Thursday, April 23, 2009
Today I'm The Walking Dead
I was overjoyed to discover this week that the local library has quite a large collection of graphic novels (not to mention manga.) As I poured through the shelves the first thing I decided to check out was a copy of the first volume of Robert Kirkman's "The Waking Dead." I believe Swinebread has been reading these books in comic and trade form, so they've been on my mental "to read" list for a while.
Wow. This story is absolutely brutal. It's some of the darkest narrative I've ever come across, unrelenting in it's abuse of every single character contained within it's pages. There are some to the most disturbing scenes I've ever seen imagined, much less illustrated, in these books.
And it's all positively addictive.
I just finished the 4th volume last night and let me start by saying that any incoherence you detect in this post can be directly attributed to some of the stuff that happened in this novel. These comics are filled with scenes of torture, decapitations, amputations, rape, stabbings, suicides and all of that paled in comparison to some of the final panels in this volume. There were a couple of deaths of protagonists that literally caused me to lose sleep last night they were so disturbing. So I apologize in advance for the fact I'm not typing this on a full tank of gas.
Ostensibly this is a story about officer Rick Grimes who wakes up from a coma to find himself smack in the middle of a zombie apocalypse with his family nowhere to be found. It follows Rick as he searches for, and finds his wife and son and joins a group of survivors who eventually make a "safe" home in an abandoned prison. For the first three volumes I kept thinking how closely the story followed one of my favorite childhood novels: "Watership Down."
This story is not about zombies. The zombies are an ever present menace, but they're never the most frightening thing in this story. The real monsters are the surviving humans. All the zombies want to do is devour the living. That evil pales in comparison to the horrible things these humans do to each other and themselves. We are the monsters here.
Obviously, this sort of thing isn't for everybody. I'm not the strictest parent in the world but these were books I kept out of the hands of my mature kids. But if you have the fortitude to make it through these books I think you'll be rewarded for it. There's a lot of food for thought about the human condition and even the nature of evil in "The Walking Dead." It was well worth the read, and the lack of a good night's sleep.
- Dean Wormer