"An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled-- no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living" -- p.  of cover.
But this means it will all never end. What I want is for the characters to successfully build a new civilization and fly off into the sunset, utopia in their wake. But The Walking Dead is very specifically design to stop that from happening: it's about the impossibility of human kindness in these circumstances. Or perhaps, all circumstances. No matter what you do, someone else will come along and screw it up. For the series to end, positively or negatively, would be dishonest, so it must continue to lurch forward from contrived plot to contrived plot, aimless like the zombies that litter its pages. And like the main characters often do, I feel like I should end it all because nothing worthwhile is ever going to happen... yet I'll continue to slog through until the bitter end, because knowing is better than not knowing, even when there's nothing good to know.
The very beginning of this story is so exactly like '28 Days later' that it's tough not to compare them. But as the story moves on it's not much like most zombie stories, mostly because this is very much about very real people--not heroes, not bigger-than-life people, but real people, just trying to stay alive. This is a strength of the story, though it can also be a weakness, as nothing altogether enormous happens. They just continue to try to survive, and often they fail.
The art is right on and the sight of the zombies never really gets tired. Our hero, Rick, changes as the story changes, and after the big finale at the end of this compendium he's likely to change a lot more. This is sort of a zombie-based soap opera: it just keeps going, just like life, albeit in a difficult and strange world.
I have a couple of problems with comics, overall. First problem is that I read too damn fast for comics. When they’re $2 to $3 apiece and I blow through an issue in about 15 minutes, that’s just not a cost-effective type of entertainment. Maybe it would have been better back in the days when they were a quarter each, but those days aren’t now, and I just don’t get enough enjoyment out of a single issue.
The other problem I have is that since I rarely read them, I’m not really connected to that world and type of storytelling. I do enjoy the occasional Marvel film and I like their heroes, but I’m not used to the comic/graphic novel medium at all. I tend to save what little comic reading I do to big compendiums and omnibus collections, since they’re somewhat more cost-effective overall. I did read, for instance, Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men, but that was mostly because it was Joss and I’d just run out of Firefly at the time.
So, with all that being said, let’s move on to the review.
The Walking Dead: Compendium One is a collection of the first 8 volumes (smaller collections) of the series. This covers a fairly large area of the series chronology, and the book was heavy enough that I’m pretty sure it bruised my ribs from reading it in a reclining position.
The first volume, while not exactly the same, is pretty closely tied to the first season of the show, so that kind of felt like watching a repeat. The major difference was that, where some of the scenes in the show were very powerful, the comic felt sort of abbreviated, which at first inclined me more toward the TV show. It’s difficult going from the adaptation back to the original material, because sometimes you end up liking the adaptation more.
After I got past volume one, that’s when shit started to get real, if you’ll pardon the expression.
I love zombies. Man, do I love them. I’ve logged probably close to 500 hours on Left 4 Dead & its sequel, I’ve seen several zombie movies (although I still need to see Zombieland), but I’ve never read or seen anything quite like this comic before. It’s so real, it’s so visceral, and I’ll be damned if it’s not more bloodthirsty and gut-wrenchingly brutal than George Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire.
My plan is to avoid spoilers (although I really, really want to talk about some of them) so I won’t go into any plot stuff. Part of me wants to go start buying the smaller volumes just to continue the story, even though at $8 each I’m going to have a hard time justifying the cost.
Only know this: if you want a frank, bleak and so-real-it’s-disturbing look at the world following the zombie apocalypse, and you haven’t yet tasted Robert Kirkman’s engrossing writing and the stark, black & white visuals of The Walking Dead, you really should read this compendium.
Just don’t get attached to anyone.
Reading the same computer-generated lettering over and over --- there's something numbing about that.
Robert Kirkman (Author)
Charlie Adlard (Illustrator)
Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator)
Tony Moore (Illustrator)
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication date: 5/6/2009
I’ve reviewed my fair share of post-apocalyptic and zombie novels over the years (i.e. Patrick Cronin's The Passage, Mira Grant's Feed, Z.A. Recht's Plague of the Dead and Thunder and Ashes, to name but a few.) The reason for this is because I believe the two compliment each other in many ways and, being devoted to both, I just can’t seem to get enough of either. It should come as no surprise then that I'm a fervent fan of the AMC TV series The Walking Dead. This particular review will contain elements of both the Graphic Novel and the AMC TV series but primarily focuses on the graphic novel and why I think it's better than the TV show, although the show gets a few well-deserved compliments, as well.
