The Walking Dead: Comic Books vs TV Show

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"Fight the Dead, Fear the Living" has become a familiar quote for all fans of the AMC show “The Walking Dead”. However, the graphic novel readers are familiar with other phrases such as "I should wrap my d*ck up in barbed wire and call it Lucille 2" and "Over here you undead f*ckwads!" Although this language is perhaps a little colourful for prime time TV, how accurate is the TV Series to the much loved comic series? We’re going to look at the parameters of character relationships and yes, character deaths. We’ll also look into whether the popular TellTale games tie in with the series.


The Walking Dead was first developed by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard in 2003. It wasn't picked up for a TV show until 2010 but the comic series and the show are still ongoing. Comic readers are currently anticipating the release of issue #160 and fans of the show are counting down the days until the season 7 premiere. The much loved series, although not for the faint of hearted has been called the "top rated series on all of TV" and "Taut, Terrifying and terrific", which in my book screams positivity. The success of both the comic and the TV show has led to an additional spin-off TV series 'Fear The Walking Dead' as well as numerous mobile and console games, which are available on most devices.


The series follows Rick Grimes, a man who wakes up in a hospital after the zombie outbreak (or the walker virus as the series calls it) and sets on a quest to find his family, keep them safe from the new world of uncertainty, mistrust and death. This obviously won’t be as easy or without loss. He finds himself in a leader position within a group of survivors, but many challenge that position. 


Despite obvious differences between the show and the comic books (Rick's hand anyone?), the show has given The Walking Dead family one of the series most beloved characters of all time Darryl Dixon and has perhaps made better writing decisions. Upon reflection, the creators have said they regret some of the decisions made early on in the series and have since chosen not to include these on the small screen. As a fan of both the comic series and the TV show there are things I dislike about the show but love about the comics and vice versa. For example, in the comics the character of Carol is younger, crazier and a little annoying, but in the show she kicks ass while making her own cookies. Where as in the show the character of Sasha has replaced Andreas’ position within the black and white panels. Changes are expected when anything goes from page to screen, but it's safe to say that the changes of The Walking Dead are good and not the type that the family of fans hate.


The beauty of a comic book however is that they can show a lot more than they tell in the hours spent over a drafting table. One of my favourite things about the comic book is the colouring of the panels. In a more symbolistic way the black white colouring of the comics show the grim reality of the situation the characters. Whereas the TV show relies on music, actor expressions and/or mise en scene. Greg Nicotero, one of the shows recurring directors, who has also worked on Kill Bill, Transformers and Inglorious Bastards in a variety roles, helps to create beautiful pieces of filmography, that recreates the bleakness of the comic books and give fans a shiver of excitement every time they hear a chord, a certain song or see a certain shot. 


I find it fascinating when comparing the shows actors to the artist’s original vision. In my personal opinion Michonne and Rick are perfect. When comparing shots of the show to panels in the comics, you can match issues to episode or panel to scene with precise accuracy. Although there are perks to reading ahead there are also drawbacks. One being that you know exactly what is going to happen and another being that you can be prepared for the death of a character. Sometimes the show writers change it and you feel like you've received the shock of your life. 


But in all honesty to compare The Walking Dead comics to The Walking Dead TV series is like comparing a crow to a rook - there is very little difference between the two. Making this adaptation from page to screen one of the very best in my humble opinion.


Season 7 of the Walking Dead premiers on the 24th of October at 9.00pm on FOX! It’s time to get the popcorn out ladies and gentleman.


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