Zombocolypse: Mechanics, setting and situtation

by Alex Hern

1. How well has Kirkman thought through through his version of a zombie apocalypse? How much do the mechanics, setting and situation owe to the existing parameters of the genre, and indeed, how is it distinct from other portrayals?

I’m not convinced a slow-moving zombocalypse (n. zombie apocalypse; end of civilisation due to rise of the walking dead) is realistic. We hear things like “in the first couple of weeks, the army thought they could get it under control”, and I just don’t believe that, with zombies like this (the classic, slow moving, destroy the brain to kill them ones), they would win if the army were still around and organised weeks later.

With these zombies, I’ve always seen the classic problem being that the infection moves faster than they do. Zombie bites man, man gets in car, man arrives in new city, man bites zombie. But that only works if you have the infection spreading rapidly, because you can be damn sure that within a couple of weeks, people would realise that, and you wouldn’t be allowed in refuge centres with any broken skin.

I know I’m overthinking, but that’s I’m being asked to do!

I do like that Kirman shows the zombies eating things other than people. The food supply can be maintained! It stops them having the 28 Days Later cop-out ending (actually, I didn’t think it was a cop-out in that film, but it still isn’t really how a zombie film should end) of “they all starved to death the end.” If these zombies can eat other things, they’re going to be around for a while.

Like I say, these are classic zombies, and I really like how Kirkman uses that. No boring exposition of “one bite and it’s over, man!”, since he knows all his readers know how zombies work.

That said, I feel like the tone of this book requires some self-awareness. I’m not sure if it comes later, but I don’t think it does given where it seems to be heading, but: I’d like someone to come out and say “zombies”. Or even, Shaun of the Dead-style, “the z-word”. I mean, when none of the characters show any surprise at the “they bite you and you get it” transmission (and I get that the only person we see actaully learning it is Rick, but still), I kinda wonder if that’s because they sort of already knew it from all the times they’d seen a zombie flick.

As for setting and situation (and I know I’m running long here, but again that’s because I don’t really have much to say for some of the later ones), I like the fact that (like all good zombie flicks), cabin fever is a big issue. But it’s weird that they aren’t really cabined up. They have a freedom to move which could lead to some interesting scenarios down the road (I actually know, from the amazing map of the series, that they do become quite mobile, but apart from that issue 6 is where my knowledge ends.)

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