The Graphic Novel
1) The zombies in the graphic novel are infinitely more frightening to me than those in the TV show. And, not for the reasons you might think. The TV series depicts the zombies in all their gruesome glory and they are disgusting and hyper-ugly (and totally freakin’ awesome, BTW) but the illustrations in the graphic novels treat the zombies in a way the TV show can't. The graphic novel artists have created zombies that somehow seem slightly more human than zombie and there is an emotional severing that takes place when they are destroyed. And that freaks. the. daylights. out of me. The zombies on TV, on the other hand, are obviously monsters that have lost all humanity and putting a bullet (or any other metal object) into their heads feels justified and necessary, like putting down a rabid animal before it hurts someone. [The only real exception to this idea was the deeply emotional demise of a zombiefied Sophia a few episodes ago.] The artwork in the graphic novel is compelling and poignant and makes zombie killing feel more like murder than an act of mercy or compassion. It’s not just a chore that needs to be done and there is a perceived sympathy depicted in the body language and facial expressions of the characters after each zombie slaying. (All bets are off during a zombie mob attack, though.) You’ll see that the dichotomy of these opinions and feelings mirror those of two main characters; Herschel, who saw the zombies as people who might eventually be cured, and Rick, who knows better.
2) The deaths of a few of the main characters in the graphic novel feel more logical and better spaced than in the TV series. In one case it took much too long for a certain character to be red-shirted. Now, this might simply be a matter of having read the book first and may be influenced by the events of the graphic novel but I feel the TV show might have flowed better had they followed similar arcs. But again, that's clearly only my opinion.
NOTE: MAJOR SPOILER ALERT AHEAD - If you have not had a chance to view the second to last episode of Season 2 “Better Angels” (Air Date 3/11/12) please read no further. A major spoiler will be revealed in 10, 9, 8… Last chance… 7, 6, 5… Turn back now… 4, 3, 2… You’ve been warned.
3) The front cover of Compendium One is a brilliant and a significant depiction of the entire essence of the story. If you look closely enough you'll see mirror images of the same people both as humans (on the top) and as zombies (beneath.) So, this tells me that either everyone in the story becomes a zombie at some point or... everyone in the story is already infected and doomed to become a zombie when they die. With Shane dying at Rick’s hands and then coming back as a zombie without being bit it's a sure sign that everyone will soon find out that they carry the strain of the plague within them that will, after their death, turn them into zombies.
4) What the graphic novel does with dialogue is very clever. It’s short and concise and there are no wasted words. I suspect that’s because saving space in comics is key. There are many long scenes in the TV show where extended dialogue has to take place to tell the back story or to set up future events but the graphic novel does this with much less dialogue (thus the hefty 1088 pages and more art.) Chalk it up to the skills of the writer and illustrators for telling the story better through the use of more illustrated panels than wasted dialogue.
Now that I’ve discussed why the graphic novel is better here are a few elements where I think the TV show surpasses the graphic novel.
The AMC TV Series
1) The TV show has a nice flowing storyline with somewhat long, easy to follow scenes while the graphic novel jumps from perspectives and story-lines rather quickly, sometimes within a page or two. If you’re not paying attention it can trip you up a little and get confusing.
2) The make-up and special effects in the TV show are excellent and many of the zombies are so gruesome and the zombie killing scenes so gross that the 12 year old boy in me jumps with joy every time a zombie head gets splattered to mush or staved in by an axe. More brains, please…
3) Like the TV series Lost, the creators of The Walking Dead are not afraid to kill off a main character or two just to push the plot along or intensify the suspense elements of the show. For instance, while both Shane and Dale die in the graphic novels they do so under very different circumstances than the TV show. Watching the series then has provided surprise elements that I could not predict and are therefore surprising to me when they happen even though I’ve read the graphic novels. And, I like surprises.
4) Since the graphic novel is completely rendered in black and white it fails to take advantage of the shock and awe of full-color zombie head shots, dropped body parts, sloughing skin and dangling eyeballs. The TV show capitalizes on this with an occasional scene bursting (bad pun intended) with full-color gore, blood, guts, and, of course, more brains.
The Walking Dead Compendium, Volume One - Graphic Novel - should appeal to zombie lit lovers, Social Science Fiction fans, post-apocalyptic genre readers, drama enthusiasts, those who expect gore galore in their graphic novels, comic book devotees, horror fans, and 12 to 112 year-old boys and girls (but not the squeamish.)
Oh, and, for what it’s worth, stay out of the barn and the prison barber shop.
The Walking Dead – Compendium, Volume One – Graphic Novel
5 out of 5 stars
The Walking Dead – AMC TV Series
5 out of 5 Stars
I think they're going to make a tv series out of this, which will probably be horrible. :( I bet there will be a terrible soundtrack to it as well including a ton of songs I hate. Yeah, that sounds about right.
