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Sunday, 23 January 2011


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Christopher Petersen

Having read the entire series of "The Walking Dead" I've been very much enjoying your critical analysis of the work. Though I've enjoyed the story I've often been frustrated with some of its inane elements, especially concerning the dialogue. But you've helped me to at least somewhat substantially increase my appreciation for this work. Look forward to more.

Karl Steel

suggesting that Rick moved from his prone position to an attacking one very quickly
this makes sense EXCEPT for the action itself. Does Rick get up, ax the zombie, then fall back down, and then get up again? That seems to be what's implied by P5...but maybe P5 ought to be (or ought to have been) rotated diagonally. Then we could imagine the zombie looming over a prone Rick, who axes it in the forehead. Zombie falls to Rick's right, and then Rick stands up and pulls the ax out of the zombie in one action. I think this is what 'happened,' but what prevents this from being shown is the rigid grid structure of the panels. Kirkman couldn't rotate the zombie slightly without losing the close up. My sense is that Kirkman experimented with various solutions to the problem of the looming zombie and finally just said 'fuck it,' which means we have to have this weeble wooble Rick.

Randy Bomer

From panel one to panel two the only change is a slightly furrowed brow.
I notice one other little thing. In the first panel, his finger is crooked up under his nose, and in the second, it's back down in a fist. That kind of lip stroking is something someone does when they're thinking, not really when they're just sleeping. Tiny, but telling, detail. Thanks for bringing attention to this craft.


Randy: My students made a similar argument in class, actually, and I can't say I disagree. It's absolutely arguable, but there's one other detail in that panel that makes me think otherwise: the shiver. What are we to make of that? Following your argument, it could be because a breeze entered the tent, and he's shivering, which is why he looks toward the flap after pretending to be asleep ... and now I'm convincing myself you were actually correct.

Karl: I missed your comment. Stupid TypePad isn't sending me notices of them -- or they're ending up in my spam filter. That said:

My sense is that Kirkman experimented with various solutions to the problem of the looming zombie and finally just said 'fuck it,' which means we have to have this weeble wooble Rick.

I'm not sure why failed experiment is more probable than deliberate weeble-wobbling. After all, in a scrum, weeble-wobbling tends to be the norm. A consistent camera level and angle actually do a disservice to the constant movement involved in a fight. Think about boxing, which is largely framed from a single distance in order to allow the viewer to see the entirety of the fight. Now, imagine if you wanted the viewer to sympathize more with one or the other of the fighters: how you would do that?

Karl Steel

Nice comment, Scott. Answer to your last question you already know: generally the POV of the fighter you want to sympathize with.
In re: this particular fight, I don't think the reading of what happened as down up down and up again works to explain what's happening in the panels. I think he starts leaning on his left arm, ax in his right hand, zombie over him, he thoks the zombie with his ax-wielding right hand, zombie falls down, its weight forcing his right ax-holding arm down, he gets up, leans over his with left arm to dis-brain the ax, and is NOW, but only now, standing and ready. One thing we've learned here: Rick is either left-handed or he's ambidextrous and favors his left hand. A serious geek would make sure this stays consistent through the comic.

The mystery panel is the THOK panel, where you believe Rick's standing, and I believe he's still prone, but the POV is from a peculiar angle, and an angle that's used nowhere else on that page. Hence my reading, and what I ALSO like about my reading is that it's about very much about formal elements and formal constraints (which is really what I think is at stake on this page). Maybe it's not fair to say Kirkman just went 'fuck it,' but there's still something weird going on. I think.

Ah Um

Along with Randy's comment about the hand movement from panel one to two, notice Rick's hand moves back in panel three.

Interestingly, we only get a glimpse of his wife's hand (with ring) in the last panel; the other panels imply she was covered up by the blanket.

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