Comic v. Adaptation – iZombie: Where creativity and derivativeness collide.Posted: 05/10/2015
I picked up the first issue of iZombie a while ago, back when I was first getting into digital comics. I had just purchased an iPad and was scouring Comixology for some new stuff to read. Seeing the first issue was going for $1, I quickly snapped it up…and didn’t love it. I’m not going to lie. More recently, upon hearing the TV series was coming, I decided to revisit the series (Well, the TV premiere tie in sale at Comixology helped encourage me too) and see if a second try would work out better. It sure did.
Written by Chris Roberson
Art by Michael Allred
Release Date: May 5, 2010
iZombie begins with the story of Gwen Dylan, a gravedigger by day. The first issue plays as your typical (I guess?) 20 something hipster-type working a crappy job scenario, that is until the last couple pages throw at you that she sneaks out once a month, cracks open the skulls of the recently buried and eats their brains. While never really shown in the series, it’s addressed a few times that should Gwen go too long without eating a brain, she goes full stereotype and gets all bitey and shamblely.
Shortly after eating her first brain (in the series, not in total) we find that she begins to hear the voices and see the memories of the person the brain belonged too. They yell at her unless she works to solve their murder or whatever unfinished business they want her to take care of.
To aid her in this task, Gwen enlists the help of her only two friends in the world, Scott (a were-terrier) and Ellie (a ghost). Along the way all kinds of craziness gets brought into the story, from Vampires, Mummies and Frankenstein’s monster-type creatures, to a Zombie-Abraham Lincoln led government monster force and an ancient society of monster slayers. Hell, there’s even a Cthulhu-esque ancient one who resides between dimensions thrown in for good measure. Somehow, the book ties the mythologies of pretty much all of this together in a way that is not only fascinating, but works.
This is where the TV series comes in.
iZombie – Pilot
Written by Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero-Wright
Directed by Rob Thomas
Air Date: March 17, 2015
iZombie is a Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) produced series. It centers around Liv (Rose McIver), a med student who is scratched by a zombie one day at the beach during a minor zombie outbreak. 5 months after the incident, Liv is now working as a coroner’s assistant at a morgue and eats the brains of the recently deceased who roll through her doors. Like in the comics, she does gain the memories of the dead, however, here she teams up with a police detective to solve these crimes and just claims she’s a psychic.
Liv does not have a scooby gang of friendly monsters to help her out for two major reasons:
- In the TV series, there are no other monsters. Zombies are the only ones who exist in this universe.
- Unlike Gwen from the comics, Liv still carries out her normal life. Yes, instead of hiding away in a crypt, she just keeps hanging out with her family, acting like nothing has changed
While the comic does introduce a bunch of quirky and interesting concepts, the show, for the most part, discards those wholesale. The series takes the most basic elements of the comic’s premise and waters it down into what is basically a standard detective show, if the main character was a zombie.
Everything about the show, the dialog, pacing, structure, character traits all feel extremely familiar and as if they were all lifted from a previous Thomas produced show. Thus, the series has been nicknamed by me “Undead Veronica Mars”.
The comic is a very weird but very interesting and original take on the old, cliched monster stories. I found it (while sometimes slightly convoluted) very enjoyable. That’s why it saddens me that much of that has been stripped away and turned into pretty much a detective procedural that we have all seen before.
Full disclosure: Upon writing this post, I have only seen the pilot of the series. I feel I can glean enough from that episode to determine the general tone and direction the series is taking. HOWEVER, I will follow up with viewing some more episodes and will amend this post should need be.