For the past two weeks, I’ve been down with a nasty throat infection. During this time, I have read issues 1-48 (collected in 8 volumes) of Robert Kirkman’s comic The Walking Dead. The comics tell the story of a small town police officer named Rick Grimes who awakens from a coma in an abandoned hospital to find that a zombie-apocalypse has occurred. Confused and terrified, Grimes must fight to avoid zombies even as he tries to find his wife and son.
I’m not a big comic book guy (though I do like to go browsing at Phoenix Comics on Dempster in Chicago–that place is awesome, like a bunch of comics and toys just exploded in a guy’s house), but I thought The Walking Dead was really outstanding. It does a great job of cultivating characters you care about, and then putting them under zombie-related stress. The artwork is excellent (the zombies look really cool), and the tone can be very, very dark. The characters feel real, and so do their reactions to the zombies.
While reading The Walking Dead, I was struck by how quickly the many characters pair-off into sexual relationships. It was jarring and unexpected, but also felt real somehow. Like, I’ve heard people say that humans tend to do this in times of crisis. (Back when I lived in New York City, people talked about “9-11 babies” and so forth.) I guess being in a zombie wasteland-world might be the ultimate crisis, so folks might seek out one another more readily. Maybe the remaining humans would have instinctual drives to repopulate the planet after zombie-decimation. I think it’s an interesting notion to consider. Many zombie apocalypse stories (be they books or films or comics) seem to insinuate that humans would be entirely too frightened and distracted to think about sex during a zombie outbreak. The Walking Dead seems to argue that–to the contrary–sex and pairing-off would become more central to people’s lives if zombies attacked.
In conclusion, these comics are awesome and really make you think, and I was really, really glad to have them around these past couple of weeks when I was croaking and spitting out blood (and not in, you know, a good zombie-way…).