Pencilled & inked by: Tony Moore (#1 – 6) Charlie Adlard (#7 onwards)
Rick – “This stuff changes people.I just watched my best friend flip out and try to kill me not a couple of days ago.I’d never seen anyone act like that... let alone him.”
Police officer Rick Grimes was shot in the line of duty and when he woke up in hospital he found the World had been overrun by zombies.Desperate to make sense of the situation he returned home looking for his wife Lori and son Carl, but when he found his family had abandoned their home he set off to find them. Fortunately for Rick he managed to catch up with his family and a group of survivors who explained the World had been populated with the undead and the shit had indeed hit the fan.Gradually Rick and the survivors formed a community, moving from one place to another in order to stay alive with new members joining them from time to time.No one amongst the group knew exactly what had caused the World to become a zombie wasteland, but they did know that if they were bitten by the undead they would turn into Zombies as well.Over the course of time the community increased and decreased but what remained constant was Rick, who continued to struggle with the world he lived in. Upon initial reading of The Walking Dead two things became apparent very quickly.The first was that it was an ongoing story not designed to have a clear end in sight; a kind of zombie soap-opera.The second was that the zombies were the secondary storyline, as the true horror came from the decisions the survivors of the World made in order to get from day to day.
In the opening pages of volume one of The Walking Dead trade paperback, writer and creator Robert Kirkman said, “with The Walking Dead I want to explore how people deal with extreme situations and how these events change them.”Over the course of subsequent volumes he certainly put that statement into practice by punishing his characters with the most gruelling scenarios imaginable and proved that none of them were safe.Survivors would come and go and not even main character Rick could escape mutilation or the loss of his nearest and dearest.When Rick first woke up in this strange new world he had to contend with it not being the same place that it was when he left, but he believed it would return to how it was before.Eventually he came to realise this was the way things were and nothing was going to change that. It wasn’t because death had taken a holiday and all hell had broken loose, but because he had to learn to change.Creator Kirkman took his time to develop a gradual change in Rick so that there never seemed any doubt that he made the choices he did because he had the best intentions.The motivating factor for Rick was to protect his family whatever the cost and from day one that had remained consistent.As he battled on he made friends and lost friends and even watched his son shoot his former best friend who had slept with his wife Lori.For the most time he became leader of the survivors, moving them to what he thought was a secure location inside a prison, but he found that even though he could keep the zombies behind the chain-link fences, problems would still exist within the compound.Kirkman cleverly made it clear that despite the zombie plague nothing had really changed and people were the same as they had always been. In fact it was the group of survivors who were the walking dead...not the zombies!
Over the course of the continued story Rick found yet more problems developed and it was always the human characters that were at fault as they just couldn’t seem to exist alongside one another without causing pain or misery.The worst of the people the survivors encountered was the Governor, who kept his own brand of order in a cordoned off town and went to great lengths to make Rick regret he ever came across him.The Governor raped, tortured and killed members of Rick’s group and even cut off Rick’s hand to feed to his zombie daughter (so he probably wasn't invited to many social gatherings).As ruthless and demented as the Governor was, Kirkman showed that he was still a person making choices driven by a survival instinct.He may have sat and watch decapitated zombie heads in a tank of water as though it was television (which was probably better than most reality TV shows), but in his own twisted way that was how he adapted to change.
As time passed in The Walking Dead new information was learnt on the zombies habits, but this didn’t change the fact this was a story about the end of humanity and how those last days were to be played out.The story of the surviviors journey was one of the greatest horrors in comics as it was all too close to reality and spoke more about the dark corners of society than people would have ever admitted. So how will the World end? Who knows. Maybe it won't involving the walking dead, but then maybe we're already on the path.
DEADLINES: *The titles of the first 11 trade paperbacks were: Days gone bye, Miles behind us, Safety behind bars, The heart’s desire, The best defense, This sorrowful life, The calm before, Made to suffer, Here we remain, What we become and Fear the hunters.
*The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman wrote the fantastic first series of Marvel Zombies (2005 -06) for Marvel Comics.
*Amongst his other works Kirkman has also created the teen superhero Invincible (2003) for Image.Invincible told the story of Mark Grayson, who was the son of the World’s greatest superhero, and soon developed powers of his own.His happiness was short lived however when he discovered his father was not the man the World thought he was.