Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Walking Dead Volume 13: Too Far Gone

The Walking Dead Volume 13: Too Far Gone
By Robert Kirkman

Before continuing with this blog post, please bear in mind that I am not a comic book collector. I know precious little about comics, and it will show.

I have always strived to keep my reading as expansive as possible. I try to move from genre to genre as often as I can, shifting from fiction to non-fiction to historical fiction. As far as I'm concerned, I'll try anything once. A lot of this attitude comes from living in a non-English speaking country. Let me rephrase: A remote part of a non-English speaking country that provides the bare minimum of English anything, least of all, books. I have learned to read anything and everything placed in front of me. This includes graphic novels.

I used to be of the mind that graphic novels (or comics. I don't know how to differentiate) didn't count. They were like five-pin bowling, The Monkees or RC Cola. Reasonable facsimiles of something more substantial. Something more real.

It was The Dark Knight series by Frank Miller that changed my opinion. Until that point,my entire comic book reading career had consisted of a few dozen Archie comics and Bazooka Joe. It just wasn't something I did as a kid. When other kids were reading Batman and Superman, I was reading Encyclopedia Brown. When those same kids were discovering The Sandman I was reading Midnight's Children. When I finally had The Dark Knight stuffed under my chin, I had all but dismissed graphic novels as a mutated form of arrested development.

Of course Frank Miller's depiction of Batman as an aging anti-hero who borders on the suicidal was eye opening to me. I had no idea that comic books had progressed past Jughead vs. hamburger jokes. I was that much in the dark. Miller's distopian world and his litany of villians was right up my alley. I read The Dark Knight three times in succession, on the same day. I simply couldn't believe what I had just read and seen.

To give you an example of my awe, imagine the that last movie you saw was the Ray Harryhausen version of Clash of the Titans complete with plasticene Kraken and Rubber Medusa head. Fast forward several decades and sit down and watch The Matrix or Avatar or any one of the special-effects driven movies out today and you've got an idea of my misconceptions about comics.

I'm still not much of a comic reader. I've only really been sucked into the one series. And granted, the appeal of The Walking Dead series owes more to my love for all things zombie than to my love of comics. But my eyes are opened to the possibilities of the graphic novel. Any serious reader cannot and should not dismiss comic books. Comics are as much a part of our modern literature as any novel, play or poem. If you are dismissing graphic novels, you are dismissing a very large and very complex portion of the global library and that would be a shame. I'm not remotely qualified to talk comics on the internet, but as a reformed book reader addressing other book readers who may not read comics, give them a chance.

They'll surprise you.


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