There is a growing trend, it seems, towards making comics “realistic.” The realism that they adhere to, though, is anything but. Comics where people die in depressing ways, where the hero doesn’t always win, where the villain is some kind of unspeakable rapist serial killer pedophile, that’s not realism. That’s pessimism.
Pessimism is an adolescent train of thought. There’s a time in your life where you grow disillusioned with the world and see everything as rotten, but that’s simply an illusion of the real world. When you’re a child, the world is wonderful, new, and awe-inspiring, but as a teenager you’re exposed to all these new facets of the world you previously had no interest in. Politics, heartbreak, genocide, these are suddenly new things in your life that before you were ignorant of. This exposure is scary, and you react in the only way you can, with pessimism. Surely, this world I previously thought to be so great and wonderful is actually a rotting carcass, you think. But like I said, it’s an illusion.
The Walking Dead is one of the most popular comic books being published right now, and with a hit TV series that continually shatters ratings, it’s certainly not going away any time soon. It’s appeal is certainly the “realistic” approach it takes towards the zombie genre, where every day is a struggle for survival, no one is safe, and the real enemies aren’t the zombies but the humans. But, this is confusing realism with pessimism. Reality isn’t a bleak, meaningless existence. Reality isn’t a world where humans revert to their base instincts of sex and violence when society collapses. That’s foolishness. The Walking Dead is a series where there’s no light at the end of a tunnel, no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, no hope amongst all the despair. Nowhere is safe, and no one is to be trusted. People who fall into those traps end up raped, tortured, or worse. The philosophy behind the series is “no one is safe”. That’s not real world, despite the best efforts to convince us otherwise. It’s fantasy, pure and simple.