Musings & Mayhem

4th of July Holiday Weekend
Walking Dead Marathon on AMC

July 7, 2013

Is Gangrenous Corpse Green the New Black?...

At least, that's what I’ve been asking myself the last few days... 

I’ve been in my writer’s cave most of the year, working on Elfkind, and Chasing Brother Moon now that my edits for Elfkind are in to my publisher for the next step.  This past holiday weekend, amidst friends and fireworks, and even a Masquerade Ball, I emerged briefly to join the portion of the civilized world shrewd enough to be watching AMC’s hit series, The Walking Dead

In a day and age when vampires have become all but played out in mainstream media, zombies are stepping up as the new big badies on the block.  Oh sure, I’ll still take John Carpenter’s Vampires or Blade any day (Norman Reedus again, yay!).  But perhaps vampires have become too prolific for my taste, too conventional even.  I guess I like my creatures of horror gritty and dreadful.  Real, or not at all.  And if storytellers keep doing zombies the way Walking Dead is doing them, they are only going to become more popular.

That’s not to say zombies are new to the scene.  Zombie literature, movies and television have been around for many years, but these creatures are seeping into daily discussions in a way I’ve never seen before.  And I believe we have Walking Dead to thank for that.

I can't be the only one playing Zombie Apocalypse while killing time with friends: You’re in line to ride Space Mountain and the zombie apocalypse breaks out — how do you survive?  It’s easy enough, and fun to imagine these things while safely ensconced between turnstiles and cotton candy, but some industrious writers have taken such imaginings a step further. 

They have manufactured the true heart of survival on the page and successfully transmuted it onto the screen

Three years ago I was so busy with work, teaching, writing and barely squeezing in episodes of Game of Thrones, I didn’t realize I’d missed most of Walking Dead's first season.  I hate jumping into complicated story arcs mid-stream.  You lose too many of the subtle nuances when you do that, especially when the writers and actors are skilled enough to deliver a world of meaning in a simple look or gesture built upon the rich history of the storyline. 

This show is rife with those kinds of intricacies.

That’s what this show is — elite, sophisticated, intellectual story-telling set against the backdrop of a freaking zombie apocalypse of all things.  And the cast is phenomenal!!!

Until this weekend, I’d been biding my time, hounding my DVD-owning friends for a Dead marathon, dodging spoilers, half-listening to the chatter about new plot developments, watching the media hype it, painfully avoiding Chris Hardwick’s Talking Dead.  Not to mention, I haven’t been able to get a ticket to Comic Con the last four years (not for lack of trying).  It has all led up to the last three days for me, when I finally got to watch Walking Dead for myself.

I dare anyone to watch all three seasons back-to-back and come out unchanged. 

[Warning: minor Walking Dead spoilers]

I couldn’t even stay put on the couch.  Half the time I was on the floor or sitting on the edge of my coffee table, nose-to-nose with my 52” flat screen — hoping Rick didn’t crack, cringing from Merle and the Gov, wanting to shake Andrea and hang with Mishonne, rooting for Glenn and Maggie, and just counting the moments until I got another glimpse of Daryl shooting his crossbow or riding his bike. 

He’s on a vintage Bonneville after all, and I’m a fellow rider/archer/enthusiast.  Respect!  (Of course, that fan-girl stuff goes all the way back to Boondock Saints.)

Meanwhile, the producers, writers and actors of Walking Dead have gone in and re-programmed my perspective in subtle ways that are likely to have implications in my own writing — in a beneficial way.

So while it’s all well and good they’re telling zombie stories, what really matters is that the show is exploring questions about the human condition, moral obligation, forgiveness, desperation, perseverance, tenacity in the face of great loss, the hard choice between mercy and survival under the duress of extreme conditions, opportunism and the expense to others, the hero’s journey and even (to quote another favorite franchise) the needs of the many versus the needs of the few, or the one. 

How do we get back up after being beaten down for so long?  How does it change who we are and how we see the world?  Can anyone really come back from utter travesty and still be a good person?  What does it take to break our spirit completely? 

These topics are all relevant in our modern lives.

On July 19, 2013 the Comic Con trailer for Season 4 of the Walking Dead premiers on Facebook (for those of us unable to get tickets to the con).  And in October the new season begins.  I’m in.  I’m all in — hook line and sinker.  And now I can start watching Talking Dead as well.  Yay! 

Final note to the show writers & producers:

I commend your willingness and ability to pull the trigger on well — let’s tell it like it is — most of your key characters — for dramatic affect of course.  The tragedies catapult the plot and characters in amazing new directions with poignant finesse and style.  No death has been wasted so far.  I teared up more than once, and I can only endeavor to do as well with readership connection to the characters in my own stories. 

But I promise you in all seriousness:  if you kill off Daryl Dixon, I’m OUT. 

You had the foresight to write in a part for Norman and he ran with it.  Don’t do anything stupid now.  Any crazy ideas, and you just put down those pens and back away from the script.  Nice and easy now.  That’s it.  No one else needs to get hurt.  Well, okay, just not Daryl.

Season 4 in October — can't wait, can't wait, can't wait!


Norman Reedus with His Vintage Triumph







Season 4 Coming in October

Rick in Atlanta

Shane, Dale, Lori, Rick, T-Dog, Carl, Andrea, Glenn, Sophia, Daryl, Carol, Jacqui and Dr. Jenner

Glenn, Andrea, Hershel, Maggie, Shane, Rick, T-Dog, Lori, Daryl and Dale

Daryl and Carol on the Bonneville

Rick and Daryl

Daryl, T-Dog, Rick, Maggie and Glenn

Michonne, Rick, Oscar and Daryl