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Monday, November 29, 2010

The Walking Dead vs The Walking Dead

While I hope everyone has at least picked up the comic version of this series, I know that is not the case.  For those of you who have watched the show and not picked up the comic, shame on you.  If you have been buying the comic in our shop and you're not watching the show, shame on us.  No matter if you end up liking one more than the other, the important part is to be in a position to make a decision.

So far in the series (we are at episode 5 of 6 in season one), there have been some departures from the comic, but a solid translation of the spirit of Kirkman's original work.  There are some things I wish they had been more loyal with and others I hope they will loosen the leash on.  While it's easy to point out the plot differences between the comic and the TV show (CDC storyline being the most obvious), I'll leave those on the back burner for now and distract you with this image of Rick smashing some zombie brains. 

The most important thing I would ask for the show to consider is the difference between comic BOOKS and TV SHOWS.  The difference being show versus tell.  While it is a good rule to generally show rather than tell your audience what is happening, the readers of the comic are used to a lot of exposition.  While this feels natural and seem-less in the written/visual version of the story, the audio/visual incarnation needs to dial it back occasionally.  The clearest instance I can think of is the fishing sequence in the beginning of the fourth episode.  This scene would have been touching had I read it, but watching it was like staring at the nutrition facts on a bottle of water: Reading the full label isn't going to tell me anything I didn't figure out at a first glance. 

Their best moments, so far, have been those without words. The silence of Rick's disorientation and bewilderment were very powerful scenes.  A great way to start your story and the impact of silent scenes have been gaining momentum since Rick woke up.  My hope is not that these will outnumber the speaking scenes, but that they realize this is how they tug at the heartstrings the best.  Words get in the way of real emotions and the cast is good enough to convey raw emotion without telling the viewers what they are feeling, don't make them. 

I don't presume to know better than anyone else out there (especially the talented people working on these amazing products), these are just my opinions at this early point in the (hopefully) long life of The Walking Dead television series.  Comparisons are going to happen no matter how much we try to avoid them.  Read the comic, watch the show, and join in the nerdy fun of complaining about how "almost perfect" isn't good enough.  Don't complain too loud, though, Dale is looking right at you, judging you with this expression...

Soon enough, every single issue of The Walking Dead is going to be reprinted.  The comic will be released weekly and be the perfect opportunity for you or friends to catch up with Rick and company.  If those don't work for you, be sure to pick up the trade paperbacks, already available.  There is no reason you shouldn't read this comic AND watch the show.

- Ryan

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