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Cowboys and zombies: destabilizing patriarchal discourse in The Walking Dead

By D. Hassler-Forest

Abstract

The serialized comic book The Walking Dead, written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Charlie Adlard, has been published by Image Comics from October 2003, and is still being released in monthly instalments as of this writing. It has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series in 2010, and has recently been adapted as a successful TV series by AMC. A videogame is forthcoming in late 2011, the television series has been extended for a second, longer season, and there is even an official Walking Dead board game in the works. While indicative of the more general popularity of zombie fiction in contemporary mainstream culture, the Walking Dead phenomenon points towards interesting questions that are raised by its intersection of genres, as well as by its unique combination of an apocalyptic narrative and seemingly endlessly ongoing serialization. In this article, the intersection of seemingly incompatible genres will be my main focus, using Lacanian theory to engage with the ways in which The Walking Dead conflates the western with the zombie genre. This combination of genres is all the more thought-provoking as the western genre traditionally stages the Grand Narrative of patriarchal power from within the historical context of colonialist imperialism, whereas the zombie genre is associated with the destabilization of such forms of power. I will also engage with the serialized form in which this narrative is presented, arguing that the series' systematic lack of formal closure is fundamental to its larger decentering effect

Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.1386/stic.2.2.339_1
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Provided by: NARCIS
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