Angel and Christa decided to undergo a little experiment when the CW premiered iZombie a few weeks ago. Christa had already read the majority of the comic series by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred before watching the show. Angel on the other hand watched the first two episodes of the show first and then read the first Volume of the comic. Let’s see how that affected their consumption of both versions.
Angel: It’s very Veronica Mars. which I guess I should have expected since Rob Thomas (creator of Veronica Mars) is one of the showrunners: snappy banter, quick cuts, hints at emotional trauma in the main character.
Christa: That makes sense…but is also kind of weird because I really don’t get a Veronica Mars vibe from the comic. I get more Scooby Doo meets Teen Wolf…but with zombies. Or one Zombie. And a were-terrier.
Angel: I think I actually like it more without the Veronica Mars vibe. Last night’s episode felt more formulaic than the first two, whereas in the comic, I couldn’t tell where things were gonna go.
Christa: This comic is kind of all over the place. I felt like things would start to head in one direction and then they would throw in a random twist (surprise! You know so and so from before you were dead). But the TV show seems to know where it’s going.
Angel: Yeah, I can kind of see them easing the mythology in slowly–if they include any of it at all–whereas the comic just throws you in there. I don’t have a whole lot of patience for crime shows personally. Veronica Mars pulled me in because she had a mystery arc to solve, and everything else was limited. I don’t get as much of that from iZombie, but it is still early.
Christa: I hope they bring in some of the mythology from the comic. I tend to like mystery based shows so I’m happy that’s the direction the shows going in, but I also really liked the variety of paranormal creatures in the comic. I need there to be a friendly ghost from the 1960s and a were-terrier! If it’s just zombies I’ll probably get bored.
One part I’m really disappointed they changed (so far anyway) was the romance. I kind of liked her romantic interest in the comic, and I liked that he was a monster hunter. I find I could care less about her puppy dog ex-fiancee.
Angel: Major is pretty humdrum, and I don’t really see the connection between them. Actually, have you noticed how many dudes Liv is surrounded with on the show compared to the comic?
Christa: Now that you mention it that is a little off putting–there’s Major, and her boss and the other zombie…she does have a female roommate but I feel like she’s just an accessory to Liv at this point. I loved her friendship with Ellie and I loved the waitress at the diner!
Angel: Her roommate is actually supposed to be her best friend, but again, not a whole lot of connection. After reading the comic, I’m disappointed because at least there, she’s always talking to Ellie, her ghost best friend..
Christa: Hopefully their relationship will grow as the show goes on. We need more strong female friendships on TV!
What did you think of the change from gravedigger to morgue assistant?
Angel: Here I go being a slightly negative Nancy: I’m not as pleased as I was after reading the comic. As a gravedigger, she seems to have more agency and she’s more comfortable in the job. As a morgue assistant, she does play second fiddle to her boss. I like their banter, but I’m not super interested in their relationship.
Christa: I 100% agree. I really like her boss as a character but miss the independence she had in the other job. However, I also like the Bones-vibe the show gets when she helps the cop solve crimes.
Angel: I thought the cases were pretty straightforward, and that’s why I want to know more about the zombies. The scenes where Liv wonders about her origin and the evil zombie dude interactions are the most interesting to me.
What do you think of evil zombie dude Blaine DeBeers by the way? I reacted to him like “HEY IT’S THAT DUDE FROM THE VAMPIRE DIARIES!”
Christa: AH! That’s where I knew him from. He seemed OK, I guess…there’s potential there, but again nothing really stands out in the first two episodes. I’m interested to see how their relationship develops and what he knows. He must know something – he was the one handing out the drugs after all.
Angel: He’s just infuriating enough to be a good villain, but I can’t help but be curious about his motives.
I gave him some more thought and I think he’s much more fleshed out and unpredictable than the “bad guys” in the comic. I’m interested in how he got to be the way he is, as opposed to how I’m more interested in the mythology that the comic “villain” is a part of than the dude himself.
Christa: Hehe, “fleshed out.” Good zombie pun.
Angel: The pun was unintentional, but I’ll take the point. XD
Christa: I see your point, though, about his being more interesting. In the first volume of the comic the villain (Amon) is rather boring. There are some decent twists with him later on but even then he’s not the most exciting part of the story.
