Monday, July 9, 2012

The Walking Duh!

I love the Walking Dead television show. The comic books...well, they're OK.

Look, I think the comic is pretty good. I know a lot of people worship the comic. But there's some things that bug me about it. I'll try to articulate my feelings but it's sort of hard to put my finger on how to describe exactly how I feel. I know this is just my opinion, but I need to vent (I guess you could consider this a pseudo-review/critique of the entire series thus far).

I know that I should be backing up my statements with some concrete excerpts/examples from the comic, but I don't have the time to do so at the moment. I would really like to do a follow-up post where I give some examples. I guess I really wanted to write this and see if anyone else feels like I do. My only issue is that I don't own any of the comics or trade paperbacks. I've been borrowing the trades from my local library system, and they're always in big demand, so it's hard to have them around for long in order to reference for something like this.

That being said, here goes:

1) The characters seem to jump to these extremes that are totally...well, they seem almost bipolar. They'll find a new place to live and immediately say "this is it, this is where we can set up a life! Our struggle is over!" And I mean someone literally says that out loud, which is a no-no in good writing. There's a lot of moments where I'm like "show me, don't tell me." I mean, they come over a hill and see a town down below, and someone just starts assuming right away that they've found the promised land. Hey, here's an idea: have a character say the place is "paradise" AFTER they've lived there for a while. I know, what I've just described has happened, but there are instances where they're jumping to huge conclusions. These people instantaneously go from being cautious survivors to extreme optimists. This can be summed up in one sentence: "Nobody talks like that!"

Look, I know these people are supposed to be living through the end of the world, and yeah that would make people behave pretty irrationally and have big mood swings. Would they have moments where they would jump to conclusions and have flights of fancy because they desperately need hope? Yes. But there are a lot of times when the comic comes on strong with the notion that, despite the adversity, Rick's group is pretty focused and most of them have the ability to think rationally. So these moments of naivety are really jarring.

2) There are these pretty unrealistic moments where characters, mostly Rick, go off on these monologues about the situation of the survivors. It's really off-putting. I mean, he just starts holding forth on this really deep stuff for long stretches, and I'm left thinking "wow, this sounds like something someone would prepare for addressing a crowd at a town gathering, and not something that one would come up with whole cloth right after killing a bunch of zombies." I'll say it again: "Nobody talks like that!"

3) Then there's moments when they meet new people and tell these new people "we don't trust you" without an explanation. I would be like "listen, a few months back we got attacked by some maniac called the Governor who almost killed all of us." Give these newcomers concrete, detailed examples of what you've actually been through. Don't just tell someone you don't trust someone and not tell them why. Rick and the gang keep meeting people who've been lucky enough to be relatively sheltered from the undead hordes. Rick's people have come to the conclusion (rightly so) that they're more battle hardened than many of the people they meet. It would be a good idea to discuss this fact with new people they meet, so that they don't just seem like maniacs with no motivation other than being a paranoid gang. "Hey, if we seem like we're nuts, here's why." That would solve a lot of first contact problems for all involved, I think. Rick and the gang are looking for some humanity and some remnants of civilization, but when they meet other living people they lose all capacity to communicate clearly.

That's all I can muster right now. Again, I think the comic is a cool exploration of what happens when the dead rise and the world as we know it ends, and it most definitely has the ability to have a much wider scope than the TV show ever could. But there are definite moments when I'm reading the books that I'm kicked out of my immersion in the story.

P.S. I think the fact that the show's "reality" has diverged significantly from the comic book's reality is a huge plus. It gives us some "alternate universe" possibilities when it comes to the characters.

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