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Young Star

Zombies by Charlie

IT’S A TRAP - Jonty Cruz - The Philippine Star

All the gore doesn’t seem to bother Charlie Adlard — in fact, he’s kind of gotten used to it. The artist of the hugely popular series, The Walking Dead (that comic that became that TV show you love), admits drawing all those horrific scenes isn’t all that scary to him. The British artist says that what’s terrifying are the things that remain in our thoughts, the things we can’t see. “I don’t think gore has ever excited me. I like my horror off-screen actually, and for some reason, I end up working on a zombie book which in its very nature has to be gory,” he says, amused by the irony that brought him so much success. “I feel the human brain conjures up images far worse than anything you can ever show. Whenever you see a monster on cinema or in television, it’s always slightly disappointing because you’d always be imagining something far worse.”

Be that as it may, The Walking Dead, and Adlard by extension, has become infamous for most of comics’ controversial deaths and violence in the last decade. But Adlard makes it clear the death and violence don’t serve as stunts to generate sales. He tells us he and creator Robert Kirkman are storytellers first and foremost. “We’ve always dealt with those deaths by making sure they served the story and the characters more than anything else.” What makes his comic entertaining, Adlard says, are the human interactions between the characters and less about the zombies themselves.

It’s a bit surreal talking about death, gore, and zombies with a man who’s as pleasant as they come. The superstar artist comes off more as a charming surfer, with his plaid polo, cargo shorts, a beaded necklace he could’ve gotten on a beach like Siargao, and shades naturally resting on the top of his head. Perhaps the most surprising thing about him is that he wasn’t much of a zombie-fanatic before starting on his decade-long gig. “I do ask myself how this all happened because I wasn’t really into zombies before. And now, here I am,” Adlard kids. “I wasn’t a big fan of the genre before I started drawing The Walking Dead. I know that’s weird but the reason I said yes to doing this with Robert was because of the characters and the strength of the characters and the stories we could tell with these characters. For me, it wasn’t about all the zombies, gore and mayhem.

“When I started working on this comic, I didn’t think, yeah, I’m going to stay with this for a long time… Suddenly, it was going great and I found myself working a couple of years on this book, then five years, 10 years!”

An artist known for several mini-series and short runs on titles, Adlard admits he didn’t plan for this to be his longest comic run, but the stories of creator Robert Kirkman kept him on it. “It helps, and it’s also the main reason I stay on. I still get inspired by Robert’s scripts. I mean, that’s about it. No amount of money will be worth this if you’re not enjoying what you do,” Adlard says. “It’s not worth carrying on. We didn’t go into this thinking this’ll be our biggest run ever or this will be the comic that defines us. I guess these things just happen.”

I asked him if there were any particular scenes he was apprehensive about drawing. He reveals that the controversial torture scene of Michonne and the Governor was the one he had to call Kirkman about. “I did initially have issues with it. I did think at first it was a bit over the top and it was the first time I called Robert Kirkman and told him, ‘You’ve got to convince me to draw this and you have to do it right now.’  I can’t remember his exact words, but he explained why it needed to happen and it wasn’t just like, ‘Oh, because it’s going to be so cool,’ or that kind of nonsense.”

It shows what kind of storyteller he wants to be, someone who dedicates himself to a standard of creating something with substance. When a lot of comics these days just go for shock and stunts, Adlard has and will always focus on what matters most, gore and all.

 

ADLARD

BUT ADLARD

CHARACTERS

CHARLIE ADLARD

COMIC

MICHONNE AND THE GOVERNOR

ROBERT KIRKMAN

SIARGAO

WALKING DEAD

WHEN I

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