7/18/2011

On comics and zombies

Of late, I've become readdicted to comic books.

Recently I discovered you could buy trade paperbacks and hardcovers through Amazon, and so I've spent some cash in that direction. Every day I go to my post office box in the hopes that my latest purchase from Y: The Last Man has come in. I'm disappointed that it has not yet.

The main one, of course, is the The Walking Dead. 

For years, I thought the zombie idea was pretty dumb. Then Shaun of the Dead came into being, and that got me thinking a little more about what it would be like if mostly every human being around me became a threat. What sort of a life would that be like? How would life change?

Yet, most other movies did not really do much of anything for me. The two-hour zombie movie isn't really that interesting, because I'm not nearly as interested in one-off films. I'm much of a fan of watching a serialized filmed narrative.

So, when AMC's The Walking Dead came on, I was blown away. Characters developed over the six episodes, and the cinematography of an abandoned landscape evoked such sadness and loss. Never before had I been so immersed in what it would be like to be in the world of the undead.

Recently I had a dream about surviving the zombie apocalypse. I woke up thinking it was crucially important for me to purchase a copy of the Walking Dead, which began as a black and white comic. And, so I did.

Of course, this came the same week after discovering a web-comic called AMERICUS which depicts an attempt to ban a fantasy novel in a fictional Oklahoma town. One night I came across it when I needed a second stream of information while I processed some audio. I caught up with the entire thing in an evening, and found myself craving the flesh of the comic narrative. And when that ran out, what better comic to turn to than the Walking Dead?

And now I'm less than a third of the way through the saga, which deviates fairly quickly from the television show. I'm always fascinated with the different approaches taken when different media are used for the same story. As an entertainment, I'm riveted by the possibilities.

And, about three times a week, I am having vivid dreams about what it would be like to survive a world in which everyone is out to get me. I should stress, these are not nightmares. These are practical situations where I am trying to avoid threats. I'm finding that I'm much happier when I wake up after these dreams and I'm dreaming better than I've dreamed in years.

And all because I'm devouring an art-form I've generally stayed away from. I'm using my entertainment budget on something that's truly keeping my brain occupied, helping keep me sane in a world where sometimes it really does feel like everyone is out to get me, even though that's just a healthy dose of paranoia.

The other thing I'm reading at the moment is Grant Morrison's All Star Superman, which is such a breath of fresh-air. This 12-issue series isn't set in any particular continuity, but assumes the reader is familiar with the basic concept of the Superman universe. My favorite era is from the Silver Age, when writers concocted ridiculous notions about Superman. Morrison updates all sorts of strange minutiae, such as Superman's one-time predilection towards keeping a museum at his Fortress of Solitude in his own honor. Bizarro makes an appearance, and it am not good. It's been such a treat to read, and I'm savoring every page.

I even spent 30 minutes reading an issue to my kids, who have taken to comics like a politician to soundbites.I think this is a brilliant marvelous thing.

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