Literary Inspiration: The Walking Dead


After kicking off my friend Julie’s reading challenge with my favourite novel, The Virgin Suicides, an ultra light and breezy choice (sarcasm), I thought I’d lighten things up a bit by diving into the comic book world of The Walking Dead, where of course nothing bad ever happens and everyone lives in perfect happiness perfectly, forever and ever (further sarcasm.)

The second challenge prompt called for a book inspired by art and literature, be it art history, a book on technique or, say, a comic.  I went the comic route, seeing as The Walking Dead Compendium 1 is right on my bookshelf (as is 2, for that matter), and as a casual viewer of the show, I’ve always been a little curious as to the similarities and differences between it and the books.

Compendium 1, a MASSIVE, forearm-taxing beast written by Robert Kirkman, Charles Adlard and Tony Moore, clocks in at 1,000 pages and covers the first 48 issues of the comics.  Save a childhood obsession with the graphic novel Tales From the Crypt, comics as a storytelling format have never really been my thing – I prefer novels.  And indeed, I had a bit of a hard time getting into a decent reading rhythm with the comics, with the dialogue either entirely absent (Rick waking up from his cop coma) or spurting from characters like word vomit (pretty much anyone upon introducing themselves to THE GROUP; after that you won’t hear from them again until they die.) Which might just be the style of comics in general, although if the show is any indication, I think that one may be particular to The Walking Dead.  I also found there to be a weird condensing of seemingly-pivotal moments (Rick’s awakening, Shane’s death, THE GROUP’s introduction at Woodbury) in favour of endless scenes of morality talk (but again, that might just be The Walking Dead.)


But after an initial period of hesitation, I started really, really getting into the story, digging hard on the parts where the book and the show would intersect and then deviate once again (Carol and Tyreese!  Super unhinged Hershel!  Sexy Dale and Andrea time!)  It was all going so well.

Where the comics lost me, though, and where I ultimately stopped reading, was with the introduction of Woodbury.  Fans of the show will remember that during the third season a new villain was introduced by the name of The Governor.  Completely insane by any definition of the word, The Governor of the TV show was an authoritarian psychopath with fish tanks full of walker heads in his livingroom, a zombiefied daughter in the closet and a super big hate-on for Rick Grimes.  So not a good guy.

But The Governor of the books is the WORST guy, a violent and sadistic rapist who cuts off Rick’s hand within about six frames of meeting him (there’s that pacing thing I was talking about) and gleefully, and repeatedly, assaults Michonne over PAGES.

As a matter of personal principle, I don’t watch or read anything that heads too far down the path of sexual assault (cruelty towards animals and torture porn as well.)  My tolerance for that is practically nil.  It’s insulting and uninspired writing used by lazy authors who can’t think of a motivating event for their female characters beyond rape (looking at you, Game of Thrones.)

So when the books – which to that point had been bleak, yes, and shocking, also yes, but still very much in keeping with the PG-13 tone of the show – took a hard, hard turn into ultra heavy sadism (there is one image I wish I could unsee that will haunt my dreams forever) I checked the hell out.  I feel like there may have been a switch in authors at this point, the change in tone – and not one for the better – is just that jarring and unpleasant.

So The Walking Dead Compendium 1 and I parted ways at about the halfway mark.  But as always, I had to do a bit of nail art to go along with my choice of book, this time a mani showing off my ultra tiny lettering skills, because every other option was just too depressing or inappropriate.  Which is just The Walking Dead for you (I should create a macro for that phrase.)


8 thoughts on “Literary Inspiration: The Walking Dead

  1. You did it, you read a hefty portion of the Walking Dead compendium. I don’t know whether to congratulate you or weep for your soul. I’ll start by complimenting a well captured and just downright cool mani. Well done.

    My experience with the show is frought with more emotion than it shold be. I was a die hard love/hate fan, until my life circumstances changed a couple seasons ago making it unwise to watch stories involving shocking death scenes and people returning from the dead. Some of my entertainment preferences have been altered for good and some I’ve returned to, TWD I just can’t.
    My husband owns the entire graphic compendium and enjoys the aspects of pacing in the novel that can’t be done in a TV series. Whereas the show drags out a “pivotal moment” through half a season, the book gets it done in 2 pages. Beloved characters are dispatched in less grand fashion, but they are still beloved. When we watched the Governor season together, he’d explain how sadistic a villain he was and not one to be redeemed or pitied. There are panels in the novel he needed to skip over because their gratuitous nature was so unnecessary, I think it’s the same part you’re referring to, but he continued on. Currently reading Compendium 3 comic 100, he remains invested in the group. At this point it’s probably just the tenacity of staying with it to the bloody end.

    As for GOT, I’ll try not to get my fandom rattled, the show is one of the best written and acted on TV imo, but I think it was season 3 or 4 that I thought if there’s one more refernce to, illusion to, or threat of rape, I’m out. I didn’t get into the book series bc then we’re talking 12 year old rape victims and endless desert descriptions. I’m not up for it right now.
    Here’s to better reads for the rest of the challenge.

    • Holy cats, I DID do it. A couple of years ago I would have been deeply annoyed by the fact that I had stopped a book halfway through (I’d still be reading, probably, but in silent, grumpy protest) but I’m cool with it now – ain’t no one got time to suffer through a bad book.

      Wow, your husband IS invested, though – keep at it, dude, I have faith that Rick will stop being the biggest tool in the zombie apocalypse, you know, eventually. After sooooo many pages, though – those compendiums are like oddly shaped free weights.

      Sounds like you were feeling much the same way about GoT as a lot of fans, I understand – just burnt out on all the sadism. I always love the people that are all, “Yeah, but things were absolutely brutal in medieval times and that’s how women (or anyone else, really) were treated.” Sure, I’m with you there, historically. But where exactly do the White Walkers and giants and sentient wolves come in? You know, from a historical perspective. Simply curious!

      Better reads already – I’ve moved on to the final two Harry Potters, which I’ve never actually read and which have been taunting me from the bookshelf for YEARS.

      • No, guess who’s also never gotten to the last 2 HPs? Here we are creepily being the same person. My reasons are a long story that I plan to post when I finish, but I won’t be reading Hallow’s till this summer, it’s a birthday ritual.
        PS Hubs says his fave character is Andrea, apparently she’s the greatest in the comics, but I barely remember her from the show.

      • *Insert Twilight Zone music here*

        Yeah, okay, this is getting freakishly specific now! I’ve never gotten around to the final two books because I just kind of lost steam. I’ve always loathed the character of Dolores Umbridge to the point where her presence very nearly ruins both the movie and the book (is it the fourth or fifth book?) After slogging through all that, I put the final two aside and then never got back to them. It’ll be nice to finally say I’ve read the whole series!

        And PS, your husband is right – Andrea of the comics is pretty awesome. She and Dale, the older gentleman with the RV, are a thing in the comics and it’s kind of cute (or as cute as things can get on TWD.) People REALLY hated Andrea of the show. I didn’t mind her, but she was kind of a tit – always whining about wanting to carry a gun, and then the first time she’s handed a gun she accidentally shoots Daryl. She also bangs the Governor, doesn’t kill him when she has the chance to, and then he kills her. Good times, TWD, always.

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