Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Walking Dead

"How many hours are in a day when you don't spend half of them watching television? When is the last time any of us REALLY worked to get something that we wanted? How long has it been since any of us really NEEDED something that we WANTED?
The world we knew is gone. The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility. 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."

Instead of some kind of story summary, the above text written on the back of every The Walking Dead trade paperback of collected issues pretty much says it all. Yes this is a comic series about a post-apocalyptic world swarmed by zombies, yes there is a considerable deal of crudeness, splatter and vulgarity, but what better way to strip reality of all its superficial and false sense of security we take for granted and we wrap our lives inside?
The Walking Dead is an ongoing comic series drawn in black-and-white published by Image Comics and written by Robert Kirkman. He uses zombies, gore and violence as a background to tell a story of survival, but mostly of human relationships, values and moral challenges. First of all, Kirkman's characters are average everyday people with feelings, weaknesses, phobias etc., and they are anything but solid in their presence throughout the comic; even main characters bite the dust in the blink of an eye, or get severely scarred (physically and mentally). What the reader realizes as one moves through the story is that, while we're talking about a world where the dead walk looking for living flesh to devour, the real terror comes from the very living, as, in such extreme situations, the instinct of survival extends way over basic (as we perceive them today) values like morality, respect, altruism etc.
The series already counts 106 issues (102 of them collected in 17 volumes), and it was ever anything but static or boring, as the geographical background never stays the same for too long, while the characters progress noticeably and utterly believably through their interaction with this ever-changing environment. I've just finished reading vol.17 and I still get mind-blown by the consequential flow of the story and how it all affects the people involved.

In 2010, AMC adapted The Walking Dead into a TV series and, while it doesn't follow the same story down to every little detail, I daresay it makes a really decent effort in transferring the comic's grim and colourless atmosphere on the screen. The series is now in the middle of its third season.

Also, a mention should be made on TellTale's The Walking Dead computer game; a horror adventure divided in episodes where the player assumes the role of a character who has to survive in this new zombie world.

My recommendation, even if you're not a George A. Romero die-hard fan: pick up The Walking Dead in at least one of its forms. Apart from an exciting graphic post-apocalyptic survival tale, it can be a wake-up call to our sense of priorities in life on so many levels.   

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