Reading Diary: The Walking Dead, volumes 1-12 by Robert Kirkman

Oct 06 2010 Published by under book review, reading diary

This graphic novel series is simply amazing. It's some of the best graphic pure storytelling I've come across in a very long time -- I just can't recommend it enough. The story is perfectly paced: slow when it needs to be but mostly taut and exciting, pulling you from episode to episode like a freight train. The art is short on comics rockstar fireworks but is serviceable and supports the story completely.

So, what's it about?

Zombie apocalypse.

The series follows one man, a cop, who wakes up from a coma and finds himself in a world full of zombies. A world with very few survivors. He searches for his family, tries to survive, forges alliances, takes risks, does some really bad things and somehow manages.

The coolest thing about this series is that it tries to be as realistic as possible. If there was a zombie apocalypse, this is probably how it would really go down. There's very little of the typical comics/Hollywood crazy heroics or lame, improbably plot points -- only death, despair and limping, strained, difficult survival. Lots of death. Surprising, shocking, out of the blue. Characters who you were sure would survive. Dead. Again, just like it would really happen. People don't survive disasters just because they indulge in the most amusing snappy patter of the group.

Some of the volumes are like the calm before the storm and others are like all hell breaking loose. Like the way being a soldier is supposed to be, short bursts of shear terror interspersed by periods of fearful and expectant anxiety. And of course, being a comic book series that needs to be both exciting and suspenseful, even at the most anxious, you never have to wait long between bursts of terror. The boring bits are left out of the telling of the tale.

I read these 12 collected volumes over the course of a couple of weeks and that was really the best way to read them, as one long story. You really get the full sweep of the tale, both as a post apocalyptic epic and as an intensely personal tale of sorrow and pain.

Who would I recommend this too?

Any library for an institute of higher education that makes any attempt to collect graphic story-telling really needs this series in it's collection. As for public libraries, this series might be a bit too intense for a kids section but adults and young adults that are into graphic novels will really enjoy it and should be considered. For school libraries, it's hard to imagine collecting this for kids below the high school level and even then it might be hard to justify to skittish parents or administrators. Although, of course, high school and middle school kids will just love this series -- they'll probably have to get it on their own.

I also want to mention that it was my two sons who really got me into this series. For a couple of years we'd been getting them collections for birthdays, etc, and they'd always been telling me how good it was and that I should give it a try. I'd certainly meant to read it all along, but somehow didn't want to start a long series from the beginning. Eventually this past summer, I did relent and pretty well immediately bought the last few collections so I could read them. This, of course, made us all happy.

The Walking Dead series is being adapted for TV by AMC. The first episode is this coming Halloween. I can't wait.

Kirkman, Robert, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard.The walking dead. Orange, CA: Image, 2004-2010.

  1. Days Gone Bye
  2. Miles Behind Us
  3. Safety Behind Bars
  4. The Heart's Desire
  5. The Best Defense
  6. This Sorrowful Life
  7. The Calm Before
  8. Made to Suffer
  9. Here We Remain
  10. What We Become
  11. Fear The Hunters
  12. Life Among Them
  13. Too Far Gone (forthcoming)

(Yeah, I know. I'm still a bit blocked as far as even vaguely substantial or library/future-related posts are concerned. Bear with me.)

2 responses so far

  • Diver says:

    It would be nice to see these at the library, I have been buying them and they are like crack. They around $10 used and are good for about 30-40 minutes of pure enjoyment, then they are over and you need more.

  • Whomever1 says:

    From a completely different perspective, my school library gets a lot of use out of graphic novels, but only if the graphics are good. We're a special education high school with hardly any real readers, but there are lots of kids who like Marvel and anime. Long story arcs, not so much. I've tried.

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