The Walking Dead Claim Another Victim

I have finally succumbed to The Walking Dead. As I had noted in a post earlier this week, I am ensconced in a friend’s apartment, house-sitting, with access to–among other things–an impressive collection of graphic novels. Included in them is the first compendium of The Walking Dead comic book series (Compendium One, May 6, 2009, issues 1-48), which I’ve worked through. I’ve also immersed myself in the AMC television series, watched the six episodes of the first season and am five episodes deep into the second; as you can see, I’ve been spending my time well. (I’m not a serious consumer of comic books so this represents a change in my reading habits and an investment in time. It has not been one I’ve regretted in the least.)

Obligatory show-comic comparison: the novel is starker, darker, more complex, but the show has its own strengths in creating and sustaining  moments of chilling horror and in the development of interesting characters and story-lines.

So, post-apocalyptic horror, eh? What is it good for? Well, the taglines at the back of the Compendium say it quite well:

How many hours are in a day when you don’t spend half of them watching television? When is the last time any of us REALLY worked to get something we wanted? How long has it been since any of us really NEEDED something that we wanted?

The world we knew is gone.

The world of comfort and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility. An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled, no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV.

In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living.

And living, really, when you get down to it, is a series of hard choices that need to be made. Portraying the making of those choices, in a world whose most distinctive characteristic is the corrosive proximity of death, disease,  and danger, is what gives both the comic books and the television series their gravity.  There is violence aplenty, but it is not what gives The Walking Dead its air of dread. That has been accomplished, quite well, by ensuring the world inhabited by Rick Grimes and his family is one whose relentless demands can produce in a parent the otherwise unthinkable thought that it might be better for an injured child to succumb  than to recover into a world made anew like this one. It’s  the visceral thought of a world like that is the fear that animates The Walking Dead.

For philosophy professors looking for pop culture material to illustrate reading lists: the show and the novel both bristle with segments that could be drawn into classroom discussions of states of nature, libertarian philosophy, ethical dilemmas, philosophy of technology, feminism, race relations and so on.

Note: I intend to write a follow-up post on the show’s treatment of sexuality.

4 comments on “The Walking Dead Claim Another Victim

  1. lol
    Hi Samir good to hear from you. Its me Alida, your wife’s friend,the only Puerto Rican, married in a Hindu ceremony. Anyway.. I laughed through this blog. Looking forward to your follow-up. A big hug for you and the pretty lady.

  2. […] In my recent post on The Walking Dead–in comparing the comic book series to the AMC television series–I said that I found the comic book more complex, more brutal, truer to the darkness of a post-apocalyptic world ruled by the dead and diseased. In saying this, it seemed to me that the filmmakers would have done better had they hewn closer to the comic’s story-lines and characters, thus capturing its zeitgeist by trying to display a greater literal fidelity to it.  In response, a friend said he preferred the show deviate from the comic book, as it already has, considerably, because he liked the idea of being surprised, of finding out anew what the show’s writers had done with it. I  take it that by this he also meant that he looked forward to the possibility of the show reinvigorating the comic book’s basic premises.  And thus, we found ourselves at the oldest of debates when it comes to cinematic adaptations: Should you-the writer–stay (with the original)–or should you go (by yourself)? […]

  3. […] Last year, I discovered The Walking Dead (the television series and the comic book). Like most fans of the television series, I’m all caught up now with the second half of the third season. Given the disappointing nature of the first two episodes of the second half, I’m glad that I have something else to take care of my Walking Dead jonesing: the massive second compendium of the comic book (Compendium Two, Image Comics, 2013), which collects issues 49 through 96. (The series is up to issue 108 by now, so it will be a while before the third compendium will be released; in terms of tracking the relationship between the comic book and the television series, the third season is right about where the first Compendium ends.) […]

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