Nunc Scio recommends: The Walking Dead

nuncscio_walkingdead It's no secret that I love Zombies. I will happily tell anyone, at length, about why I think zombies are the greatest monsters created by the idle hands of man. Actually, it's not so much the zombies I love, so much as stories about zombies. They're interesting because they're really more about people and how we behave when the world goes to Hell and fills up with flesh-starved ghouls.

So, it was only a matter of time before I got into Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead. It's an ongoing series put out by Image, and I've been reading it through the attractive hardcover volumes that collect the original monthly books. I like hardcover editions. They look nicer on my book shelf, and I find weekly or monthly comic book collecting a baffling ordeal.

At first, there's not much exceptional about The Walking Dead. The writing is competent, but it ain't Gaiman. Tony Moore's (and later, Cliff Rathburn and Charlie Adlard's) black and white art is nice to look at, and has some great gory bits. But it's not amazing. The story plays off the standard zombie tropes: "the living are the real enemy", "I won't shoot that zombie because it used to be my daughter", and "what's the point of living in a world of monsters?" It's all there. This is well travelled ground for zombiphiles, and TWD doesn't really cover any new thematic ground.

So why do I like it so much?

The answer, I think, is that The Walking Dead manages to be more than the sum of its parts. Kirkman has put together an engaging and plausible survival horror story. It feels real. The plot moves fast, and there are some genuine (and horrifying) surprises along the way. And while the themes are familiar, the extended arc of a 60+ issue series allows Kirkman to get really deep inside them. A Romero film is an exercise in genius, but he's constrained by the standard 90 minute run time. The Walking Dead has room to stretch, and it fills every spare space. The result is an excellent read. It may not be a particularly original zombie story, but it takes the standard living dead story to new realm of depth and reach.

In other words, well worth checking it out. You can find the soft- or hard-bound versions at a lot of bookstores. But your best bet is probably Amazon.