Graphic Novel Novice: The Walking Dead Issue 1

I often think that I should be a person who is into comics and graphic novels. I’m a self-proclaimed nerd. I like movies based on comic book characters, especially the more recent Marvel movies. I’m a voracious consumer of pop culture in general. Still, there always seems to be some kind of barrier keeping me away. Part of it is that the worlds that I’m most familiar with are DC and Marvel and they both seem impenetrable. There’s so much history and the completionist in me can’t stand to start from somewhere other than the beginning. Another problem is that on the few occasions where I’ve tried to read comic books or graphic novels in the past, I find that my eye wanders around the page. I’m unable to take in the story through both the text and the art.

I am determined to fix this hole in my pop culture diet. I’m starting with The Walking Dead because it’s independent from a larger universe and because I’ve always wanted to read it in order to compare it with the AMC series. Each week, I will read one issue of The Walking Dead and comment on it as a new comic book reader here. We’re only going to run this series while the TV show isn’t running so this series will disappear for awhile starting the week of February 9. That way, even if I want to compare the TV show to the book, you will never have to worry about being spoiled unless you aren’t caught up with the most recent episodes aired on AMC.

Now, on to the actual comic books. I’ll be reading the issues on my laptop. This may or may not help with my focusing problem. From the first issue, I can tell you that The Walking Dead was created by writer Robert Kirkman (something I already knew) and artist Tony Moore (something I did not know). The cover is in color but everything else is in black and white. The first issue is very similar to the TV premiere. Rick Grimes is a police officer. He was tracking down an armed criminal with his currently unnamed partner when he was shot. He wakes up in the hospital some undefined time later to find that all of the people are gone and there are only hideous monsters left in their place.

The artwork for the walkers is really great. I’ve always been impressed by the makeup and prosthetics on the show but it’s even more impressive seeing how much they drew from the original artwork. I’m not having any problems going from panel to panel but this could be because I already know this part of the story and because most of it is artwork, not text, as Rick takes in his changed surroundings.

The book continues to be similar to the beginning of the TV series as Rick returns to his home. You can see a family portrait that shows that he has a wife and son. He then meets Morgan Jones and his son Duane who have holed up in his neighbors’ house. Rick takes Morgan and Duane to the police station and gets them a reliable vehicle and some guns and ammo, also taking the same for himself. He then puts on a fresh police uniform, complete with his hat, to lend himself credibility as he moves through the world. The Joneses stay behind while Rick heads towards Atlanta, hoping to find his wife and son with his in-laws there.

I haven’t rewatched the beginning of the TV series since it first aired but the first issue of the comic is largely as I remember. It’s a good introduction without being too heavy on exposition, instead allowing the artwork to establish the world. I do recall Rick staying around the Joneses for a little longer than is shown here and there is no sign of him giving Morgan a police radio as he did in the TV show. Hopefully I’ll be able to enjoy the comic’s story as it develops separate from the ongoing story of the TV show.

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