Reading the Screen: The Walking Dead
Posted by: David Pitt
I finally had a chance to catch the first season of The Walking Dead on AMC. Engineered by three-time Academy Award nominee Frank Darabont, the series is based on the comic book series created by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore.
The Walking Dead, if you’re not familiar with it, follows Kentucky deputy sheriff Rick Grimes who, awakening after a life-threatening gunshot wound, finds that the world is overrun with zombies. Desperate to find his wife and son, he makes his way to Atlanta, Georgia, where there is supposed to be a survivors’ camp; what he finds, though, is a city totally taken over by the walking dead.
The television show expands on some of the comic’s subplots, and deepens some of the characters (putting, if you like, more meat on their bones), but you kind of expect that. What you don’t expect is an almost literal translation of the comic to the screen.
This is one of the most faithful comics-to-live-action transfers I’ve ever seen. Darabont and his writers follow the source material extremely closely; the first episode of the television series, in fact, is virtually a scene-for-scene (in some cases shot-for-shot) presentation of the comic.
How closely does the show mirror the comic? Compare this panel from the comic to a shot from an episode (used in an ad promoting the show):
If you’re a fan of the comic series, and you haven’t checked out the television show, I think you really ought to. And vice versa: if you’ve seen the show, you need to take a look at the comics. They really are, both of them, splendid.