Similar but Different
I was introduced to the TV show “The Walking Dead” through Netflix. I saw it in the recently added section, and remember reading on Pajiba.com that many thought it was excellent. I started watching episode one after dinner, then finished the season early the next morning. I was hooked.
I was able to watch season 2 last year when it finally appeared on Netflix, but I had cheated and read the recaps on Pajiba for the episodes because, well, I wasn’t patient. A common complaint for season 2 was that the comics handled it so much better. So, I added the compilation volumes to my amazon.com wish list and waited until I felt I could splurge and get one or both.
My dear husband gave me both volumes for Christmas! So naturally, I dove in. First the artwork, I love the black and white style. It leaves enough shading that the mind can fill in all the gory details without the need to have it printed in color. The characters are fairly consistently drawn, even though I’m used to them looking different from the TV show. I found some of the paneling slightly confusing, but that could have happened in the format change from individual issues to large bound volume.
The story is excellent, starting off very similar to the TV series. But then the differences start, and oh boy, Robert Kirkman changed many, many details when he adapted his comic for television. The first volume takes our gang from the camp outside Atlanta, to the farm, to the prison and ends with the Rick and Carl on their own. Rick is still the noble sheriff, Andrea a natural sharp shooter, Maggie and Glenn becomes a couple and Carl still wears the sheriff hat.
The differences are plentiful. Shane is shot by Carl before becoming a zombie and before leaving the camp in Atlanta. Dale made it off the farm but lost his leg at the prison. Andrea and Dale are a couple and of course there are more major players like Terence and Michonne. The alterations for television have completely altered The Walking Dead from the comics.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m finding myself equally excited for the return of season three and reading volume two. I find at times that reading a property and watching the show at the same time it can be distracting but similarities make both instances familiar while the differences define them as separate stories.
If you enjoy the show, I suggest giving the comics a try. It’s a nice way to get a The Walking Dead fix during the off season. Both are zombie entertainment at its best (except season 2 – season 2 sucked).