THE WALKING DEAD - By Michael Moloney
Introduction (by contributor Jonathan Alexandratos): I've been working with Michael Moloney for a number of months now. Michael is 17, and hasn't had the typical U.S. high school experience (he grew up in Canada, educated outside of their standard system). Perhaps because of this, Michael has an immense amount of knowledge, and can eloquently translate his passions into fantastic, college-level essays. He is passionate about THE WALKING DEAD, and produced the below piece which analyzes both the comic book and the TV series according to three of Robert Kirkman's criteria for a good zombie narrative, which he lays out in Volume 1 of the trades. As you read this essay, you'll see that Michael has obtained and harnessed a great talent for writing, at a very young age. I also think you'll find his points about the comic and the show both sophisticated and intriguing. Here's Michael's work:
THE WALKING DEAD by Michael Moloney
The Walking Dead is a unique series, as it deals with people pushed to the limits of themselves just to survive against hordes of the walking dead. I prefer the comic to the show, but that's mostly because of the “television changes.” What I mean by this is TV shows will often have to change the vision from the original. In other words they have to up the drama and character bonding to attract a wider viewer base. The comic however is much more streamlined with the horror aspect as well as the drama and character development. For instance, there will often be minor problems in the comic that are resolved easily, whereas in the show it takes 2 issues in the comic for 2 seasons (like the Lori and Shane storyline). But at least they kept the ending to that issue the same, where Carl shoots Shane thru the neck to protect his father (this is the first and last time I liked Carl in the show).The three criteria that Robert Kirkman, the writer of the comic, put in place to make his story as good as it is (as set forth in Vol. 1 of the trade collections) are: dealing with extreme situations, Rick changing throughout the series, and having a realistic Zombie Apocalypse.
The characters barely ever get a breather as something almost always goes wrong as quickly as it goes right. That is definitely one of the series’ selling points that there’s rarely a dull moment. The way most of the instances are delivered is brilliant as well as realistic to a degree. So here's how our survivors’ luck holds out: they start off in a camp just outside of Atlanta, which soon gets overrun by zombies, who, in turn, eat a good chunk of the group (depending on medium). They then make their way to a farm where Karl gets shot, which I rather enjoyed. Could you say why this plot point was a favorite? They stay at farm until it gets overrun by zombies. Currently they are in a prison but given the pattern that's going on, I have a feeling I know where that's going.
The main character, Rick, starts off as a small town cop put in a coma after being shot, only to find, when he wakes up, all hell's broken loose, literally. This is my favorite way to begin a zombie story because of the sense of being completely unprepared, as well it eliminates one of the make or break points: how the outbreak started. Rick changes through out the series as things get more and more hopeless (best friend sleeping with wife, who then tries to kill him, wife dies, lose home after home, friends constantly dying around him, and now he has a tyrannical Governor beating down their door), to the point were he goes a little mad, but we all go a little mad sometimes.
This series is a shining example of what the zombie apocalypse would be like. It's gritty, dark, hopeless, and best of all there are insane morality choices the characters are forced to make just to survive. Not to mention that zombies aren't the only thing trying to kill them, but humans as well. Then there's the zombies, who look absolutely putrid, which is a good thing believe me. The make-up team is the best at making disgusting, scary, yet plausible zombie make up.
In conclusion. The Walking Dead is a great well rounded series. Unfortunately I don't see them doing well in the long term. Because people will lose interest since the show has a pretty noticeable pattern going on. With that said they could save it if they recycled the story with a new group of survivors. But other than that even the crowds' love of Daryl can't save it from its impeding extinction.