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When Being A Fan Is The Scariest Hallowe’en Trick Of All

Here’s the thing: I am completely caught up in all of the hype surrounding The Walking Dead TV show. I have read the interviews, watched the trailers, been slightly skeeved out by the people dressing up as zombies and walking around the place to promote the show. I am entirely waiting for this show to knock my ever-lovin’ socks off. And that terrifies me.

It’s not that I don’t think that the show will be any good. Just the opposite, in fact; from what I’ve seen – which isn’t the full pilot because I am not one of those lucky people who got a screener, dammit – it looks like the rare adaptation that’s faithful to both the spirit and the letter of the original source without being a slavish recreation of it. But that just makes me more nervous, because it reminds me of how I spent my summer. Cue the special flashback effect, why don’t you?

I might be alone in saying this, but Scott Pilgrim Versus The World was easily my film of the summer (If it wasn’t for The Social Network, it’d have easily been my movie of the year, but that’s neither here nor there right now); smart, funny, fast-moving, a visual masterpiece and exactly the kind of movie that I had wanted the graphic novels to be adapted into. I remember seeing it for the first time, and just having a sense of “Well, that was amazing.” I couldn’t believe that it was so good, and also couldn’t imagine that the rest of the world would fail to recognize that. It had even gotten me past my dislike of Michael Cera! How could it fail?

I think we all know how that turned out.

This is what I’m reliving as I wait for The Walking Dead. It’s not that I’m worried that, if the show tanks in the ratings, then somehow the comic will go away and we’ll be left with nothing – Robert Kirkman’s head is, thankfully, much more screwed on than that, and I’m perfectly convinced that he’ll keep going with the series until he’s finished at this point, no matter what – but more that… Well, more that I don’t want to go through that odd, crushing rejection of realizing that everyone else doesn’t love what I do all over again.

There’s a much-discussed fan mindset that says that fans never want what they love to become beloved by the mainstream because it means that they’re no longer as special, and I’ve definitely had that moment once or twice. But more often, I have the opposite, when something I completely adore goes mainstream and the mainstream pretty much shrugs its shoulders and wanders off to watch Dancing With The Stars or whatever, and, man. That’s so, so much worse. Maybe we’ve just become spoiled by this whole “geek takeover of pop culture” thing, but it’s not enough for something like The Walking Dead to be made into a television series anymore; now, it has to be made and be accepted, and I’m not entirely sure why. At some point, being a fan of things like this has changed from “They’re making it into a movie/TV show? AWESOME!” through “They’re making it into a movie/TV show? Please don’t suck please don’t suck” before landing on “They’re making it into a movie/TV show? Please let it have a great opening weekend,” and I’m not entirely sure why.


  • LiamG

    I can understand all of the above feelings as I’m also experiencing them.

    It’s really starting to get on my nerves that I can’t find a lot of people to share my hobbies with lately. I was hoping that I could share Scott Pilgrim vs the World because when i walked out of the theatre I thought to himself “I can totally market this to them” but, when I seemed on the verge of convincing them, I check the screening schedule and it was GONE… after just a week in my country! That’s how badly the things I like tend to tank here lol

    I also shared your “please don’t suck” feeling when Iron Man was about to hit theatres. Until then IM was considered to be a 2nd tier superhero behind more famous characters like Spider-man, the X-Men, the Fantastic 4, Captain America, Thor etc but he was my favourite of the lot because I used to watch IM’s animated series when I was a kid and fell in love with the character. I guess I got lucky there (thanks Mr. Favreau!).

  • Jonah Weiland

    Purely an anecdotal event, but last night at a Halloween party filled with people who weren’t comic fans, who weren’t really pop culture consumers, I found many talking about THE WALKING DEAD enthusiastically, and that certainly made me happy. Again, purely anecdotal, but at least with this crowd it somehow found its way in to their consciousness.

  • tom

    If it doesn’t do well, big deal. I like shorter series anyway, they’re easier to get into and they tend to ‘keep’ better in the long-run than something that runs eleven years. So long as the ending isn’t disjointed anyway. This is why I rarely panic about a show struggling in the ratings (and wish others wouldn’t either, at least publicly; it is NEVER helpful to their cause)

    I rather suspect this series will do pretty well though…

  • Mwedmer

    I hear where you are coming from, but the problem usually stems from people getting far to posessive of something that they create their own expectations of how it should be handled.
    Star Wars anyone?
    the benefit that is in front of the Walking Dead is that its genre is not the first thing people think of when comics are mentioned. Also, anyone who likes horror likes Zombies. So as long as the show manages to bring its “A” game consistently then I think people will be drawn to the show no matter what their misgivings are.

  • lead sharp

    It is based on a comic not a ‘graphic novel’ because the last person who saw the ad’ for this (caught it at work on nights) actually said ‘Must mean it’s a really bloody book’.


    Sorry, sorry just getting really fed up with having fake shame poured on me by people who can’t be bothered rising above a stigma that they created in the first place. The layman has seen 2000 AD comics, they’ve seen eye opening things, show them a mature film and trust them to make the leap that it could come from a mature comic.

    We don’t call television ‘motion images’ or theatre ‘live action presentation’ so lets call a spade a spade and not an dirt transplanter?

  • lead sharp

    Sorry, got a bit carried away there my point about the piece was this…

    I know that feeling but from the point that if what is adapted is crap then people will assume it’s based on crap (ironically the opposite happened with the movie The Last Airbender) and thus comics will have lost a viable new audience.

    I actually see adaptations as adverts for the industry, that’s about the only reason I hope they don’t suck.

    I got into comics through the 89′ Batman movie, so I know this works.

  • Anonymous

    I honestly think that The Walking Dead has a LITTLE bit of a boost beyond most other comic adaptations; it has the comic fan market AND the horror fan market. So on top of all of the people that were waiting on baited breath for this to come out because it was based on a comic (whether they had actually read it or not) there was a boat load of people that saw the commercials and got really excited because hey, it’s zombies! And unlike Scott Pilgrim or any super hero movie or show there really isn’t any learning curve or much of a new mythos/ world for people to understand. It’s zombies and if you have seen any zombie movie before you already understand and know zombies.

    I might be wrong, but I hope that I’m not. If this does well it could be a HUGE step toward wider artistic and literary recognition of comics in North America.