Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Walking Dead Chronicles by Paul Ruditis

Let me start this review with a question: how do you feel about the special features on a DVD? Are they something you look forward to? Or do you ignore them? Or do you fall somewhere in between: you'll watch them if they're there but you won't be too bothered if they're missing? The question is pertinent, because how you feel about them will influence your decision on what you make of this book - The Walking Dead Chronicles by Paul Ruditis. Essentially, this book is the literary equivalent to the special features found on a DVD. In this case, the subject in question is series 1 of the TV series The Walking Dead.
I should point out my own opinion on the matter. I absolutely love special features. I like to know how a film/TV show is made. I like watching interviews with the cast and crew. I like listening to the commentary if one is provided. Given the choice between a single disc DVD with no extras or only minimal extras and a 2-disc DVD with a boatload of extras, I'll always opt for the 2-disc version. For me, the more special features on a DVD the better.
This book fills that need for me. Yes, I do have the DVD boxed set of series 1 of The Walking Dead and I loved all the extras provided, but this book goes into a lot more depth and covers a lot more ground.
It begins with a look at the inception of the comic series, upon which the TV series is based. This is followed by chapters on how the comic was developed for television, how the zombies look the way they do, the casting process, the visual style of the show, location reports and numerous articles on how certain scenes were made. In addition, each chapter includes an overview of one episode of the show. Bear in mind, series 1 only ran for six episodes.
A big selling point for this book is that it is lavishly illustrated throughout with photos from the series, behind the scenes shots and excerpts from the comics. Many of the photos have never been seen before. In short, it is a visual feast for the eyes. Most of the photos are in full colour, although any excerpts from the comic are, obviously, just in black and white.  I said "obviously" but if you haven't seen one of The Walking Dead comics you might not know that it is printed in black and white.
The prose by Paul Ruditis, is well written. The guy has form on this type of book, having written similar styled books for three of my favourite TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Bones. There is a foreword by director Frank Darabont and an introduction by Robert Kirkman, the creator of the comic series.
I was very impressed with this book, although I do have one criticism to make. The book is littered throughout with short chapters on a particular aspect of the show, be it a synopsis of the plot of an episode or how a particular special effect was achieved. These break up the main text at random but at the end of a page break there is no mention of where the main text continues. For example, this first happens on page 16. There is a three-page break and then the main text continues on page 20. A simple caption at the bottom of page 16 saying "continued on page 20" would have been nice.
This is no cheap rip-off trying to cash in on the success of the TV series but a very well written and well researched journal that is worth buying if you're a fan of the show. Whether you should buy it or not goes back to my question that I posed at the start of this review - how much do you like the special features of a DVD? If you like them as much as I do then this book is a must have. Otherwise, the decision to buy or not buy then depends upon how much of a fan of the TV series you are. It is a nicely produced and illustrated book but is it an essential purchase? That's up to you to decide. The book retails for £12.99 in the UK and $19.99 in America. If you were to shop on-line at somewhere like Amazon, as I did, you'll find it a lot cheaper.

15 comments:

  1. Some special features are better than others I suppose but the latest series has left me like a zombie....a little cold.

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  2. Apologies for missing some of the last posts and have now caught up...what an amazing gift!

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  3. Thanks, Fran. I'm still waiting to watch series 2 but I hear it's getting mixed reviews. Of course, I'll still watch it, irrespective of what any one else says.

    Nothing to apologise for, my friend. I knew that you were out of the loop over the Christmas holidays. Even so, it was an amazing gift!

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  4. It seems like this is another one to add to the "must have" book list; it seems I'm a sucker for your reviews !

    I agree with TAL though, the first half of series two of "the Walking Dead" keft me feeling a little "meh, so what ?", hopefully the second half will be better paced and have a little deeper plot to it.

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  5. For Special features are kind of I'll watch them if they are there. But I wouldn't go buy a dvd for just the special features if you know what i mean.

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  6. Another really good review Vampifan; very informative and well written - thanks for posting it!

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  7. @Joe. I seem to have a knack for making you spend money! LOL!

    @Simon. So I suspect this is not a book you'd go out and buy but if someone bought it for you as a present, you'd probably enjoy it. I suspect you're not alone in that view.

    @Colin. I'm glad you enjoyed my review.

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  8. Sounds like an interesting book, I for one like extras on DVD's, but it does depend on the film though, I'm loving series 2, although its about zombies, you just don't need them in every episode, just knowing they're out there does it for me!

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  9. Nice little review. I actually do not care so much for extras on DVDs anymore. I just find I do not have a ton of time for watching as many movies as I'd like, that I really don't have much time for watching 'Making Of' features, or audio commentary.

    Having said that, this still looks like a good book, that I may check it out regardless of my stance on extra features. Just not right away, as my reading queue is huge!

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  10. Nice review, thanks for posting. I love watching "The Walking Dead" so this book sounds pretty interesting.

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  11. @Ray. Well said! The Walking Dead is a series about the survivors of a zombie apocalypse. It is not a series about zombies. It is very much character driven and all the better for that. As you rightly said, you don't need the zombies in every episode, it's enough that they're out there, an ever constant threat.

    @Adam. It's different strokes for different folks and everyone's entitled to their opinion. If you do decide to buy this book I've no doubt you will enjoy it.

    @Joe. I'm such a big fan of the comic series and the TV series that buying this book was certainly a no-brainer.

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  12. I love DVD special features, but I am honestly not so much of a fan of behind the scenes books. I tend to never get around to reading the whole thing and rather just look at the pictures... :)

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  13. @Zombie Ad. Well, this book is very lavishly illustrated. It'd make for a fine coffee table book to just browse through.

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  14. Depending on what the special features are (I love outtakes/bloopers from almost anything) I'm a big fan of them. I usually don't care about most, but for movies I love or movies from directors I love I'll enjoy every single second of the special features.

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  15. Thanks, TAV. I must admit I love bloopers and out-takes as well.

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