Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Drawing Conclusions: The Walking Dead

Image Comics 2010

I first made the acquaintance of the series during my first Dewey’s Read-a-Thon, when I was looking for graphic novels to entertain Mr. BIP; we’ve both become completely hooked.

I was struck by the comments in the introduction, including this one: “This is a very character driven endeavor. How these characters get there is much more important than them getting there.”

At the heart of that is Rick, of course. Through the last twelve volumes of the series, Rick’s been through a lot.

Well, it’s a series about zombies. You can imagine.

Volume 13: Too Far Gone

In this volume, his character continues to develop. “We’re going to follow the rules, make this work. This is just in case things get ugly.”

Well, it’s a series about zombies. Of course things get ugly.

Circumstances have changed, but Rick’s still at the head of the non-zombie pack.

“I have to make things WORK here. I have to be ready for anything…I have to think three steps ahead of everyone.”

But it’s not simple.

“I’m just doing what need to be done. You can’t see that?”

But it’s just not simple.

That’s why there are three identically drawn panels in this volume: Rick lying face down on his bed.

Volume 14: No Way Out

Image Comics 2011

In this volume, readers are pulled through the whole “has to get worse before it gets better” scenario.

I know what you’re thinking: there are zombies everywhere, so how can it get worse.

The nature of the situation is that there is always a weakness. Things are never as secure as one would hope.

At first it seems only challenging.

“We’ll give it a day or two and then we’ll probably have to do this again. It’s not going to be an easy week or so coming up…but, as long as we stay on top of it, should be manageable.”

But challenging quickly devolves into chaotic and, then, overwhelming.

There is a really great double-page spread in which there are eight long top-to-bottom panels, only an inch wide; each gives a glimpse of the way in which some of the main characters are facing what’s ahead.

I found myself wondering, in the fourteenth volume of the series, if there will ever be an end to the fighting. It’s not that the tales have lost any of their momentum, I just wonder.

And I know that’s what I’m supposed to be wondering. These characters (the few who have been around since the first volume) are wondering exactly the same thing.

But the storyteller is at work. There is an arc to this volume. It’s just that you can’t see it while you’re in the middle of everything. And that, too, is just as it should be.

How about you: are you hooked?

5 comments to Drawing Conclusions: The Walking Dead

  • There’s something about zombies that make me avoid reading about them. If you enjoyed this, I know I will.

    • *giggle* Well, it’s not an immediately appealing topic, I agree. But the characterization in this series adds another layer to it that I find completely gripping.

      BTW, I just picked up another graphic novel series that you recommended, too. (Chew.) I’m looking forward to it!

  • [...] Buried in Print’s post reminded me that I’ve not kept up with this series. This hardcover features issues #13-24 of the hit series along with the covers for each of the issues, all in one oversized hardcover volume. Continuing the tale of Rick Grimes and his band of survivors from the zombie apocalypse that has ravaged the world. [...]

  • I got hooked on this series about two years ago and I’m about as far as you are in the series (I’m not sure if there is anything farther along). The zombie genre can be very limiting, but Kirkland does a great job of reinventing the genre over and over without straying too far from the generally accepted Romero mythology. Great blog, BTW.

    • Thanks, Ryan! And I think you’re onto something with that idea, in that he has retained the “classic” elements and is simultaneously tapping into a character-driven narrative that appeals to contemporary concerns with, well, er, survival. Maybe it just doesn’t get more basic than that?!

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