Zombie Encyclopedia: The Walking Dead Survivor Guide

Most of you’ve heard of The Walking Dead in some form or another. There’s a TV show of the same name running for the last few years, and then there’s an offshoot of the main story, the TV show Fear the Walking Dead. Fair warning, there might be spoilers.

Of course, it all started with Robert Kirkman’s comic book of the same name. As far as I’m aware zombie-themed comic books gained a large boom in popularity with The Walking Dead.

That’s not to say there weren’t any other similar comics before, but it seems like The Walking Dead successfully managed to incorporate all those things readers and movie watchers love about zombie movies – gore, suspension and great character orientated plot.

I’ve joined the bandwagon sometime around 2012, and since then I’ve been a faithful reader. Some may argue that there’s a certain point when zombie media become cumbersome or clumsy in their execution.

There have been a few attempts by the recently deceased legend George A. Romero to follow a path to civilization in his, arguably, not so successful movies Land of the Dead and Survival of the Dead.

Night of the Living Dead by G. A. Romero
Night of the Living Dead

For some reason, zombie movies and zombie-themed movies always seem to fail when they attempt to show us rebuilding and reestablishment of order.

There’s a reason 28 Weeks Later devolved in its storytelling and returned to the more basic plot of “run for your lives.” The readers tend to lose interest.

There are a few reasons for this. Due to constraints of time movies tend to either concentrate on survival or rebuilding. While rebuilding in itself is a thing of interest, somehow it always fails to capture that feeling zombie movies are all about.

That’s not to say there are no good examples. In the zombie comedy Fido we are shown a post-zombie plaque society that is still interesting enough to draw in viewers.

What I want to say is, The Walking Dead comic become so successful, in part, because it had enough time to show us all the major aspects we expect in a zombie franchise. The first issues dealt in bare survival, then came small time attempts of regaining the footing at the farm and the prison.

The final issues are mostly centered around resolving large-scale human conflict, in which major groups battle for resources. The whole process is somewhat logical and gives the reader plenty of action, involving other people or zombies.

I’ll try to cut short my ramblings. The main point of this article is an introduction to the world of The Walking Dead, even though it’s become so well known that it might not be necessary.

Since the comic spans more than 170 issues, I’ve decided to cover the main thoughts concerning zombies in the comic and introduce to the readers’ something they might not be so familiar with. The Walking Dead Survivor’s Guide.

The Walking Dead Survivor’s Guide

Now, to get on topic. The Walking Dead Survivor’s Guide first came out in 2011 and was written by Robert Kirkman and Tim Daniels. What’s it about?

Well, it’s a really specific guide showing a large majority of characters that have appeared in the published issues of the The Walking Dead comics.

In short: “Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the cast of The Walking Dead.”

The Walking Dead Survivors' Guide #4 (of 4)
The Walking Dead Survivor’s Guide #4, Source: Skybound.com

Readers are reintroduced to the major and minor characters in the comic. Every character entry follows a similar form. There’s obviously a picture of the character and their name is displayed. What’s interesting is there’s also information about the status of the character (are they dead), their former and present occupation, their personal relationships (are they married, do they have children) and a short summary of their roles in major story arcs.

The guidebook is solid, offering information people might forget in the middle of the story and the drawings are enticing enough to make this a good purchase.

Though some people might have issues, because of its repetitive nature, it’s hard to read it front to cover in one sitting. But to be honest, this guidebook is not for that. It’s an addendum to the comic, that offers a concise way of storing character relevant information.

I wouldn’t recommend it to fresh readers, it might make them confused. But to the people that are already well inside the story, it’s a great complimentary piece, offering attractive art and useful information.

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