Alright you guys. I figured I’d best cover this one before the actual zombie apocalypse broke out. Walking Dead, the comic book series, not the TV show. Is it good? Should you read it if you like the show? Do I like the show? I’m here to tell you all about it. Maybe I can steer you guys in the direction of a thrilling series. It’s okay, comic books have pictures you guys. You don’t have to be scared of these like you would be of the Game of Thrones books.
Okay, I’m going to have to start with a disclaimer here that’ll lead very quickly into the post proper, and I’ll try my best not to get too defensive about anything. I… no longer watch the Walking Dead. I read the books, but stopped watching the series around the time of Laurie’s death. I realize this is not necessarily a popular life choice, and some of you might already by leaving, wondering why I thought I could say anything informative about this whole franchise when I’d have to be mentally impaired to not enjoy the show. Hear me out here guys.
I’m used to books being adapted into film and television. I’m used to certain… liberties being taken with story line and pacing. I’m used to seeing beloved characters altered in a number of ways ranging from arbitrary to unwholesome. I like to think I’ve gotten good at dealing with the disparity between books and their screen adaptations. With the Walking Dead TV show though, I found my self too unfortunately tested.
I obviously recommend the comic series Walking Dead to anyone with a taste for braaaains and gritty apocalypse stuff. The writing is incredibly moving and smart. Robert Kirkman, the writer, is excellent at exploring the human side of the apocalypse; what people are willing to do in dire straits, what they might end up doing, and growing his worlds around that idea of humanity taken to the very edge. Kirkman is not afraid to explore tragedy, nor the happier stuff that comes quietly, in between the monsters, and all within a well paced and thought provoking narrative ark.
I knew the TV series wouldn’t follow the books perfectly. That’s just life. Some exploration is arguably healthy, and I’m not going to be the idiot that argues Darryl shouldn’t exist because he’s not in the books. Sometimes change can lead to a genuinely nice improvement or addition. Sometimes, or with Walking Dead, increasingly this was not the case.
At first, it was the little things. I felt this person was acting out of character, wasn’t sure if she was supposed to die in this part or the next one. Sometimes, fan reactions to certain trends in the series unnerved me, such as the general attitude of disgust for Laurie, a woman who was slut shamed for falling in love with another guy after being told her husband was dead. Maybe I just didn’t hear that when I was reading the series, but the hat was definitely a bit… louder in the TV fandom. Andrea was also made generally not nearly as cool as she was in the books, going from hardcore sniper to emotional wreck who, I think, is dead now, but definitely still thriving in the books.
Sorry for the spoilers for anyone that really wants to read the series, but what ultimately, truly threw me off the series for good was all the premature deaths. With lil’ Sophie getting turned into a barn zombie, I didn’t see a season finale “twist” that surprised no one, but a great character that had a very interesting relationship with Carl and some psychological trauma at the death of her parents, mowed down before her time. Laurie’s death, which still definitely happened in the books, was extremely tragic and allowed for some serious poetic justice for one The Governor.
Really, it seemed the TV show took serious plot points and rewrote them to be less resonant within the overall narrative or just flat out cut them. And no, they did not add nearly enough “Darryls,” or kick-ass awesome changes do excuse those transgressions. Basically, the Walking Dead comics were cut apart like a zombie corpse for the “coolest” elements to smack on a TV screen and I honestly felt like the show suffered from that, enough that I couldn’t watch it anyway.
Sorry if I’m killing your joy over one of your favorite shows. If you like the show though, I encourage you to pick up the books and be wowed by a truly spectacular narrative. The show can’t even completely spoil the books really, especially the later ones because, like I said, the roster of surviving players, not to mention the pacing and plot points fail to match up in many respects. Don’t be surprised if fringe characters become twenty to twenty-five percent more awesome too. A silver lining, I suppose, to my own little party-pooping cloud of doom and gloom. Love the show or not, these books are quick paced, intense, and worth the read.