Did you get to the part in the comic with the Dead Presidents?
Angel: Nope, I finished Volume 1 and have yet to read any more of the series. But I’m definitely in for the long haul.
(Wait, wait, was that the part where he walks her through history? Because I did read that part…)
Christa: No the Dead Presidents is a secret government society made up of different paranormal creatures with Presidential code names. I have no idea how they’ll work it into the show but I want them to so badly.
Angel: THAT SOUNDS SO COOL OMG.
Christa: Right? Keep your fingers crossed they’ll be able to tie it in with the cop somehow…
Angel: Yeah, right now, the cop is not very interesting to me. He’s obviously playing the straight man to Liv’s more unconventional methods, so maybe he doesn’t have a whole lot of room to develop yet. And that’s another point for the comic in my book, because it starts you off with the mythology right away, and you’re ready to see how people might turn out to be very different. The show doesn’t introduce viewers to a completely different world, with zombies and vampires and were-terriers and ghosts, so depending on how they play it, the shift to that stuff might throw viewers off.
Christa: I also find the cop rather boring and hope there’s a little more to him than meets the eye. I hope there’s a little more to everyone than meets the eye, because as you said in the comic everyone is a little different if you know their secrets. But if they do start adding in other creatures, I think they’ll need to do it slowly so as not to spook viewers who weren’t expecting that. They set themselves up for a difficult balancing act if they’re planning on drawing any more from the comics.
One thing we really haven’t talked about yet is the art versus the aesthetic of the show. For me, Mike Allred’s art really made the comic. It was so bright and quirky and had an old school Scooby Doo vibe to it. I think the show’s captured this a bit with her skin and her hair, but especially the episode where she was stealing everything. Reds were really red and there were some very vibrant (almost off putting) close-ups. It’s not quite the same but it does give the show a different feel than some other CW shows.
Angel: Agreed! The last comic I read before iZombie was Marbles by Ellen Forney, and while that was in black and white, the art style itself was personal and unique, with lots of bubble text to reinforce the fact that it was a memoir. Likewise, Allred’s art pairs so well with the fact that we’re being told this story by Gwen and we’re reading her thoughts, but it still has this creepy factor. As you said, the close-ups were almost off-putting, and it’s because it reinforces Liv’s inner struggle with who she is versus what she’s become.
Christa: Sidenote: I hate that they changed the name. Like really Liv Moore? That’s corny and not in a good way.
Angel: And now that you’ve pointed out the corniness of her name, I keep typing it as “Live.” I’m hoping that stuff gets phased out as the show goes on–the CW’s pretty heavy-handed when it comes to pushing those metaphors and parallels, but when it lets a show breathe? Amazing things happen. See: Jane the Virgin and The 100.
Christa: I still need to watch both of those. I’m such a failure of a TV lover.
Angel: To Netflix! Although I’m about two episodes behind on JTV and need to make some time to catch up.
Christa: So overall what do you think? Would you recommend iZombie to others (comic or show)? You mentioned that you’re in for the long haul with the comic, are you going to keep watching it as well?
Angel: I would definitely recommend the comic, even just on the basis of the first volume, and especially to people who might be a little intimidated by Marvel/DC/etc. to get into comics. I can see it appealing to paranormal YA readers as well.
As for the show, I might give it another two episodes (so really, the halfway mark) to see if it will pull me in for the rest of the season. It’s not as strong as I would have hoped, but I see no harm in giving it the benefit of the doubt and seeing where the story takes these characters. How about you?
Christa: I would also recommend the comic to new comic readers. It’s so accessible, funny and just the right size. Four volumes is enough to tell a full story and not feel dragged out.
The show I’m hopeful for. Like you, I’ll probably give it another few episodes to say for sure. There are definitely some elements I’d like to see strengthened (the female friendships, the mythology) but there’s some potential. It’s different from the comic but that may not be a bad thing when all is said and done.
Angel: I’d also love to see the show be a little more funny, and maybe as Liv gets more comfortable in her identity, we’ll get that.
Christa: Agreed. There’s some solid sarcasm but they can do more. We’ve all seen Veronica Mars, Thomas, we know you have it in you.