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.)