Friday, May 01, 2015
Reader's Diary #1147- Robert Kirkman (writer), Tony Moore (artist): The Walking Dead, Vol. 1 Days Gone Bye
Granted The Walking Dead isn't perhaps the most original, at least not the way it begins. Dude in a hospital wakes up from a coma only the find that the world has been mostly taken over by zombies. Whether or not it's the coincidence that Kirkman claims it to have been is not, however, a big sticking point with me. I really loved 28 Days Later and so if it felt familiar, at least it was a good familiar. Plus, it becomes different, and considering that the comic book series now has well over 100 titles, I think it's safe to assume that it grows into a largely unique epic.
I loved the note from Kirkman at the beginning stating that he set out to make this long and epic journey. It wasn't a case where he was testing the success of one before writing another, but he very intentionally wanted the long arc to be the point, to watch a chronic change in at least one character in particular (Rick) after the shock of an unrelentingly bizarre tragedy has struck and becomes the norm. Kirkman also, admirably, says that the best zombie stories are more social commentary than horror and gore, but the horror and gore is gravy. Even in this very first volume the seeds of such commentary are evident as a small group of survivors come together and must learn to integrate their old life values into this strange new dependency.
Tony Moore's artwork was good, reminding me of a less scratchy Jeff Lemire. But oddly, it was the additional gray tones supplied by Cliff Rathburn that ramped up the quality of The Walking Dead. Normally when I see all those extra credits in comic books, I usually think it's a bit much, like listing the caterer to Mr. Downey Jr. in the end scenes for Iron Man. But, the additional gray tones in The Walking Dead really help capture the essence of the scenes, to the point where I had to show it to my wife I was so impressed. There's one scene in particular where the survivors are sitting around a campfire. The fire, though not in the panel, is reflected on their faces from below. The trees in the background are completely black and snow is falling. It's simultaneously lonely and eerie.
Will I read more in the series? I'd like to say yes, but there are so many good comic book series out there that I've begun and plan to finish, and as much as I admire the ambition, 130+ books is a bit intimidating at the moment.