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Graphic Novel Review: Shaun of the Dead by Chris Ryall and Zach Howard

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The first question that arises with a comic book adaptation of Shaun of the Dead (Titan Books) is how does the graphic novel handle the flick’s great early moments: the bits where our hero obliviously makes his way around the neighborhood without once noticing that that his neighbors have become the living dead. Bottom line: while giving us plot details, the Chris Ryall/Zack Howard comic can’t replicate the deadpan humor of the movie — perhaps because it’s too dependent on filmic elements (acting, pacing, camera placement) to work.

Where the British comic book succeeds (none too surprisingly, perhaps) are in the broadly comic bromance between Shaun and his doltish friend Ed — and in the straight-faced zombie attacks. Artist Zach Howard (with an ink assist by Sean Murphy) does a bang-up job with the walking dead, at times reminding us of Jack Davis’ work for the early EC comics only with more blood strewn all over the bodies, of course. It’s weak on the so-called romance between our hero and his disgruntled girlfriend Liz, but then so was the movie, so in this respect at least the comic gets it right.

Back in the fifties, when comics companies produced comic book versions of then-current movies, they worked as both promos for upcoming features and souvenirs of the moviegoing experience. Today, with the chance to re-watch the original readily available, I can’t help wondering just how big the market is for a slickly produced, redundant package like this.

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About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.