We interrupt your regular (well, already late) Geek Seek this week with a look at one of the most welcome and hyped new series over the past year or so, especially on the geek radar. The Walking Dead, if you somehow haven’t heard by now, is based on a comic by Robert Kirkman (Invincible, Marvel Zombies) and Tony Moore / Charlie Adlard, and said comic recently won best continuing series at the Eisners at SDCC. If there was a single comic that really kick started the huge zombie craze of the past few years (culminating in this year’s mega hit Chew), The Walking Dead would be THAT comic that came out of nowhere and shocked us – just like a zombie would, except without the lumbering, smell of rotting flesh and groaning noises.
The Walking Dead is about the world after a zombie apocalypse, and how the remaining humans respond to the zombie threat. Rick Grimes is the main character, an ex deputy sheriff (the sheriff department is now closed thanks to the apocalypse), and begins with his search for his family who has hopefully survived the zombie invasion. The beginnings of the TV series follows rather closely to the way Kirkman started the comic, but that’s definitely not a bad thing, given how well Kirkman’s story has been going. Whether or not the story will deviate far from the comic itself remains to be seen.
Having Frank Darabont as the showrunner was perhaps the greatest coup for the show, and it shows. The pilot episode is at once sombre and hauntingly quiet, without any of the to cheap scares horror movies employ these days. If anything, it can be said that The Walking Dead is not pure horror-horror, there are none of those common scares and sudden turns (or sudden cat appearances), and kudos to Frank Darabont for his most deft touch. Instead there is a hint of dread that lingers every so slightly at every scene, and most of the time the zombies are shown in full view – the danger is there, but we are protected by barred windows and locked doors. There is no real violence (save near the end), but only the promise of it, and that works to heighten the atmosphere. When the full fear finally sets in, and the horror gets kicked up a notch, we know we’re ready for the ride.
This is a very promising start indeed, and while Frank Darabont might not be bringing his directing pedigree for the other episodes, that AMC is rumoured to have ordered a second season even before the first aired is just going to warm to cockles of any fan’s heart – that is, if that heart is still beating.