book about zombies would primarily be a horror story, and it is the case that there are certainly a number of gruesome scenes when characters are dispatched by the undead but this isn’t a story about zombies. This is a story about how people cope with disaster – how friendships change, how families stick together and how people find comfort in the most appalling circumstances. This is about humans – not zombies.

That isn’t to say that there isn’t plenty of zombie action to keep horror fans happy. The undead pop up every now and again to chase down our heroes and there are plenty of unexpected attacks and the occasional shocking death to keep readers on their toes. Kirkman isn’t afraid to kill off leading characters in order to move the narrative along which makes for an exciting read. There is a danger though of too many characters being killed and replaced which will stop the reader developing a relationship with and empathy for the characters. I’ve now read 2 of the 16 volumes available and I hope there aren’t too many “shock value” deaths.

The quick turnover in characters also leads to confusion in the illustrations. I had to read several pages a few times just to differentiate between the characters, a couple of whom looked exactly the same on the first reading. Perhaps I was also slightly thrown by the slight change of look as the main illustrator changed from Tony Moore to Charlie Adlard. I’d also like to see some of the characters given a little more prominence, particularly Glenn. Yes, Rick is the hero and the focus must be on him but there are other characters who could play a bigger role.

Overall though I really enjoyed The Walking Dead and am glad my husband persuaded me to read it. I have the next 14 volumes ready and will be getting through them over the next couple of weeks. I’m still unsure if graphic novels are entirely my thing but as long as the quality is as good as The Walking Dead then I’m prepared to keep giving them a go.

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  1. I’ve heard good things about this series. I’m not a huge graphic novel fan, but I might have to try it out. :)

    • Yeah, I’m a bit mixed on graphic novels but I liked these, although I’ve only read the first two or three volumes. Will need to get on with the rest of them. We’ve got them all as my husband loves them.

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