The Walking Dead is one of the most-watched shows in the world. It premiered on AMC in 2009 and is moving into its ninth season with no signs of slowing down. Based on the graphic novel series of the same name, The Walking Dead (TWD) has drawn readers and viewers of various backgrounds. Like other beloved series, the fans feel a personal connection to this series. This connection sometimes extends well beyond the realm of normalcy.

Additionally, fans are known to flock to comic book conventions, like ComicCon, to catch a glimpse of their favorite characters and can be overzealous. An overly excited fan has reportedly bitten one actor at a conference. Besides the comic book conventions, there is even a Walker-Stalker cruise that fans can book. Once aboard, they will be seabound with some of their most loved characters. For the right price, even the most fervent followers can satiate their need to connect beyond the screen.

The Walking Dead

CC BY-SA 3.0, by Angela George, via Wikimedia Commons

The Walking Dead Phenomenon

The Walking Dead phenomenon is threefold. Zombie lovers enjoy the series because of its unique take on the living dead. Other zombie movies portray zombies in an almost comical light. The mindless beasts have an insatiable urge for living humans’ brains. Known most commonly as walkers in the series, the zombies of this universe crave all living flesh. Humans do not have to be bitten to change; they only have to die. Anyone can become a walker: the undead virus has infected everyone. A bite just speeds up the inevitable.

Comic book fans enjoy the series for a different reason. The comic book series is well thought out schematically and portrays relatable characters. The main players are not superheroes. The story is that of Rick Grimes who is a sheriff’s deputy in a small Kentucky town. He quickly becomes the leader of a group of survivors after the zombie apocalypse. Rick has no training outside his sheriff’s role and relies on instinct and experience to survive. He also has the help of other flawed characters. Some of these characters are lawyers, veterinarians, and pizza delivery boys. Rick and the gang all work together to stay alive.

Unsurprisingly, the televised show appeals to a multitude of viewers. Horror and drama fans alike enjoy the show and its offshoot, Fear The Walking Dead. For horror fans, there are hungry zombies who stop at nothing and always tons of gore. The interpersonal relationships appeal to those who are in it for drama and emotions. The decaying societal norms paint relationships in a very different light. Every episode is another chance for a mother to lose a child or a man to lose his brother with one wrong move. No one is safe which places every single human on an equal playing field.

Comic Book Beginnings

The Walking Dead

CC BY 3.0, by Luigi Novi, via Wikimedia Commons

Robert Kirkman is the creator of the comic book series. He had been writing comics in his mind for years and had actually written other comics that were largely failures. He had had the idea of a post-apocalyptic setting for a book in mind for some time. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he stated,

I did a lot of research on World War II and the Holocaust, because that was the most modern equivalent of what it would be like to survive in an apocalyptic setting … I looked into that stuff to get a sense of what it’s like when people are pushed to their limits.

Having an idea and the ability to write are only two aspects of writing a graphic novel: the word “graphic” is in the title. Kirkman realized he was not much of an artist and needed help to make his idea come to life. This is where Tony Moore, his lifelong friend, comes into play.

Tony Moore has been a graphic artist since 1999 and has worked on comics like Masters of the Universe and The Exterminators. Kirkman immediately asked his friend to help him make his post-apocalyptic world a reality in print. Moore is responsible for creating a face for Rick Grimes and his group.

Unfortunately, after six issues, Kirkman and Moore split ways. Behind all the gossip is the fact that Moore wanted more than TWD and knew he would have no time for other projects. However, he assigned his interest over to Kirkman, who found Charlie Adlard. Arland had illustrated Judge Dredd comics, and the rest has been beautiful zombie history.

Ongoing comic book series

The Walking Dead comic book logo

Image: Public domain, by The Walking Dead, via Wikimedia

The Walking Dead world is not dead and is ongoing. Robert Kirkman is probably finishing up some dialogue in a fabulous office somewhere very pre-apocalyptic. Excitingly, a new issue is released every month, and fans continue reading about the struggles of creating a new society in a non-societal world.

However, even as new issues are being written, the televised series does not follow the comic to the letter. There are many discrepancies between the two versions. In many cases, the show will assign a comic book death to another character entirely. In other scenarios, a character long dead in the comics is alive and well in the televised series. Other times, characters are made up solely for the TV version if an actor is popular enough.

Furthermore, Fear The Walking Dead, the original’s offshoot has no literary basis. It was made solely for the entertainment of television fans. Its location begins on the West Coast, on the other side of the country than the original.

Dead Season

The dead season begins in October when The Walking Dead airs its new seasons. It typically runs new episodes every Sunday at 9:00 PM EST on AMC up until the middle of December. It takes a mid-season hiatus and returns in the same time slot in February and ends the middle of April. The average amount of episodes is 12 per season.

However, The dead season continues with the premiere of the new season of Fear the Walking Dead immediately after the TWD finale. It also takes a mid-break hiatus and ends in October for the premiere of the new TWD season to begin. The producers have figured out a way to keep their fans happy year-round.

Besides AMC, fans can also watch previous seasons on Netflix. Although, if that isn’t an option for viewers, both shows now have entire seasons on DVD. Episodes and full seasons can also be digitally purchased through Amazon’s streaming service.

Don’t Get Bit

The Walking Dead explores the challenges of life in a world that has been overrun by zombies. In a society-less world where every day is a struggle to survive, this takes a toll on the characters of this world. Sometimes, the interpersonal conflicts present a greater danger to their continuing survival than the walkers that roam the country. Over time, the characters are changed by constant exposure to death, and some grow willing to do anything to survive.

Rick Grimes is the anti-hero of series. Through his actions or inaction at times, his group of survivors struggles to keep themselves and the ones they have left to love alive. Basically, this is a story of a regular man doing all he can to keep his loved ones safe in a world where safety is very relative and mutable.

Finally, as the survivors often tell each other in lieu of “I love you:” Don’t get bit.


Featured Image: CC 0, by Ahmedreza89, via Pixabay