Obsession: The Walking Dead

New regular feature! When I love something, I quickly sink from appreciation to obsession, and from obsession to inspiration. And then I want to talk about my new obsession. With everyone.

It finally occurred to me that instead of harassing my poor coworkers, I should take them to you guys, where we’re already all looking for that next thing to inspire us. No regular schedule to these, I’ll just be posting them as obsession strikes me.

Do you have an inspiring obsession? Come over here and learn how to share it with the rest of us.

And now without further ado, today’s obsession:

The Walking Dead.

As a geek, I love this comic simply for the cool monsters. Zombies always win. As do vampires, werewolves, demons … you get the idea.

But I became obsessed because The Walking Dead is much, much more than a zombie fix.

It’s got a hell of a compelling group of characters at its center. And, as a result, a hell of a plot driving it forward. As a writer, I just can’t get over how incredible the storytelling is.

You’d think that after a while, zombies would become a one trick pony … Oh no, zombie! … Aim for the head! … Whew, that was close … Onward.

But instead of relying on the zombies to do the work for him, Walking Dead writer Robert Kirkman uses the zombie apocalypse motif to explore the brightest and darkest corners of humanity. And he puts this struggle between the good and the bad in every single one of his characters.

What does that get you? A sympathetic, basically good crew of heroes who are desperate and flawed enough that they just might do anything under the right circumstances. And an ongoing series of villains who are just mind-blowingly rotten. We’re talking far worse than zombies here …  psychopaths … cannibals … disturbed children … brain-bashing self-appointed dictators … I’ll stop there. I don’t want to ruin it for you.

This leaves the series field of possibility wide open, and Kirkman doesn’t think twice about taking us to the darkest, sickest corners of humanity. What’s more, you can tell he thoroughly enjoys every awful, gory moment of it. And I love him for it, because so do I.

But Walking Dead is more than a spiral of depravity—and herein lies the real genius of the series. It also exposes the best of humanity. The group at the core of the series continues to protect, love, and look out for each other no matter what comes their way. They call each other out when they start to tip toward the dark side, and always, always have each others’ back. Sometimes it starts to creep toward my touchy-feely-emotional overload, but because it can quickly turn to such extreme darkness, it’s never too much. And it’s never predictable.

Kirkman’s ability to always hold onto this balance while stringing me along threads of suspense is absolute storytelling genius. And of course the artwork is also just amazing.

And, also, you know, the zombies.

What are you obsessed with right now?


4 thoughts on “Obsession: The Walking Dead

  1. Great post, Emily. I, too, am obsessed with The Walking Dead, but I couldn’t quite grasp why I found the television show so compelling — until I read your post, which perfectly captured the reasons why this show is so interesting and popular. Thanks!

  2. I found this series relatively recently (2 months ago) and as a result watched most of Seasons One and Two back-to-back.
    Now, of course, I have to wait until series three is available to me – a rather long and agonising wait that may resemble a shotgun-induced hospital stay whilst the world around me goes to hell.
    Not really, but it’s still gonna be a long wait. 🙂

  3. Zombies. I do love them so. I was obsessed with The Walking Dead until the crazy CDC scientist at the end of Season 1- as a former scientist, that sort of thing definitely gets old (not that scientists aren’t crazy, but still…). I almost came back to the series when I heard about the zombie in the well, but never quite got around to it. Your post makes me want to watch again. Thanks!

    • The show is good, but what I’m really obsessed with is the comic book. If some of the characters or structure of the TV show doesn’t quite do it for you … give Compendium 1 of the comic a shot. There are some parallels in the big picture (some of the characters and locations they come across) but by and large the plot details are different enough that you won’t know what’s coming next. And it’s a lot richer in theme, character and plot development.

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