This is 22 Pages at the University of Toronto! We like comics! We're great! Love us! Give us money!
(Seriously though, find out more about us here.)

    Walking Dead, Discussion One

    Editor's Note: This week's discussion focuses on the Image graphic novel series The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman as well as the AMC television series that followed. The story follows Rick Grimes and a group of survivors trying to stay alive during a zombie apocalypse. So far, Daniel has read the entire series as Anthony has only read until book 6. Therefore, a Spoiler Alert is in order.

    SPOILER ALERT: The entire The Walking Dead TV series and books 1 through 6 are fair game.

    You wake up. The world is different. How'd you get here? There is no reason. It just is. That to me is the Walking Dead series. It throws a bunch of people at you in a situation that is completely impossible and guesses how they would react. Zombie stories are nothing new in our culture (or for the last 50 years, for that matter) but there is something unique about Robert Kirkman's take on man's descent into horror.

    Well, considering I only caught wind of the comic AFTER the series aired, my early pages were spent wondering how closely the books would mirror the show. After the first couple of clear divergences (did the book just kill off Shane in the first arc?!), that was when the book really took off for me. The TV series, to me, is on its own distinct arc - a parallel universe that I look forward to returning to this fall.
    Editor's Note: Although influenced by the comic series, the television series offers a different take on the original story.

    Yeah, the TV show has so far proven itself to be a whole different animal, for better or worse. That being said, we'll discuss it in the coming weeks.

    So, as you said, the whole world's gone to hell in a hand-basket. No nurse to coddle you, no illusion that everything's going to be alright and your first test of ethics ends with you stealing a bike? Shame, Officer Grimes! How quickly your moral fibre rots away, but would you do any of it different?
    It's challenging to say one way or the other. I mean, here is a book that not only suggests what would have to be done in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, but actually shows, step by step how regular people (and some irregular people) can keep on moving, keep on hoping and ultimately keep on living. That is what hooked me from the start, what kind of initial reading of the book did you get? Did you feel invested in Rick's struggle?

    Almost immediately. I imagined Rick Grimes busting out of the hospital, tearing through the streets killing every undead SOB dumb enough to pop his/her head out. He'd find his wife and child holed up in their attic, then maybe steal a yacht, and sail off to Paradise Island, where they can return to a simpler life -- one in which zombie season came just once a lifetime. But alas, it's obvious from the get-go that our Protag is going to have to take some moral liberties (such as hacking off someone's leg to stave the deathly infection!) instead. Gonna be in this for the long haul, it seems.
    Definitely, and to that end, he acts as the moral compass of the book, the character that the reader identifies with and immediately relates to. Kirkman's writing is effective at getting us to believe in him and his decisions so when he decides to hack off a leg, we believe it's the right thing to do!

    All I can say is MY moral compass was pointing straight north (that's right!) when considering what I'd do when cornered in a gym full of inactive zombie corpses with Michonne. Does that make me a bad person?
    Editor's Note: Michonne fellated Tyrese in said gymnasium.

    Well it brings your deviancy to light but my point is that the book goes to great lengths (in sometimes clunky, obvious fashion) to attempt to show how different types of people would react to serve their own interests or those of the group. The book introduces the macho Alpha types (Rick, Shane, Tyrese), the damsels in distress (Lori, Amy, Carol), those people resisting or in denial hoping things will get back to normal.

    Screw the resistors -- Zombies are trying to EAT YOUR FACE - how long can you believe everything will go back to normal? That your family will re-unite? Sooner or later, you bite the bullet and move on. Or in Lori's case, you bite the Spicy Shane-sausage. "Oh hey Rick's back! Sorry, Shane. You can fuck right off now. No way can I see this blowing up in my face later!"
    This is true but then there are those striving to be useful, coming out of their shell (Glenn, Andrea, Dale, the tentative types who don't always know how to act) and of course, those crazy comic book types (Michonne. Ok, she is the only one in this category). They emerge because of the situation, and become new people because of the horror around them.

    To me, this is where Walking Dead is at its most interesting - getting the reader to infuse his/her own moral compass and in those same situations and wonder: could I pull the trigger? Could I act as this or that character? At first the answers came easy, but things aren't always so cut and dry. Speaking of which, how long did it take you to figure out Lori and Shane did the nasty?
    Come on now, never bet against the dramatic weight of a love triangle! You want to raise the stakes in your interpersonal storytelling? Introduce some sexual secrets. Why do you think soap operas have been around for so long? I think I figured it out pretty quickly. Isn't that how it always happens? Husband gets lost in zombie apocalypse, wife finds solace with best friend.

    I don't blame Shane for shacking up with his best bud's woman (she's a FOX!), but come on, what was it, 3 weeks since Rick was out? MAYBE a month? Give yourself a mourning period, woman! And now, she has no periods AT ALL - at least they won't have to worry about BEARS!
    Editor's Note: Lori became pregnant, seemingly, because of her tryst with Shane.

    Yikes, I hadn't even thought about the potential for bears (zombie bears?!).

    Funny how Rick's story is definitely the exception in the post-apocalyptic setting. By the time he's grown a beard, he's back together with his wife and kid. Time to get real freaky naughty in the tent - just remember ladies, the days of manscaping die when zombies rule the world!
    Definitely just another creature comfort that goes out the window. The story goes on, however, and just as the characters continue their march towards an uncertain future, we will continue our discussion in the next instalment with some thoughts on some of our favourite moments, characters and finally, where we think both the comic and TV series are going.

    Editor's Note: Check in next week for a continuation on this discussion on the Walking Dead.