The Walking Dead: Book One | book review

30071Title: The Walking Dead: Book One
Author/Creator: Robert Kirkman
Illustrator(s): Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn
Series: The Walking Dead
Publisher: Image Comics, Inc.
Publication Date: October 2010
Rating: 4 stars

Opening Line:

“This is not good.”

The Walking Dead has been one of my favorite TV shows ever since it aired. Unfortunately, I fell behind (way behind) and over the years haven’t had time to catch up. Until now. In my Literature and Media class, we had to watch the first season of The Walking Dead and read Book One. It was so fun to re-watch the first season, and now my roommate is really into it, so we decided to continue on into season 2 and keep going until we catch up. Now that I finished Book One, I also want to keep reading, but the books are super expensive and it makes me sad…

Anyway, this is the first legitimate graphic novel I’ve ever read. I’ve read comics and manga before, but not a graphic novel. I thought this one was very interesting because it was done in all black-and-white. I kind of wished they would have added the color red, like they did on the cover, because that would have been awesome. However, I thought the illustrations were great, especially facial expressions. The series first started as a comic book series in 2003 and has since combined issues to form volumes of a graphic novel. Book One of the graphic novel features issues 1 – 12 of the comic book series (two chapters total).

I know the point of a graphic novel isn’t the dialogue, but there were a lot of instances where I thought they could have written the conversations a little better. There’s a constant battle between dialogue and illustrations in graphic novels, and though sometimes the dialogue didn’t captivate me. I found myself reading before looking at the drawings and sometimes forgetting to even look at the frame before just moving to the next speech bubble. It’s like reading subtitles while watching something — you’re so caught up in reading that you don’t pay attention to what’s going on.

What I liked most about the graphic novel was that is was just different enough from the TV show that it still interested me and held my attention. Typically, I will read the source text before watching the adaptation. In this case, I’d already seen seasons 1 – 3 of the show before reading Book One, but I noticed a lot of differences. There’s so many characters added to the show that aren’t in the graphic novel, and there are characters in the graphic novel that they omitted from the show. There were also characters I had different opinions on in the graphic novel compared to the show. In the show, I hated Shane from the moment I saw him. In the graphic novel, I actually kind of liked him for a little bit. Also, some of the events from the graphic novel are either changed, taken out, or placed in a different order for the show. I loved being able to still be caught off guard while reading.

I have to say, though, I prefer to watch the show than read the graphic novel, and I think it has to do with suspense. It’s very hard to convey suspense through a graphic novel. The best way to do this is probably by having a suspenseful chain of frames interrupted by having to turn the page. If a moment keeps building and building, and you have to turn the page before finding out what happens, it can be a little suspenseful. It’s a lot easier to create suspense in television shows, and I think The Walking Dead does it really well. It’s one of those shows that holds my attention and also gives me severe anxiety. I love it.

I’m giving this 4 stars because I love the storyline and I think it’s one of the best zombie stories I’ve ever read and watched. Though many of my favorite characters have either died or will most likely die, I am going to continue following the story. Whether I continue reading the graphic novels or not, I recommend them (at least the first book) to fans of the show, and even to those of you who haven’t seen the show because it might sway you to start watching it (that’s what happened to my roommate). Also, now would be a great time to start, since it’s Halloween and all. Remember: zombies are awesome. Always.

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