Cast of the Damned
by Alex Hern
2. The book quickly establishes a large cast. Are they believable characters? Do you care about them? If so, why, and if not why not? How is tension built between the characters, and is it effective?
Well, I was a bit annoyed to start about the “telling, not showing”. A lot of the tension was introduced by having someone say “there will be tension here”. The first we know about Rick and Shane’s issues is when someone says “I’d watch out for Shane if I were you”. The first we know of Donna having issues with Amy and Andrea living with Dale is when Donna says “it ain’t Christian them carrying on like that.” Jim’s issues are slightly better handled – you only realise he’s been so quiet when he first speaks, and it’s then that his background is introduced. Which is why I’m a bit annoyed he was killed off; I’d liked to have seen him grow as a character.
The only tension that really comes to a head in the first book is the Rick and Shane stuff, and… I’m not sure it was the best played bits. I kinda feel that the game Kirkman is playing he’d have preferred to let everything grow naturally, but that would have led to no conflicts for the first ten or so issues – which wouldn’t have been a thrilling read. So I can see why that slightly artificial tension was introduced.
And I have to say, the payoff was quite good.
As for whether the characters are believable, and whether I care about them…
Look, the vast majority get about two pages of time spread over three issues. For obvious reasons, then, Kirkman focuses on a smaller number. I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference between Dale and Allen, other than one is married and the other isn’t. Same with Amy and Andrea – although now that they’re separated, that could become more interesting. [And when I sent these responses to James and Seb, I completely forgot that Carol even existed.]
But the core team, of Rick, Shane and Lori, are very well handled. Like I said above, Jim is well done too (partially because his taciturn nature means you can know all there is to know in a panel). And I’m developing a strange liking for Glenn – which may just be because he’s got the next most page time, having been on two forays into Atlanta with Rick.