"The Walking Dead" #1 from 2003.Link
"The Walking Dead" #9 from 2004.Link
"The Walking Dead" #19 from 2005.Link
"The Walking Dead" #30 from 2006.Link
"The Walking Dead" #37 from 2007.Link
"The Walking Dead" #49 from 2008.Link
"The Walking Dead" #63 from 2009.Link
"The Walking Dead" #69 from 2010.Link
"The Walking Dead" #85 from 2011.Link
"The Walking Dead" #100 from 2012.Link
"The Walking Dead" #111 from 2013.Link
On TV, “The Walking Dead” is just ramping up, with the show’s fourth season set to debut this fall. But for fans of the comics, it’s been a long, tense decade. That’s right, “The Walking Dead” comic book turns 10 years old this October.
To commemorate the date, “Walking Dead” mastermind Robert Kirkman hosted a Comic-Con panel Thursday to answer fan questions. And when fans weren’t flooding to the mics, they were teased and gently browbeaten by the man they were there to see.
“Let’s just end this thing early,” he said more than once as fans rushed to the microphone to keep him talking.
Plans for the upcoming anniversary include a special full-color reprinting of the first issue (which was originally printed in black and white) as well as the launch of a yearlong story arc called “All Out War,” which will be published over the course of seven months, meaning more than one issue a month.
“It’s going to be a huge story line,” Kirkman said. “It’s a culmination of everything that’s happened in the book so far. As you know, Rick died in the last issue.” To audible gasps, Kirkman deadpanned, “What, is that issue not out yet?”
For those not caught up on the comics, Rick Grimes, the hero of the story since Issue 1 is still very much alive more than 100 issues later, though that’s not to say Kirkman doesn’t see the possibility of his doom one day.
Asked point-blank whether he could see the book continuing without Rick, Kirkman shrugged. “Sure. Maybe. We’ll see.”
He continued, “There are many strong characters. We could follow any one of them as a focus. It would change the book drastically, but we’ll see.”
Kirkman did reveal that he was “90% certain” there would be new webisodes produced to introduce the fourth season of the TV show.
Changes between the comic book and the AMC television series were a constant point of interest for the fans, including the death of a beloved character in the comics who is still around for the TV show. (Spoilers ahead for those not caught up on the comics.)
Glenn, played by actor Steven Yeun in the TV series, meets a grisly fate in Issue 100 of the comic book.
Kirkman explained, “I try not to base characters off people I know. Because I don’t want anyone to feel hurt when I kill the character. The first time I saw Steven Yeun after Issue 100 came out, I had to be like, ‘It’s not personal! I’m just telling a story.'”
Fans of Yeun shouldn’t give up all hope, however. As Kirkman pointed out, the TV series doesn’t just take the comic and put it onscreen. “If it was just the comic book over again, I’d be bored,” he said.
Fans of Norman Reedus’ Daryl character from the TV show shouldn’t go looking for the character to pop up in the comics anytime soon, either.
“I have thought about it,” Kirkman said. “But in the end, I like the fact there are certain characters you can only do in different mediums.”
Kirkman did say that he’s in the “Walking Dead” writers room full-time, which led one fan to bring up the awkward fact that the show, which was the highest-rated scripted series on TV last season, has had three different showrunners over the course of four seasons. Writer Scott Gimple stepped up to run the show after Glen Mazzara departed at the end of Season 3. Frank Darabont, who initially adapted the series for TV, left after Season 1.
“Is AMC trying to sabotage your show by firing the executive producers every season?” the fan asked.
“Yes, it’s in their vested interest,” Kirkman replied with a straight face.
“Will Scott Gimple stick around?” the fan asked.
“I’m sure Scott will do just fine,” Kirkman said. “But if he doesn’t, eh, they’ll get rid of him.” (Yes, Kirkman was obviously kidding about this point.)
— Patrick Kevin Day
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