My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I came to this series after getting hooked on the TV adaptation. I’d heard of it, watched it fly off the shelves in my library, but never really connected with it. The stunning cinematography in the show and reading that a lot of this was directly from the comic book finally convinced me, and I’ve never looked back.
This is a series about growth, about survival, and about (ironically) living and it’s all set up so beautifully in this opening book. Kirkman writes in his introduction to the book about wanting his zombie series to question the fabric of society we live in, to explore how people deal with the extreme and how the extreme changes people. He makes no bones about the bigness of this series and that’s something rather brilliant.
Days Gone Bye then is the setup volume to the saga. It’s full of an almost effortless poetry that brings our key character into the centre of events. Rick Grimes. He’s the fulcrum of our series, our everyday cop forced to deal with events he can’t even initially begin to comprehend.
It’s a bloody, poignant, pained, vicious story with an emotional heart to it right from the first frames. Tony Moore’s art is very, very luscious. Coloured in greyscale, it’s a book that revels in shadows and light. There’s panels where you can see people breathe, their breath puffing out into the coldness of the night, and it’s moments like that are stunning. The difference between the dead and the living is explored in a thousand subtle ways and it’s when we get characters flirting with the edge of life, that’s when things get really interesting.
Moore allows space in his work which in turn allows the novel to really (no pun intended) breathe. The scenes of Rick in the hospital for example are superb. There’s so much in this, a dynamism to even the stillest of panels that makes this book epic.
Kirkman creates world here, and he does it very very well with what feels like an effortless glee. It’s the textual equivalent of an arthouse zombie movie done on a massive budget with an seemingly unlimited scope. It’s really, really unbelievable stuff.
I am not one for horror but I am one for this book. It’s a series that has, inevitably due to the subject matter, violent content but it’s not a series that *is* solely centred on this content. If you’re sharing this book with others, I would suggest that you read it first (there is some distinctly adult content) and make sure you critically assess the suitablity of it for your particular context.