Walkers, that’s what we call them now. It seems that the world around has became completely infatuated with these undead, dead, alive, creepy, gloopy walking piles of human disease. Morbid? Nah! Just good, old-fashion, guts and gore fun!
The Walking Dead staggers and groans into its third season on AMC this October and has one of the biggest followings of any series in television history. A tightly spun dramatic story line bleeds over piles of gory special effects, created by none other than Mr. Greg Nicotero himself (for those of you who don’t know Nicoteros work, it can be seen in such films as Day of The Dead, The Grey, Predators, The Mist and Grind house among many others). His work and his studio, KNB, are the giants in the field of modern special effects. Needless to say, if his name is on the credits, it’s just got to be good.
Now take Greg Nicotero, and pair him with Frank Darabont – director of such epic films as The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, and you have yourself a cocktail for a top notch drama.
The Walking Dead started life as a comic book. Horror fans Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore watched Dead Alive and Dawn of The Dead as children, while eating a watermelon. Somehow feeling closer to the on-screen zombies by chewing on a wet red mess, hopefully the watermelon tasted better than the unsuspecting victims’ grey matter. Through their joint passion and love of these films they began making comic books, one of their first outings being Battle Pope, with Kirkman taking on both the writing, and Tony Moore blessing the panels with his sharp and incredibly addictive artwork.
The idea – a never-ending zombie holocaust follows Rick Grimes, a Sheriff caught up in a shoot-out, who is, at the outset, hospitalized and comatose. Grimes wakes up in hospital to find what is left of humanity. Silence and the odd moan float down the echoing halls of the hospital as he wanders around seeking a path to civilisation. It’s not long before we find that something has happened, a huge clue being corpses lying around with nice wee munchy marks left on bones where muscle mass should have been. The comics are violent, funny and completely enthralling. Kirkman and Moore manage to weave an inescapable web of curiosity that has you falling deeper, and wanting more and more.
For me, the comics (the first series anyway) are incredible; Moore’s art direction is second to none. Sharp and action packed, it is a fine partner to their storyline. To be honest, if it weren’t for the crowd of zombies…OOPS I mean, Walkers (we don’t call them zombies in The Walking Dead) on the front cover of these graphic novels, drawn with such detail and with inspiration bursting from the pages, I would probably have never even lifted the first copy. It’s clear to see that Moore’s hand was guided by pulling resources from old school movies from the likes of Romero and Jackson.
I was saddened to learn that Kirkman and Moore have fallen out. Each have gone their separate ways. Good things never last. It seems that the two could not work together on the story line and Moore was eventually and, in my opinion, pushed out of the project by Kirkman, who then grabbed artist Charlie Adlard to take on inking duties. It is, for me anyway, a horrible choice. Adlard doesn’t have the same strength and sharpness as Moore on the pages; he doesn’t have the same soul in the characters. His drawings look almost messy and loose, whereas Moore’s were blindingly intricate and sometimes confusingly simple in their pace; but it worked so well. This change, and knowing that Kirkman did this, ultimately put me off lifting another Walking Dead graphic novel. Thank god Moore went on to create FearAgent, a Sci-Fi bounty hunter epic set in different planets along space and time. He now works for Marvel, giving Venom incredible new looks and angles that have never been seen before. He is up there with my favourite illustrators and I hope he keeps it going.
That leads me neatly on to the darker, grittier territory between the two. When The Walking Dead was hitting our screens in all of its glory, Moore was cut cleanly from the royalties loop, leaving Kirkman to lap up the coin. Sketchy details are viewable on the web about legal battles from Moore to Kirkman, and rightly so! If you take comparison from comic art to the series, his drawings have been pulled from the pages by KNB and Nicotero and materialised. It’s angering that this can happen.
Don’t let this put you off watching The Walking Dead because I can honestly say that it’s one of the top zombie/un-dead/walker/horror epics I have seen and not to boast, but I’ve seen a shit ton of them. I thought when I heard it was being adapted for TV that it was going to be hushed down and hosed out. There wouldn’t be any gore, rubbishy blue pale people would be passed as walkers and the series would just be a money box for the broadcasting companies. However, it was clear from the first few episodes that this wasn’t going to be the case. Moore’s zombies/walkers are on screen, they bite faces, they rip muscles from arms and legs, blood splashes over people like…blood splashing over people. Nothing is lost, Darabont has done complete justice to the series and gives a nod to Moore and his work in the comics industry. Nicotero has let loose with the gore and detail of the zombies; bicycle girl is sure to be up in the top ten best SFX of all time.
The Walking Dead sees its’ third season this October and doesn’t show signs of dying out. It will hopefully stagger on for years, biting brains and holding strong plots for a long old time. So if you haven’t sunk your teeth into the fleshy goodness that is The Walking Dead, HURRY THE HELL UP! What, are ya dead or something?