Brain-spill: The Walking Dead & You

Posted on March 17, 2012 by

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By Thom Friend

Open your laptop on a Sunday night in March and you will most likely find that your Facebook and Twitter feeds are flooded with comments about zombies. Brain consumption is a fashionable topic amongst the college-aged demographic these days, and I’m here to shed some light on this post-apocalyptic phenomenon. We’ll take a closer look at the comic book and the television adaptation of the hit series, AMC’s The Walking Dead, as well as the history of the zombie itself.

While having its roots in West African and Haitian voodoo culture, “zombie-ism,” as we know it today began in the strange, strange world of exploitation films in United States. Films about reanimated corpses were made as far back as the 1930’s. However, it wasn’t until 1968 that director George Romero brought us a ground-breaking black & white horror film about flesh-eating zombies titled Night of the Living Dead.  It was all there; the slow and clumsy movements, the crowding together, the taste for flesh, and the classic zombie moan. Romero influenced an entire genre of film that would following his footsteps. Also spurring from the contemporary idea of the zombie are parody films such as Shaun of the Dead (2004), Fido (2006), and outbreak films such as 28 Days Later (2002), and 28 Weeks Later (2007).

Film isn’t the only format that zombie-based works have found success in. Video-games such as the Resident Evil series, Left 4 Dead series, the wildly entertaining strategy game; Plants vs. Zombies, and most recently Dead Island have also gained a strong following. As far as novels go, author Max Brooks, has published two prevalent works, World War Z (2007), and The Zombie Survival Guide (2003). However, even the classics are getting a face-lift (pardon the pun), such as the zombified remix of Jane Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice, fittingly re-dubbed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009).

Comic books are no exception to the hordes of zombie-related tales that are currently dominating the science-fiction world. However, none have compared to the overwhelming triumph met with Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, which has been an ongoing series since 2003. Kirkman’s comic is released in black & white monthly installments and has been critically acclaimed for its emphasis on character interactions; a breath of fresh air in the comic world. If you’re interested in reading the comic you can pick it up at any comic book retailer, such as That’s Entertainment on Park Ave. in Worcester.

    The Walking Dead was eventually pitched to AMC to be an ongoing television series. AMC singed the show for a 6-episode pilot season that began on Halloween night in 2010. Due to its undeniable success, the show was renewed for a full, 13-episode season beginning in October of 2011. However, viewers can expect some changes in season two.

First, according to aoltv.com, the writing staff has changed. The television series is only loosely based on the narrative of the comic-book, so writers have and use their freedom to make deviations. Thus, if you wanted to read the comic, but didn’t want to learn many spoilers from the show (or vice versa), fear not; the stories are quite different.

So, what’s all the fuss about? Well, if you haven’t seen the show or read the comics yet….

Be warned. Here, there be spoilers…

The story of The Walking Dead revolves around the central character, Rick Grimes, a police officer from Kentucky. Rick was shot in the line of duty and slips into a coma. Upon waking, he finds the hospital deserted. While he was snoozing, a zombie apocalypse broke out, and none of the walkers (The Walking Dead’s way of saying “zombies”) took a bite out of Rick while he slept. This was fortunate for us, because when Rick wakes from his coma, he leads us on an adventure into a brave and distinctly hungry new world; overrun with walkers. Somewhere out there lay Rick’s wife and child, and maybe, just maybe, a second chance for civilization. However, the path to safety is corroded by personal conflict, moral dilemmas, serious anger issues, and of course, masses upon masses of the undead.

Questions? Comments? Know way more about zombies than I do, and wish to enlighten me? I would love to continue the dialogue! Feel free to email me at Tfriend@worcester.edu.

Until then, remember… always aim for the head.

 

 

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