One Week to Geek: The Walking Dead

This is the source link: I think it is fan art? It's pretty righteous, though.

The thing I am most excited about at Wildcat Comic Con, besides meeting all the cool people I’ve been talking to over the past several months (and trying to sell stories about), is the Zombie panel I’m moderating.

The subtitle for our panel started out as something like, “A semi-serious conversation about Zombie Apocalypse.”  The suggestions for questions were mostly about positing hypothetical apocalyptic scenarios and analyzing the morality/ethical issues.

Trouble is, somewhere along the line, the panel presentation scored professional development credit for educators, and two of the panelists are educators themselves, so we decided the panel had to be a little more than “semi-serious.” So instead, I get to ask three incredibly smart people about zombie art & literature that has stretched or defined the boundaries of zombie representations since like 1960 (even earlier, but that bit of it is a secret).

I am most excited about the movie, Pontypool.  If you haven’t seen it, do.  Prior to Pontypool, the Zombie movies I’d seen were Night of the Living Dead, Shaun of the Dead, and The Serpent and the Rainbow.

Today I started my Zombie Lit Binge with none other than The Walking Dead.  I read the first and second volumes of the graphic novel series, and I have watched the full first season of the AMC show.  I’ve written about it here.

Next up is World War Z, and I will finally read 1that Lovecraft Story (ugh), and anything else I can get my hands on that the panelists will recommend.  I have some scholarly journal article titles from them, and I’m pretty sure I’ll get more excited the more I read.

The Comic is not bad…

**Style Side Note:  See what I did there with that ellipsis?  That’s the right way to use an ellipsis, to intentionally suspend gratification for the reader, or to signify halted speech in dialogue**

Listen, I’m new to graphic texts.  Maybe I’m getting it wrong, or my snobbery is carrying over or something.  But Here’s what I think about the graphic novel series based on the first two issues:

Compelling characters, pretty poorly written (in terms of literary chops), and a riveting, endlessly developable premise.  I dig how it brings brass tacks of post-zombie-apocalypse life to bear.

And listen, I get it about how writing a comic book is more like writing a script than writing a novel, and about how the comics market calls for non-pretentious dialogue, and I also get it about accessibility.

But something that bugs me all the time is when writers overuse bold and italics to help me hear the characters in my head.  I’m a reader.  I will hear the characters in my head regardless of how the writer does, and if I hear them differently, then their italics and bolds will be totally distracting, and totally unnecessary, and for me–totally off-putting.

In The Walking Dead series of comics, the written emphasis is totally overdone.

Besides that, they over-tell me stuff.  The real finesse of doing a graphic text is not over-writing, and not over-illustrating.  The two halves of the thing must be symbiotic, and they must guide me, but they mustn’t bash me over the head.  Here’s an example from the text:

Should be obvious how it’s over-written, but let’s just say this:  On the page before, we see these well-clad, healthy people approaching our group.  We already saw (in the last book) Rick and Shane wind up in fisticuffs, and not re-telling that story here wouldn’t do anything detrimental to the story in Vol 2.  Also, readers who begin a serial somewhere other than Vol. 1 expect to have to deal with some story swiss cheese, you know?

Also, about the art?  I liked the art in the first one more than the art in the second one.  The first volume is drawn by Tony Moore, the second by Charlie Adlard.  I was disappointed as a reader by the non-continuity. While there were aspects of the second edition’s art that were darker, more intense, I was kind of thrown off by the slightly different faces of the characters, the differently rendered facial hair.  Even the characters behaved differently.  For example, in the first book, Donna’s kind of a judgy jerk, in the second, she’s sweet and round and everbody’s sad when she dies.

Here’s rick from Vol 1 and Vol 2:

Walking Dead Vol 1's Rick
Walking Dead Vol 2's Rick

The TV Show is Fun

I think the thing that gets me is how Andrew Lincoln so beautifully disguises his British accent to put on that podunk one.

But I also think that the characters’ intensities translate really well to the TV medium, and that the show has made some pretty excellent choices about the plot of the book.  For example, In the graphic novel series, Alan is a more sympathetic character than Donna, but in the TV show, it’s Alan who’s a jerk (an abusive one) and who gets killed.

In all, I think that The Walking Dead–both TV and book–buck the focus-on-the-final-hours schtick of most Zombie stuff.  I think that after cultural Zombie Mania dies out (will it?), perhaps people’s interest in The Walking Dead will, too, because it will certainly become (more than it already is) a Soap Opera with Zombies.  Which will be cool for the final episode… I mean, Zombies really don’t require an inciting incident to descend and feed.

What Will Become of Weeks to Geek posts?

I don’t know yet.  I’d love your input.  I have lately considered starting the week after the Con with 51 Weeks to Geek and reading a graphic novel every week until next year.  There are certainly plenty to read, we probably have half that many here in our house, and some I’ve become extremely interested in as I’ve done these interviews: Maus, Persepolis.

I’d basically review the graphic novel and talk about whatever else it makes me think about or how it correlates with my life…

Anybody say yea or nay?  Other ideas?