The Walking Dead franchise has become a popular culture juggernaut that shows no signs of slowing down. Yet, despite its soaring popularity, there has been a longstanding critique that the franchise, in both its comic book and television incarnations, advocates an explicitly patriarchal and predominantly white world order. Zombie narratives have shown themselves to be uniquely qualified to deconstruct the many illusions (and injustices) of our social order, so why have so many felt that The Walking Dead has only hardened the conventional boundaries of race, gender, and sexuality? Nonetheless, in all its forms, The Walking Dead is an evolving narrative—and many would argue that, specifically in its representations of what women and men of all races may become, the franchise is working toward more utopian possibilities.
All four of the collections of essays on The Walking Dead—James Lowder’s Triumph of the Walking Dead (2011), Wayne Yeun’s The Walking Dead and Philosophy (2012), Dawn Keetley’s “We’re All Infected”: Essays on AMC’s The Walking Dead and the Fate of the Human (2014), and Travis Langley’s The Walking Dead Psychology (2015)—cover a wide swathe of topics, and take up gender, sexuality, and race only fleetingly. We think it’s time for a collection addressed squarely at these issues, so crucial to the franchise’s vision of a post-apocalyptic world.