Summer, back in 2011, I reread the whole compendium one, 50 something issues (up and beyond the prison saga) listening to Weezer's Blue Album on repeat. One of the best reads I've ever had. The contrast of upbeat pop nerd rock with the depressing post-apocalyptic visuals really worked somehow. It's weird how clearly insignificant experiences like that sort of stick in your mind.
So it's safe to say The Walking Dead is a great read, and i'll keep reading it and recommending it to everybody I can (I still haven't gotten my Compendium edition back from my girlfriend! - somebody who didn't like comics). I have nothing but admiration for Robert Kirkman's writing, but I'm going to be honest here and go ahead and say something I've been thinking for a while now:
Charlie Adlard's work can be a bit screwy at times.. There.
It all makes sense when you realise that the guy puts out 3 PAGES A DAY (I can't even imagine being that productive) when the usual comic practitioner does just 1. I feel bad for even giving Adlard shit when he get's enough criticism as it is in the 'Letter Hacks' letter column at the back of every issue. But damn sometimes I find myself detached from the comic because of his creative input.
Here's 5 whole reasons why Charlie Adlard fails to impress this arrogant comic know-it-all twat wad. And to offend less I'd like to go on the record in saying, this is all just like my opinion man:
1. GENERIC EXPRESSIONS
- Facial expressions of the characters (especially in the later more recent issues) are often way generic. Everybody makes the same faces in conversation and I don't think it marries the dialogue as well as it should. A bit of variety would be plenty to make the dialogue driven chapters more exciting and inviting to new readers - as well as adding an extra layer of character depth and such. I understand It's probably done this way to make it more subtle and realistic, but I don't think it really works personally.
this page is pretty much 6 panels showing 4 panels worth of imagery.
2. RUSHED PANELS
- Just in general. You can tell production was rushed when the artwork is messy and out of perspective and objects are too large or too little. Small things like that cheapen the book's feel to me. I know it's not Shakespeare but still. Panels can also be generic. Not in their layout, but in their content. So often Adlard uses close ups. Sure you get an intimate feel but it can grow tiresome... Although it does make for one heck of a dramatic juxtaposition when he throws a 2 page wide shot spread at you.
This stuff looks kickass. If only the rest of the pages looked like this.
3. OFF MODEL CHARACTERS
- Sorta ditto with the rushed panels bit. Because the artwork is rushed, the characters fluctuate in appearance. The panels as stand alone pictures look good, but side by side you notice the eyes or mouth are not where they're supposed to be, or their noses are too big, or they've grown taller since the last page. It grates on me. They look ugly. Perhaps I'm a perfectionist.
These faces aren't very appealing.
- Also more often than not the characters look the same. They all have the very similar faces. That's to do with the style really. But the only thing that really breaks that up is the different hairstyles or the addition of a hat or beard on a character. Otherwise, they'd all look pretty darn alike I reckon.
This old lady looks like an older version of Rick.
And this happens a lot.
4. UNBELIEVABLE SHADOWS AND LIGHTING
- This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, (why can't it look stylised? It's a comic book dammit!) but I don't always think it fits the subject matter. At times it works brilliantly and looks gorgeously reminiscent of Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead' (1968). But at it's worst the shadows don't feel thought out, they feel overused and look like they've just been slapped on to fit the part. Kind of like somebody trying to emulate a Frank Miller noir look. The story is all about establishing a realistic, believable environment to fuck shit up in. Throwing down crazy shadowing etc dilutes the believability of the position of the characters and the world to me.
It's broad daylight outside and that guys face is shrouded in pitch blackness. It's stylish, but to me it becomes repetitive and boring...
5. RECYCLED PANELING.
- It's a cheap way of cutting corners. I realise when you're pushed to meet a deadline you have to make certain exceptions, but it just looks cheap. Small price to pay to get the thing out on time I guess..
6. Tony Moore is too awesome (perhaps I'm biased). He established most of the hero lead characters (in issues 1-6), and that makes him a hard act to follow / live up to. I'm probably biased, and I have a feeling my views on the art for TWD would be different if Adlard worked on it from the get go.
(c) copyright Tony Moore
Everything else (c) copyright Image, Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard.
All in all who am I really to be so critical? These are all just my mental ramblings, sorry Adlard. The comic is such a huge success (I might have read somewhere that it's current top chart seller), and it's spawned a massive franchise, and a TV show in production of it's 3rd season. So somebody must like it ha. And after all is said and done I'm still definitely a fan.
I've written a brief comic related post in the past on my other blog to do with Hellblazer and Garth Ennis as a writer if you're interested.. It's kind of trashy - http://lrproduction.blogspot.com/2011/10/works.html