Raccolta dei primi volumi di "The walking dead" da cui è stato tratto l'omonimo telefilm. Il voto è globale rispetto al volume, ovviamente ci sono capitoli veramente belli, ricchi di azione e molto splatter. La nota negativa per me è stata la continua presenza di spiegoni (perchè siamo arrivati qui, ricapitoliamo come abbiamo deciso di organizzarci etc...) che appesantiscono la trama. Personalmente trovo che in questo tipo di graphic novel debba predominare l'azione rispetto alla riflessione.
Pack of the former volumes of "The walking dead" that inspired the homonymous telefilm. I gave the star rating to the whole volume, of course some chapters are 5 stars ones, engaging, full of action and splatter. The drawback in my opinion was the huge presence of reasoning and explanation (why we got here, how we decided to organize ourselves etc...) that slow the plot evolution.
I think that in this kind of graphic novel the action has to prevail the reflection.
Aside from the completely grim nature of the book, Kirkman seems to be covering the same ground over and over again: People are bad, mmkay? Maybe worse than the zombies. I get it. I do. I understand that this isn't really a zombie book so much as a book about human nature and the reality of life when all social and governmental structure has collapsed. Other graphic novel series and television programs, and prose novels, etc. have dealt with this idea (Y: the Last Man, Lost), but Kirkman's vision is unrelenting in its negativity. Yes, people are dicks, and there are those in this world who are completely evil, but I can't help thinking there's more to humanity than that. Is anyone in Kirkman's world, other than Rick and Co. capable of retaining any moral sense? Kirkman's missing the boat on exploring all aspects of human nature. The reason this book gets three stars instead of two is the size of Kirkman's balls. He takes risks with his characters, and the are no magical, deus ex machina hay endings for anyone. I like that.
Also, I'm not a fan of Adlard's work. It's sloppy and for the first several issues of his run, I had a hard time telling characters apart. I really found myself missing Tony Moore's work - he did vol. 1. Moore is a master of facial expression. Adlard got better as the series went on, but I never really warmed up to his work.
Anyway, I'm not sure I'm going to continue. Maybe if another compendium comes out, I'll pick it up, but I don't think I have the emotional energy to read this on a regular basis.
* The 12 and 14-year-olds in the house love the television show and enjoy graphic novels so when I got this I thought we could all read it. No way in hell. The show is violent and so is the compendium but the sex and language in the book is just too much. Today's teens may be desensitized to violent stuff going down but the amount of sex and innuendo is just too much. Plus the language is far too... realistic. Great for me, great for them when they're 20.
* When I consider the amount of artwork that went into this thing I'm just flabbergasted. Sure some people like to draw but this is 1000+ pages. Wow. You have to respect that.
* I'm a bit of an anal retentive book nerd so when I got this I was in mortal fear of the binding. It's huge. It's heavy. I expected a split spine within 200 pages. Not so. I've come to the end and the binding is as perfect as ever. Color me relieved.
* I've seen the series. I've read the first compendium. On the series the characters do seem somewhat better developed; probably because it's been pretty hard for me to tell people apart. In the compendium the theme seems to be better preserved. We seem to see these people spiraling down into depravity with greater acuteness. Could be my imagination too but that's just my sense.
* In general I don't do a lot of graphic novels and it took me a while to adjust to the reading order for the bubbles and I still don't pay nearly as much attention as I should to the illustrations. I'm just reading bubbles 90% of the time. It may be perhaps useful to the uninitiated to suggest slowing your reading pace to take in the whole thing rather than just racing through the words.
* From a plot standpoint the story for the show seems to stick to the general outline of the original but only vaguely. It's recognizable as derived from the same source but that's about it. Don't expect to find all your favorite characters.
In summary, I can see what all the fuss was about."
Popsugar Reading Challenge 2015 | Task 49: Book turned into a TV show.
Yes, there is a bit too much Marty Sue and insta love. And yes, it takes awhile before the female characters are allowed to step up -[the prison leadership discussion was particularly stupid, and I don't buy it. Additionally, it seemed to be brought up and then dropped right away. And what is it with the women always on top except for Lori?
But I still enjoyed it.
These are quite different from the show, although it is possible to see where the show came out of them.
I really loved this! Can't wait for the next one!
That being said, I loved this book. It is dark, disgusting and delightful (surprisingly). These are not the people from the show and some of the characters are frustrating. But I do feel like it's showing a group that are dealing with horrors and trauma without having the opportunity to process what's going on around them. The narrative is fast paced and unrelenting with fantastic art. All these elements come together to create a realistic world that is completely falling apart.