Over the past week and a half I’ve been reading collected editions in The Walking Dead series. I went back to revisit two volumes I had previously read, Books 5 and Book 6, so as to refresh myself on what had been happening since everyone was forced from the prison by the Governor and his men. I really couldn’t remember much of what happened after that, and I wanted to reread those books before picking up the most recent release of Book 7. Now I’ve made my way through all of those books, and I’ve enjoyed the experience…as I usually do when I read The Walking Dead. One of the things that makes Book 7 stand out is the group’s time in the Alexandria Safe Zone. As Carl reminds his father, it was strange that everyone should act as if life before the epidemic would go on as normal. In this volume, we see Rick’s group attempt to return to that normalcy, but ultimately fail due to various circumstances. This is what comes with complacency and denial, the storyline seems to suggest. Another way in which this book stands out is with the shooting of Carl…again. Early in the series he was shot by Otis, but this time he’s accidentally shot in the face by Douglas as he’s being attacked by the zombies. The closeup of this scene is typical of The Walking Dead: a full-page or even two-page spread that emphasizes a particular dramatic event in the story. It’s like an image, frozen in time, that is there to draw our attention and cause us to pause for a moment. I like this comic, but at times the closeups, and sometimes the facial expressions that accompany them, can be a bit over the top at times. Still, the image of Carl is striking, and highlights what will become the cliffhanger of that volume.
I’m also in the middle of reading Bradford W. Wright’s Comic Book Nation. What a wonderful cultural history. Wright, trained as a historian at Purdue–go Boilers!–brings a unique and much welcomed perspective to comics studies. It’s fresh to read about comics from a historian instead of someone whose background is in English. Most of the criticism out there on comics approach the medium from a more literary or even an art perspective. And all of this is fine, but there’s so much more than can be done with comics studies besides those kind of readings. In fact, that’s one of the problems I had with Heer and Worcester’s A Comics Studies Reader: there just wasn’t the variety of approaches. I wonder why the editors chose not to excerpt from Wright’s book?
Now that I’ve gotten through the latest Walking Dead deluxe volumes, I think I’ll turn to the run of Garth Ennis’s Preacher. I’ve been wanting to read this series for awhile, in fact.