Negotiating Community in the Interregnum: Zombies and Others in Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead

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Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics

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Robert Kirkman’s comic series, The Walking Dead, depicts the odyssey of Rick Grimes and his fellow survivors as they seek to flee the living dead and find fraternity. As others have noted, the fear of a contagious otherness− and the consequent dissolution of community − is a dominant discursive strain in the post-9/11 world. These anxieties have led to the creation of containment tropes, not the least of which is the recent discourse on strategies for preventing immigration (‘I will build a great, great wall’). Such narratives always assume an ‘us’ that needs protection from ‘them’ – whether those others are immigrants, terrorists, or Ebola victims (zombies may stand in for one or all). In The Walking Dead, however, there is no question about making such distinctions – we are told that the zombie virus lies dormant within us all, waiting for our demise to burst forth. Zombiehood is now an irrefutable part of our existence. The series may be read, then, as a disquisition on the futility of constructing boundaries (socially, bodily, or otherwise). By challenging these constructions (literal and metaphorical), the text asks us to rethink the manner in which others, including the infected, are excluded – and on what grounds.


Boundaries; Community; Otherness; Walking dead; Zombies


Graphic Communications | Interdisciplinary Arts and Media



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