Walking Dead is a series of Image Comics created by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore in early 2003. After the first story arc (issues 1-7) Charlie Adlard replaced Tony Moore as lead artist; however, Moore produced the covers till issue number twenty-four. Walking Dead has received numerous accolades and industrial nods including an Eisner in 2010 for ‘Best Continuing Series.’ The success of the series continues well into the new decade and has been adapted for television by AMC.
Recently the show broke for its midseason break that left viewers in shock at its stellar conclusion. With the television series hitting mainstream success many Walking Dead viewers are becoming Walking Dead readers, so how do the two stack up against one another?
First off I would like to mention that I love both the Walking Dead graphic novels and television show. Walking Dead is truly one of the best comic book runs and television programs that both industries have to offer. Basically there are not too many downsides to either the comic book or the show.
The comic series has been in production for eight years and is constantly evolving and becoming something better than it’s predecessor. There are numerous pros for the comic book series: First off Robert Kirkman is a great horror storyteller. He knows how to grab you and keep you hooked even when he is depicting the darker side of humanity—especially when he is depicting the darker side of humanity. His ideas seem to be bountiful, and the direction and surprises are always ever changing. Also, I would highly recommend reading the introduction to the first volume of Walking Dead. It has some great insight into the creation of the series; Kirkman writes, “The Walking Dead will be the zombie movie that never ends.” And, to propel this everlasting zombie tale a strong lead is in order and at that premise a wonderful character, by the name of Rick Grimes, was born. He truly is the lightning rod in the series; he keeps the plot and other characters grounded. He is a relatable character who stays sane by adhering to a strict code of ethics. He has very black and white view of right and wrong, and this code is makes him a very capable leader as well as an interesting character to read about. Truthfully, there is not much to complain about the series. Personally I prefer Tony Moore’s art, in the first volume, rather than Charlie Adlard’s style. Moore’s art is more detailed and clean cut and the grey tones are phenomenally rendered. Adlard’s art tends to be a bit rough around the edges and less detailed (fewer grey tones). However, I can see the change in artists being justified because as Walking Dead progresses and the survivors of the zombie apocalypse become more and more haggard and removed from humanity the gritty artwork can be looked as a means to accentuate the plot. The trade paperbacks also seem to cut off in odd places at times. This is done in an effort to make all the graphic novels meet the same page count while maintaining a single price point. Image Comics could have easily used a varied pricing system and page count for the trade paperbacks akin to Vertigo’s Fables series.
The television show blends a lot of the comic series, while still maintaining its own uniqueness by fleshing out alternate plots and adding/changing the characters found within the comics. This is a great idea because by keeping the atmosphere of the Walking Dead comics, but by having Kirkman expand on new ideas, fans of the comic series will be attracted to the show but stay because of the new storylines. The new characters added for the show are a great addition to an already stellar cast. Daryl Dixon who is not featured in the comics, but was added for the television series has quickly become a fan favorite and garnished just as much attention as the lead, Rick Grimes. The additions to the cast create an interesting and different dynamic that flourishes wonderfully on film. The cast selection for the show is fantastic, and almost every actor brings a great presence to the screen while conveying an aura of believability in such a post-apocalyptic urban landscape. Also, the availability of the first season on Netflix is a huge plus, so if anyone has not had the chance of catching the first season and has Netflix—check it out! The only real drawbacks to AMC’s Walking Dead is that the first season is far too short—a scant six episodes, and the second season had a great intro, a slow build-up, but an excellent midseason finale.
One of the more dichotomous aspects of both the comic book and the television show pertains to the series character Shane Walsh. I include this as both a negative and a positive. I thought that his fate in the comic series was incredibly poignant and served as an excellent foray into the genre. However, within the television series he is the character everyone loves to hate and he serves as Rick’s voice of discontent. Both serve their purpose and it is hard to label one or the other as merely a pro or a con—it is somewhere in between.
Honestly, I am not sure if I could rank one above the other. I have been desperately trying to holistically grade them in an effort to recommend one above the other, but I get just as excited picking up the newest Walking Dead graphic novel as I did watching the latest episode. Both iterations have their pros (more so than their cons) and with Kirkman’s hand in each I think that they will both be highly successful. I give them both high marks.
Pick up any and all Walking Dead comics and graphic novels at Merlyn’s Sci-fi and Fantasy Shop in downtown Spokane on 19 W. Main Street, and pick up the first season, available on DVD, at your local Spokane Hastings for only $15.99.