'An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months, society has crumbled. The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility. No government. No grocery stores. No mail delivery. No cable TV.
'In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living...'
With US cable network AMC rolling out a much-anticipated TV adaptation of this iconic comic series this October, it seems the perfect time to take a quick look back at where it all began: with Issue #1 of The Walking Dead ('Days Gone Bye'), back in 2003.
Yep, that's a long time for a zombie comic series to run, especially keeping in mind that this series kicked off some time before the current zombie boom. But then, that's precisely the premise behind this groundbreaking publication: that in the event of a zombie apocalypse, there would never be any neat conclusion, with our heroes walking off into the sunset; things would just...keep going. Day after day after day...
In issue #1, small-town cop Rick Grimes is gunned down in the line of duty, awakening from his subsequent coma to discover that the world he knew - along with his wife and child - has gone. From there, the series focuses almost exclusively upon Rick, his journey, and the lives of those he encounters along the way. Kirkman's vision of life after the zombies is bleak and uncompromising, pulling no punches with regards to zombie mayhem and human brutality alike. The ongoing plot, meandering along in a disturbingly lifelike way, is always engrossing (though occasionally and deliberately mundane), and features a strong cast of evolving characters that the reader will quickly empathise with (though not necessarily like).
The Walking Dead stands as a wonderful and affecting piece of literature, complemented beautifully by Moore's strongly detailed black-and-white illustrations. Fans of zombie literature who may not necessarily be fans of graphic novels (and I count myself among them) are nonetheless strongly advised to pick up a copy of Issue #1; I defy you to be able to put it down again.