There is much debate on what the best the zombie genre can offer is and what you must read in order to call yourself a respected zombie fan. Each person defines their own zombie Bible so to say and for me that position is filled by “The Walking Dead”, a monthly released comic book series that has persisted and managed to hit past the 60 issue mark since it started back in the year 2003.
There are three key features, which keep this story alive and progressing issue by issue to garner more fans. First is the amazing artistic talent of cover artist Tony Moore and penciller Charlie Adlard, who successfully scared the sanity right of my eye sockets with their black and white nightmare collages of haunting cadavers and raw human drama and emotions. I claim second to be the excellent, logic and realistic depiction of the survival horror genre as well as bringing credibility to the whole zombie apocalypse scenario. I blame writer Robert Kirkman for this as well as writing a comic book series that is about zombies, but not really about the zombies, but the human side.
Now to expand on my points. Charlie Adlard resembles Mike Mignola in his portrayal of the undead as he melds them into the darkness, disproportions and mask them in murky blotches, disfigures them with edgy lines and melds them into one formless mass. However when the zombies come into the foreground frightening details reveal themselves one after the other and to be honest I do believe that the black and white format only enhances the contrast and amplifies the horror. However grounding in reality is the work dedicated on the cast, which although large and ever changing is memorable for their realism. Each survivor is unique in age, body type, sex and posture, which speaks tons on behalf of Adlard’s artistic capabilities.
These images set into motion with Kirkman’s vision and winding storytelling that promises no end in near sight create an atmosphere, where the impossible is transferred accurately in reality. No problem is every solved the easy way. There are no lucky finds the first minute and usually somebody dies. One crisis is solved only for another to arise and no place is safe no matter how many barriers you may build. Army weapons and food that are conveniently supplied in other stories are luxury items that are hard to come across and come in possession after countless trials and wandering.
Although this is survival horror, the zombies aren’t the point. They may be the menace, the horror, but they are also the stage on which the human soul of the series is showcased. In this day and time you can create your own microcosm and interact with the people you chose to, do the things that you want to and most importantly isolate yourself from the things that annoy you and rely on technology to supply for you. This leads to apathy, often displayed in our society as well as the disruption of traditional relationships in society and leniency of human survival skills and their diversity.
Using zombies as that catalyst to force the human to connect, reach out and rely on people, strangers and those that he doesn’t like, letting actions rather than words do the introductions the readers are introduced to the depths of pain, of love, grief, loyalty, trust and friendship. “The Walking Dead” also try to draw the line between what is necessary to be done and what turns you into a monster, even worse than a zombie…