Bowie V. Ibarra
Alright, alright. I know it's a bold statement. 'The Walking Dead' did not necessarily rip off themes from Permuted Press titles.
Or did they?
Seriously, though, when you're dealing with the zombie apocalypse and describing the stories in your own peculiar way, there's going to be overlapping themes. A wiser writer than myself named Scott A. Johnson once said you can narrow storytelling down to two core concepts: A stranger comes to town, or a protagonist goes on a journey.
There's nothing new under the sun, and when it comes to storytelling, there's always going to be themes that overlap. Here are 5 concepts The Walking Dead
1. THE HANZO SWORD/KATANA IN THE ZPOC
Travis Adkins' 'Twilight of the Dead'
One of my first blog entries over two years ago now involved the idea that the katana is the best weapon to be used in the zombie apocalypse. Using the ultimate katana as seen in the Tarantino flicks, 'Kill Bill', I demonstrated waaaaaaaaay before 'The Walking Dead' hit TV screens that the 1st wave title 'Twilight of the Dead' (2008) by Permuted author Travis Adkins had set that precedent.
In 'Twilight of the Dead', a group of elite soldiers are recruited and trained to use the katana as a weapon against the undead. They are trained and become elite warriors with the katana.
In 'The Walking Dead' (2012), we get a chance to meet one of the comic book's mysterious heroes, Michonne. Michonne walks with the dead with a katana, clearly showing training with the weapon, dispensing foes with the quickness and elegance the weapon requires.
Pretty cool shared idea, isn't it?
2. THE FLU
Jackie Druga's 'The Flu'
Before I start with Jackie Druga's 'The Flu', I want to draw another example of how overlapping themes will always be prevalent in the storytelling of the zombie apocalypse. Like vampires or werewolves, the storyteller typically has to find a logical reason for why the events are occurring. An airborne sickness like the flu is a common theme.
The first book I seem to remember using common sickness as a sign of infection was the brilliant 'Flu' by WAYNE SIMMONS. The book is outstanding and a great example of the author's work as a storyteller.
That brings us to Jackie Druga's Permuted Press title, 'The Flu'. In it, a strain of the flu breaks out with deadly results. Here's the synopsis:
"Throughout history there have been several thousand different strains of influenza. Each year hundreds are active. Chances are, this year, you will catch one of those strains. You will cough, sneeze, and your body will ache. Without a second thought, you’ll take a double dose of green liquid, go to bed, and swear you’ll feel better in the morning.
Not this time.
In 1918 forty million people succumbed to a particular strain of swine flu. It appeared out of nowhere, and just as quickly as it surfaced, the Spanish Flu vanished. Gone for good. Or so we thought. Though mankind has anticipated its resurfacing for some time, mankind is ill prepared. Mutated and with a vengeance, the Spanish Flu returns.
In a world blackened with plague, a glimmer of light exists in the small town of Lodi, Ohio. They shine as a sanctuary because they are ‘flu-free.’ In the wake of the reality that they are spared, the spirit and strength of Lodi is tested. It becomes a fight against what is morally right or wrong in an increasingly difficult battle to stay healthy and alive until the flu has run its course."
That brings us to 'The Walking Dead' episode where the folks made it to the prison, but everyone got sick due to some flu-like illness in prison.
3. BEEVILLE, TEXAS/WOODBURY, GEORGIA
Bowie Ibarra's 'Down the Road: On the Last Day'
In the ZBFbooks.com Permuted Press title, 'Down the Road: On the Last Day', a mayor named Hickland has rallied his south Texas town together to exterminate the living dead within its city limits and barricaded the roads leading into town.
In 'The Walking Dead', a man named The Governor has rallied his town together to exterminate the living dead within its city limits and barricaded the roads leading into town.
Pretty cool coincidence, huh?
4. BURNED BODIES
Featured near the finish of the book (which you can purchase HERE), and without giving away any spoilers, a group of burned corpses attacks.
In one of the most recent 'The Walking Dead' episodes, a mysterious fire burning near a railroad track seems to have created a group of burning and still smoking walking corpses who stumble on to Daryl and his young friend near a railroad track near Terminus.
Burned corpses walking first seen in 'Down the Road: On the Last Day'.
5. SMEARING THE ROT FROM A CORPSE ONTO YOUR BODY AS CAMOFLAUGE AGAINST THE DEAD
Bowie Ibarra's 'Down the Road: The Fall of Austin
In the Permtued Press classic 'Down the Road: The Fall of Austin', a Native American character named Talltree breaks away from his cruel squad on the hunt for deserters, he neutralizes one of the living dead before cutting it open and rubbing its entrails all over him. Following the Native American tradition of 'Spirit Walkers', the tactic proves effective and the military man walks without threat among the dead, disguised by the scent.
In one of the earliest episodes of 'The Walking Dead', the characters believe they can disguise themselves with the scent of the dead. Neutralizing one of the living dead before cutting it open and rubbing its entrails all over themselves, the tactic proves effective and they walk without threat among the dead, disguised by the scent.
Unfortunately for them, a rainstorm hits, and the scent is quickly washed off of them, revealing their living selves to the walking dead.
That didn't happen to Talltree. Something immensely cooler happened to him. But you're going to have to pick up the book HERE to see how he makes his presence known at the finish.
6. RULE CHANGE
And one of the biggest themes of 'The Fall of Austin' and, ultimately, 'The Walking Dead', and every other work devoted to zombie horror, the 'Rule Change' is at the heart of the predicament of the end of the world. The desperation and lengths that people will go to survive is completely unpredictable. Hence all the great fun and social dynamics of the zpoc.
Ironically enough, 'The Fall of Austin' ends with the real solution not only to the Zpoc, but life on earth in general. What is that, you ask? Pick up the book HERE to find out.
Look, I understand that 'The Walking Dead' did not necessarily rip-off these themes from these Permuted Press books or others on the market. It's clear similar elements will always find their ways into not only zpoc stories, but every other story out there as well. It's just interesting to note that pieces that were released well before 'The Walking Dead' debuted were first playing with the themes we see today.
That's why if you're enjoying 'The Walking Dead', you need to not only pick up the aformentioned books, but visit Permuted Press and explore their zombie apocalypse library of books. The publishing house has grown by leaps and bounds, and some of the best new authors on the zombie horror scene will be found at the website. So go check it out today.
Have you read a Permuted Press book and found a common theme/similarity with an episode of 'The Walking Dead'? Leave a comment below and let us know.
BOWIE V. IBARRA is the author of the acclaimed 'Down the Road' zombie horror series from Permuted Press. He earned a BFA in Acting and a MA in Theatre History from Texas State University. His latest titles explore superhero themes, including 'Codename: La Lechusa', 'Room 26 and the Army of Xulhutdul', and 'Tejano Star and the Vengeance of Chaplain Skull'.
Network with Bowie at his official website, ZBFbooks.com, the leader in Tex-Mexploitation literature.