It is a funny thing that sometimes when a comic book becomes popular it attracts a lot of negative feedback. That isn’t to say that it might not deserve the negative feedback (I’ve hated lots of popular things), but sometimes the argument doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny.
I recently got a chance to read The Walking Dead Compendium Vol 1. It comprises the first 48 issues of the widely popular series. And when I mean widely popular I mean that the first issue goes for crazy money for a modern book, it has a top-rated tv show, and the top-ten selling trades of every month are basically all Walking Dead volumes. So yeah, it is kind of popular.
All these accomplishments aside, there is a large group of haters out there who can’t stand the Walking Dead. The main argument seems to be that it is derivative work, a ripoff of George Romero’s classic film Night of The Living Dead. Romero essentially created the concept of zombie apocalypse but that doesn’t mean that someone else can’t use that setting and tell a story.
The Walking Dead is an apocalypse story. In many ways the zombies are incidental. They could have been a plague, or a nuclear war, or giant marshmallow fire ants. It doesn’t really matter. The comic is popular because of interesting characters stuck in an unusual situation and we want to see what happens to them next. I had the benefit of reading the 48 issue tome and therefore didn’t need to wait a month until the next part of the story came out.
Believe me, I would be the first person to tell you if I felt that this was a poor story and not worth your money. But here’s the thing: it is worth the accolades it has received.
The writing is tight. The story is perfectly paced and the dialogue feels natural for each character. There are definitely more words in an issue of Walking Dead than in the average comic book though, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from picking it up. The art perfectly fits the story. Black and white evokes the campy horror roots, and the scenery relates the desolation that the survivors feel.
Kirkman, Moore, and Adlard have managed something which is rare in today’s comic book industry: they have created something that isn’t Marvel or DC that has reached widespread popularity and fame. This is great for comic books. Maybe someone who isn’t into superhero books might get into comics by picking up the Walking Dead.
I am huge supporter of anything that gets people to read more and helps promote the medium as a diverse storytelling vehicle. If you are a horror fan or love the television show head into your local comic shop and pick up Walking Dead. Don’t worry, they’ll have a copy.