Bookish Topic Tuesday
The Walking Dead – Graphic Novels
Recently I borrowed from the library two massive books: The Walking Dead Compendiums. I had seen the TV show, and thought why not see the source material? I haven’t read too many graphic novels, except for I think a couple related to Avatar the Last Airbender, so it was a new sort of experience. If you are completely unaware, this series is based on the premise of zombies now inhabiting the earth.My gosh they were huge books, they encompassed nearly 50 ‘issues’ each, but the thing is, since there isn’t that much written text, they don’t take that long to read. Frankly I wouldn’t have wanted to read it any other way, as in, not issue by issue, or trade paperbacks, or books or even omnibuses. That just means you have to find multiple editions at once, instead of one convenient book. Plus it means that you don’t have to really wait until you can get the next issue, you have most of them in your hands.
Does it really count as reading a book? I guess you could argue that it isn’t a book since it isn’t just text, but considering the size of them, the text within is similar to a short book easily. Just because it has visuals doesn’t detract from it’s literary value. In keeping a record of how many books I have read, I wouldn’t exactly put down each individual issue as a ‘book’, but they still count if you want them to.
In terms of the content, well, the first compendium covers the first three and a half (up to the end of 2013) seasons of the TV show. So reading through that was interesting, because I knew what happened, and yet I didn’t, because there have been a whole heap of changes in character, plot structure (things were in completely different orders), some plot was added into the TV show and plenty removed and various other things which meant it was still enjoyable and had plenty of unexpected stuff. Going on to compendium two was even more exciting to try to see what was going to come up next for the TV show, though given the number of liberties they make with the first compendium, I won’t have that much advantage in my knowledge.
For me though the second compendium didn’t feel as though that much happened. Perhaps it was because in the first I had some expectation, and then in the second I read it in a pretty short space of time, but for some reason it just didn’t seem like that much happened. Even though, a lot, happened. A strong theme is definitely of hope and how necessary it really is to being able to keep going. I actually wrote about hope for my large text study last year, and it was on the books The Road and Nineteen Eighty-Four, and in this story hope is just as important. As is humanity. In a world where you are surrounded by danger and enemies of both the living and dead variety, you have to do a lot to survive, and most of the stuff you have to do is morally reprehensible. But if you don’t, you and your family and your group will die. The balancing up of this morality is interesting to me.
As for the zombie aspect, I actually don’t think that you can get enough zombies (having said that as someone who hasn’t read all that many zombie novels or seen that many zombie movies/shows). I read the Newsflesh Trilogy, and that was a completely new take on zombies I feel, and The Walking Dead seems to be a more traditional zombie story, and I actually have World War Z waiting to be read as well. I find zombies interesting, well actually, I find stories about survival and dystopia quite fascinating. The survival stories are just a genre I like, especially ones like Tomorrow When the War Began, which probably started my ‘like’ of these stories. So, I can’t get enough of zombies and survival stories (any good ones you’d recommend?) whereas plenty of other people couldn’t give a damn. And there are just so many options with zombies, is it a virus that you get by becoming infected, is everyone infected, are other animals infected, is there a cure, is the government still running, are you in a place with lots of guns, do guns attract them, do the zombies run, are they intelligent, do they form packs, can they swim, climb stairs, etc, etc? So, though it’s a tried and true genre, there’s plenty of variety.
I guess I haven’t actually said much about the plot or characters, but I think I’ll leave it that way. The characters are quite interesting, even though as one might expect, they don’t all get to live happily ever after, so plenty are going to die. They are all pretty complex, which is again unsurprising given their circumstances, so it makes for some interesting times. And the plot, well, they are trying to survive, and doing anything they can to ensure they can do that.
The last thing I should say, is that I guess it is fitting that it is a graphic novel, because some scenes are graphic. Ok, the real thing I wanted to say, is just wonder should they be called graphic novels, or comics? Obviously manga is for Japanese comics, but where’s the distinction between the two ‘Western’ terms? Are comics for superhero stories? Do graphic novels have more writing and less ‘BAM’, ‘KAPOW’, etc? What’s your take?