I've been reading The Walking Dead comic series for years now, with the kind of sick, compulsive horror that is the mark of great dramatic tension in narrative. One of the surest ways to establish dramatic tension is to have a characters in bad situations who are trying intelligently to solve their problems, failing, and falling into worse situations. Key to this is that the characters have to try intelligent solutions to their problems, because otherwise the story becomes an exercise in watching a fly batter itself to death on a windowpane.
The Walking Dead is one of those zombie stories in which the intelligent solutions attempted by each character represents a kind of local maximum, the best action for that person at that minute, but disastrous in combination. In that sense, it's a kind of extended riff on the collective action problem, the age-old conundrum of figuring out how to work together for a common goal that will improve all our lives in the end, when there's always a good, immediate opportunity to pursue one's immediate advantage -- and when, at any moment, someone else in the group might seize on that opportunity and shut you out of it.
So previous volumes of Walking Dead have demonstrated the problems and promise of strong-man authoritarianism, family groups, nomadic collectives, fortress societies, limited democracies, individual autonomy, and every other variation and permutation, presenting the reader with the twin fascination and horror of watching a group of characters each acting (more or less) intelligently, but collectively behaving like a fly battering itself to death on the proverbial windowpane.
Now, after 14 volumes, we have the fifteenth Walking Dead compendium: We Find Ourselves, in which the characters finally, finally figure out how to work for their common interests, after years and years of slaughter and tragedy and horror. I read the book over Christmas, and it was like a holiday gift from the creators to their faithful readers -- a respite in the relentless grind that these infuriating and brave people have had to endure and that we've had to watch.
And of course, I'm already feeling mounting anxiety at the thought of what will befall this embryonic glimmer of hope in the volumes that are to come.
And that's dramatic tension.
Walking Dead Volume 15: We Find Ourselves
Previous Walking Dead collections
Zachary Zmith writes, “A Kickstarter is funding beautifully-designed and illustrated editions of classic stories, with illustrations from Paul Pope, Yuko Shimizu and Bill Sienkiewicz. They have already met their initial goal to fund a version of Algernon Blackwood’s ‘The Willows’ with art by Paul Pope. If they reach $100k, Bill Sienkiewicz will illustrate H.G. Wells’ […]
Asaf Hanuka is a celebrated Israeli cartoonist whose astonishing, surreal illustrations serve as counterpoint to sweet (sometimes too-sweet) depictions of his family life, his complicated existence as a member of a visible minority in Israel, the fear he and his family live with, and his own pleasures and secret shames — a heady, confessional, autobiographical brew that has just been collected into The Realist: Plug and Play, the second volume of Hanuka’s comics.
SOG’s $60 Sync II “wearable belt buckle” multitool isn’t the only multitool/buckle on the market, but it does add a couple very sensible innovations, like a clip-on/clip-off base that lets you use your tool without taking off your belt, and a squared-off form factor (like a pair of folding travel sewing scissors) that adapts the […]
While some people still maintain that everything in Apple’s walled garden “just works” and is immune to the rampant malware of the Windows world, the reality is different. The Mac’s growing market share has made it a much more viable target for malicious actors, and its built-in tools aren’t always enough to fix things. Drive […]
Boasting an IPX6 waterproof rating, the Trakk Bullet Ultra Compact Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker resists dust and heavy rainfall. It’s currently available in the Boing Boing Store.The Trakk Bullet offers the same wireless convenience as other portable speakers, but few are built as tough as this one. Its utilitarian construction is designed to be a totally low-maintenance […]
The Ticwatch 2 Active Smartwatch is a simpler take on an active wearable that raised over $2m dollars on Kickstarter and is currently offered in the Boing Boing Store.Somewhere in between the single-day battery life and platform-specificity of the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices, there exists the Ticwatch. Instead of trying to shoehorn another […]