Article from Issue #017

"The Walking Dead Chronicles" - Book Review

[Get a "Behind-the-Scenes" look with George Taylor and his collection of rare photos, making-of videos, cast & crew interviews, and book reviews.]

If you're anything like me you're cautious about "companion" books and any other form of tie-in merchandise. Especially when the subject has recently exploded into popularity like The Walking Dead. But you're in for a surprise if you blind buy the freshly released The Walking Dead Chronicles: The Official Companion Book. It's not a simple watered-down, bare bones rehash of information and images that any casual reader or viewer has seen, it's and actual behind-the-scenes documentation of both the TV show and the comic book.

The Walking Dead Chronicles book cover art.

Covering only the first season and it's comic equivalent still brings this book to a little over 200 pages. It starts off with an introduction by Robert Kirkman where he explains in further detail than previously published how the books came into being and a mini-history leading up to it's current status. It's accompanied by a foreward from Frank Darabont that's nicely written and heightens the unfortunate fact of his departure from season two. What follows is an excellent view of the process of adapting the extremely graphic comic to cable TV.

Side-by-side comparisons of the book's panels and final filming scenes are one of my favorite things about this product. The attention to detail from the source material shows why the TV series has became such a success. The character development is still Kirkman's in the show even though various creative liberties have been introduced and that keeps the legions of fans like us happy. The book goes into detail explaining how they've accomplished this from the very beginning with their discussions about the content with AMC. It's behind-the-scenes info like that that is scattered throughout the book in relevant locations rather than as a straightforward history. There's a certain casualness to the narrative whether it's from the interviewees or the writing of author Paul Ruditis.

The Walking Dead Chronicles book interior pages.

Another nice addition is the visual effects shots that are broke down layer by layer. From a multi-page feature on the "bicycle girl" zombie from episode one to the swarm of zombies in Rick's first trip to the big city, all the memorable scenes are covered. Lots of behind-the-scenes shots are included as well as makeup tests for the more well-known zombies and sequence storyboards that accentuate the similarities of the two mediums. Special Makeup Effects artist Greg Nicotero chimes in quite often with some of the best knowledge as his love for the craft really shines.

To say that the grand finale is simply an episode guide would be a disgrace. All six episodes from the first season get a synopsis and are joined by the discussions of how the show was shot and the meaning behind their decisions. As with the comic, just about everything was put in it's place for a reason and no phase of production is left uncovered. This is some real quality tie-in merchandise and I really really hope season two and beyond get the same treatment. I'm just appreciative that this one made it to publication and in time for the holidays. Or, if you can't wait, at less than $15 you won't go broke purchasing a copy for yourself now.

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