Thee Comic Column #1: The Walking Dead

When I was in fourth grade a bought a copy of Larry Hama’s GIJOE comic book – specifically #49, the birth of Serpentor – and ever since I have been an AVID comic book geek. Sure my interest has waxed and waned over the years – more due to the state of the industry and the quality of books coming out during the 90’s than any age issues – but I’ve always had constants. Sandman, Preacher, Lucifer, Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, The Walking Dead – there has always been at least one book that I HAVE to read the minute I get it every month. I feel fortunate for this – I’ve known a lot of folks whose enthusiasm for the medium has waned at various points and this has never happened to me. Part of the reason was discovering the non-superhero stuff and then ironically enough part of it has been, in recent years, re-discovering a lot of the superhero stuff now that those non-superhero writers are changing it from the spandex muscle fest they were in the 90’s into the (in some cases) intricate works of art and plot they have become in the last ten or so years. I’m telling you – there’s a veritable TON of great books out there right now and I’m going to make this an ongoing column to kind of clue people in to that. What people? Well, I guess I’m writing this for mainly two main groups: those who have never read a comic but are curious after being wooed by the simply awesome influx of  high profile movies in recent years and those who at some point turned away from ‘funny books’ thinking they’d outgrown them. Believe me, in the case of the nineties readers you DID outgrow them – but the industry has finally (for the most part) had a growth spurt and caught up to you. And what a spurt it’s been…

So there’s the introduction and now here’s the first installment of…


Let’s start simple. I’m going to tell you that the number one book I read now has been my number one for the past, oh, say eight years or so. The title may be familiar to some of you because it’s also a mega-hit show on AMC. Of course I’m talking about The Walking Dead.

Now, at the risk of being unpopular right off the bat I have to say that I’m not really a fan of the show – but I’m trying dammit!!! I’ve really liked some of the episodes, and I love Darryl, but overall the show’s just leaving me cold. For me – thus far at least – the bad outweighs the good. But I promise – I’ll keep trying (eventually).

But I don’t want to bad mouth the show, cuz I’m glad that people dig it. That, and the continued quality of the book, means that Robert Kirkman will be around for pretty much about as long as he thinks it will take him to tell the huge, epic, sprawling story that just never – and I do mean NEVER – turns out a bad issue. If you dig the show, go back and read the first trade paperback of the comic – you will be hooked.

Here’s the thing – I’m not a zombie fan. It’s an overdone thing by now. Correction – I told my good friend and perpetual comic dealer Mike that zombies were overdone back in 2004. At that time every month Mike would implore me to read The Walking Dead and I would glibly reply something in the way of, “No. I like the first three Romero movies and Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, other than that – NOT INTERESTED.” We repeated this every month, or maybe even every week and I gave the same reply each time because back then it WAS overdone. Now? SUPER OVERDONE. To me, there’s room for those initial Romero flicks (why didn’t he stop making zombie movies? Why WHY WHY), Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things and Walking Dead. And though I don’t really dig the show I still feel there’s room for it. But the book? It’s the BEST zombie thing out there. Why? For the same reasons that the Romero’s are good – IT’S NOT ABOUT ZOMBIES. It’s about the people. How would you feel if you thought you were among the last living people on Earth, and that if you did find more people they might be even more dangerous to you then the reanimated corpses walking around eating your friends’ brains? Want to find out? Read The Walking Dead.

Seriously. Every issue is a mind fuck. Every issue. And it never gets old, or gimmicky. It’s just great, long-term storytelling executed in the graphic serial format. And there’s a flow – I burn through every issue in about ten minutes because the creative team is so streamlined in their approach and thus the comic functions the exact way a great comic should – the story is king. Don’t get me wrong, Charlie Adlard’s art is fantastic but it serves the story first and foremost – the story that is the union of those wonderful pictures and Kirkman’s plotting and script and it’s those three elements that combine in a way where you’re not aware of anything other than the story while you’re making your first pass through each issue. The art is merely a graphic extension of the words and situations. The way it should be for something like this. Something so… real.

Okay, that’s my number one. Next we’ll talk about DC’s reboot, the now infamous (in some corners) NEW 52. Is it all good? No, but some of it is REALLY GOOD.

In the interim my good people, Read!!!

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

2 Responses to Thee Comic Column #1: The Walking Dead
  1. [...] I missed my column last week for, I think, the first time since I started it here on Joup almost one y...
  2. [...] may remember that my very first installment of Thee Comic Column was about The Walking Dead – the ...

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