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Ceridwen

Ceridwen

You kids get off my lawn. 

The Walking Dead, Compendium 1 - Cliff Rathburn, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore, Robert Kirkman Read this in a sitting, which is so the wrong way to read comics, I know. In a gulp, it's uneven, sometimes gripping, sometimes so boring I skimmed. (Seriously, I know, skimming comics is really silly.) This is wordier that I would prefer at points, which also seems a silly thing to say, so maybe I just mean that the words are ill-chosen, occasionally trite and obvious, characters laying out their motivations in ways that seems hammy.

Damn, I'm complaining too much here. I'll start again. There's something fundamentally televisual about this series. The black and white, the small frames, the tendency towards the close-up and the reverse reaction shot. Sometimes this works brilliantly, the narrow visual field feels dangerous, because you keep wanting to look around the corner of the frame for the inevitable roamer who is groaning towards you. Unlike the cinematic, the televisual is domestic: the plots without unity or closure, the emphasis on the nuts and bolts of kitchen survival, the...uh, I don't know. Something about the narrowness of scope despite the highness of the stakes.

The story starts well, albeit familiarly in shades of 28 Days Later. Small-town cop Rick wakes up from a coma in a hospital full of OMIGOD WHAT IS THAT? Scramble, scramble, search for family, the finding of family, trauma, trauma, movement. Some of the episodes are genuinely affecting, the vacillation between relief and terror well-timed. Sometimes not. The middle sections at the farm are especially slack, with rural type folk running from stereotype to cardboard. By the end, by which I mean the end of the compendium, not the end of the series, the conflict between principles turned gruesome and page-turning, with enough character study for there to be frisson to their choices, and well, I hate to be all spoiler, frisson to their deaths. This is despite some serious freaking stupidity in the ways the baddies were written. Like, serious stupidity.

This is what gets me about zombie stories: death is inevitable. It's a numbers game every single time, and the numbers are always against the living. 100% of smokers die. 100% of non-smokers die. It's always just a matter of time. Something about the domesticity of this story works - you know, when it does - this fragile existence, its small concerns, its beautiful life set against the inevitable decay and waste. At a certain point character is inessential, and sometimes it's just distracting, and that sort of thing cuts both ways.

And yes, I totally had nightmares, thank you very much.