To prepare, I wanted to read the source material. I had to see how far the show veered away from its origins and get some hints on where it might go from here.
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler, inker: Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard
Grey tones: Tony Moore, Cliff Rathburn
Cover: Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn
Genre: Post-apocalyptic horror
Publisher: Image Comics
From: Local library
Reviewing: Issues 1-18; Chapters 1-3
Recap: Officer Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma to an eerie silence. Instead of doctors and nurses, the hospital is full of flesh-eating zombies. Rick sets off to find his wife and son in this dangerous, post-apocalyptic world.
Review: I loved the first season of The Walking Dead. It started off with an amazing pilot, and although it went down in excitement a bit after that, any TV show with zombies ranks pretty high on my list. However, I didn't know what to expect from the comic.
The Walking Dead comic, of course, is packed with zombies and zombie killings, but it focuses on the humans who are left and their relationships as they try to survive. The characters understandably get on each other's nerves. In the show, they depiction of these annoyances and personality conflicts make the characters seem petty. In the comic they come off as real people. It's not about the zombies. I love how much of the story is told with images instead of words. It sets an atmosphere of loss and desperation. No one expects to live long, but somehow they have hope that things will get better.
Artwork: I am relatively new to graphic novels and tend to gravitate towards ones with cartoonish drawings and lots of white space. The Walking Dead is the opposite of that. There is so much ink that many of the panels look black. For this comic, it works. It's amazing how realistic and elaborate the drawings are. There's a lot of detail, especially on the zombies. The color scheme is black and white with grey shading, and the shadows really add to the story. It's quite noir.
For so few people left in the world, this story has a lot of characters. I don't know why, but all the white guys look alike to me, especially when everyone has black hair. It was especially hard to keep the men straight after they changed their clothes or grew beards. Luckily, there are a lot of different ages and ethnicities among the characters, so eventually I was able to keep track of who's who, even if I couldn't remember their names. People keep dying off, and that makes it easier.
TV Show: Season 1 of The Walking Dead roughly covers issues 1-6 of the comic. The comic and the show started off the same, but the show adds some excellent details. There is more of a government presence, both in the initial phases of the outbreak and with the CDC. I haven't run across the character of Merle in the comic, and other significant plot points were changed. So far, I like the changes that were made in the show. The world seems to have more depth, and there's a concrete element of hope. In the comic the characters are hopeful, but it's hard to see why.
Compilations: The Walking Dead first came out as a monthly comic in 2003. So far, there are 89 issues. The comics have been compiled into several sets: The Walking Dead volumes each have 6 issues per volume, The Walking Dead books contain 12 issues each, and the 1,000 page Walking Dead Compendium One covers issues 1-48.
The Compendium One was a little hard to read because it doesn't have any issue breaks or page numbers. There are chapter breaks every 6 issues, but this is a large chunk to get through in one sitting.
Final thoughts: I'm glad I took a look at The Walking Dead comic before starting season 2 of the TV show. The plots of the show and comic are different, but the show may re-visit the comic for future story lines. Lets hope so, since the stories in the comic are really compelling. I know I couldn't have lasted as long as these survivors have.
Note: I've only gotten through the first half of the Compendium. Can't want to see what happens next!
Murder, Monsters and Mayhem is sponsored by Jenn's Bookshelves. RIP is sponsored by Stainless Steel Droppings.