The Walking Dead is one of my favorite comics. Not just, “lately,” or, “of those being published today,” but, “of all time.” It’s a great book about a group of survivors of the zombie apocalypse. So, they’re not breaking any new ground, they’re just doing what they do in a very compelling way.
One of the very best things about the book is its realism. That is, once you accept that there are zombies, you don’t have to accept anything else. It’s a study in human nature. It’s a Jack London story of survival, but they’re facing the ravages of wraiths rather than weather, nature or time. I know there are those who scoff at comics as not being “real literature” or something like that, but you’re wrong. Books like Walking Dead give proof to the power of the genre.
OK, selling point over. This is why I’m pissed: While the characters in the book regularly have to deal with the horrors of their plights, and that can be intense on a reader, you’re able to deal with it because it is fiction. I mean, you become as attached to these characters as you would in any good novel. It’s hard to watch them go through their pain – physical and mental – but in the end, it’s fiction. It’s all “what if.”
However, in the most recent issue, a character recounts a story from the past. It so happens that the story he tells is a real one. This makes sense. Adds some realistic depth to the post-apocalypse. The story he told is not one I ever wanted to hear again, though. It’s one I had put out of my mind after first hearing it and, truly, caused me a lot of mental anguish then and now.
I won’t go into too much detail to spare you (read the issue if you really want to know), but there was a tragic event in the news about a year ago where a drug-addled father mutilated his four-year-old son in a life-altering, permanent kind of way. However, they printed a comment from the boy who just very matter-of-factly recounted what happened to him. The words sting. I can’t even think about them without nearly tearing up with a mixture of revulsion, a desire to want to protect the child (all children), and a deep sense of lament that something like this could ever happen.
The quote was just four little words, but it just made the book a bit too real.