It was May 2004. My team, the Calgary Flames, had just lost game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a controversial game 6. And, I had to get my wisdom teeth pulled, plus a few extra molars. In anticipation of the days of bed rest that would follow and making myself feel better from the difficult loss, I entered my local comic store to get a thick stack of reading material. I specifically recall this being a big purchase, it must have been a payday. Before cashing out, and getting my new comics home, I saw a nice little stack of a new graphic novel. With its appealing red cover and its Zombie theme (which was at a time when I was soaking up all the old zombie classics) I thought it was worth a look. With that $9.99 price tag, plus the %10 off my local comic dealer was giving me since I was a child, there was low risk involved in reading this new book, Walking Dead.
And, oh was I rewarded. In fact I remember reading this book twice the day I got those teeth pulled. And then again, a couple days later after I was off the pain killers.
The thing that appealed most to me at that time, and probably still today, was the introduction from Robert Kirkman. His passion for zombie culture, and his ambition to create an ongoing series surrounding a global apocalypse stood out for me. This guy got it, he understood what I wanted as a fan.
That book, that experience, has been one of my favorite’s in my reading career. So much so, that I bought a second copy of that same graphic novel to share. I liked letting people read my comics. I had a nice bookshelf in the middle of me and my roommates living room that I would encourage friends and family to read from. But that first copy of Walking Dead volume one was precious to me, we shared an experience together. Given, I was high on some of the most powerful pain killers I have ever had in my life. But, an experience none the less. Thus, I had to stash that sacred copy away, and I had to purchase a decoy for my shelf.
Then the recommendations started. I was big into comics at this time, having a decent job and next to no financial responsibilities. There were many people I liked to push new books on, but for this book in particular, the one I remember recommending it to the most was my older brother. “You need to read this book. It is a very big deal.”
He didn’t read it.
And, you know how I know that? Six years later. Six years later AMC releases the Walking Dead live action television show. Of course this was huge for me, it is always a victory when a book you love gets an adaptation and the respect it deserves. But my brother comes to me after the show started gaining its much deserved popularity. Six years later, he says to me, he says, “have you heard of the Walking Dead?” Are you kidding me? I made certain to remind him of the train he failed to hop on early.
Anyways, I would give you a synopsis of this fantastic graphic novel. But, I am certain most people reading my blog have been there. I would talk about how wonderful of creative mind Robert Kirkman is, and how strong his voice is on social commentary. But, we’ve all seen that. I would give this book my highest rating, and the ultimate recommendation. But, why bother? It is only one of the most important graphic novels released in the last 20 years, no big deal. So I’ll just leave it at that.
Thanks booknerds, for the fond walk down memory lane.