The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye – Robert Kirkman

This is a tale of what happens to ordinary people when the zombies rise up and start eating everyone. A tale you have seen told dozens of times I am sure but this is on course to become possibly the definitive work of this genre. Any good apocalyptic story is all about the people left behind. It is a mirror of ourselves at the worst of times. In the introduction the author states this will be a mature, character-driven piece that is here for the long haul. At 16 volumes and going strong this is a rare chance to tell an epic tale of humanity. It is indeed very well written.

For those of you familiar with the recent television adaptation with a thirst for more this is an excellent way of getting your fix. They start off mirroring each other with the comic like a living storyboard. Scene for scene and even shot for shot they are twined but slowly they start to go their separate ways with each playing to their strengths. Characters are missing and scenes are altered before they each pick a different dramatic finale.

The art is excellent. The artist has a unique style and is not trying to ape any mainstream title. It isn’t black and white it is grey and dark grey. This subtle palette is used to great effect to portray their cold, bleak new world. The panel structure and layout is superb with no default setting. There are exactly enough images per page to tell the story from nine down to one. It has a genuine cinematic feel with lots of short little frames to move the story along, page wide strips to emphasize emotion and the bold full page image to stop you dead. There are some nice page-end cliff-hangers to get your heart racing. The characters are all well-defined and consistent. The facial expressions are very well done allowing you to truly feel their emotions.

It starts expertly with lots of pictures and little dialogue to convey the loneliness and isolation of this stark new world. It does unfold at a cracking pace and before you know it you are in the middle sharing the hopes and fears of these everyday folk. All too soon there is a dramatic turn, people die and once again you have been thrown into unfamiliar territory in this grave new world. This is a strong Thumbs Up!


Tomorrow: The Walking Dead Volume 2: Miles Behind Us – Robert Kirkman

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